Court Orders Forfeiture of Emefiele’s $1.4m Bribery Proceeds

The Federal High Court in Lagos, on Wednesday, ordered the interim forfeiture of $1,426,175.14 linked to former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.

Justice Ayokunle Faji directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to publish the interim forfeiture order in a national newspaper.

The judge said anyone interested in the funds must appear before him within 14 days to show cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The court order followed an ex parte application marked FHC/L/CS/232/2024, moved by EFCC counsel, Bilikisu Buhari-Bala.

Buhari-Bala told Justice Faji that the funds were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities of Emefiele, who is currently facing three criminal trials.

She said the court was empowered by Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 to order the forfeiture of the funds.

The EFCC investigator, David Jayeoba, who deposed to an affidavit in support of the ex parte application, stated that credible intelligence led to the discovery of the funds in a bank account.

The investigator alleged that between 2021 and 2022, during a period of forex scarcity, one Uzeobo Anthony and Adebanjo Olurotimi, directors of Donatone Limited, collected bribes on behalf of Emefiele to facilitate forex approvals.

According to the investigator, payments, totaling $26,552,000, were made to Donatone’s accounts, with significant transactions on specific dates in 2021 and 2022.

“That Uzeobo Anthony and Adebanjo Olurotimi used the firm to collect bribes and gratification on behalf of Godwin Emefiele, to get approval for accessing forex. And that one of the entities (NP) paid a total sum of $26,552 million USD, into the account of firm domiciled in Titan Trust account number 2000000500.

“That the said credits came into the account of the firm on November 9, 2021: $6,450,000, November 5, 2021: $6,050,000, December 16, 2021: $5,400,000, December 23, 2021: $652,000; January 31 2022; $3,000,000 and September 21, 2022: $5,000,000.

“Investigations revealed that the funds were laundered through a foreign account in Mauritius before being returned to Nigeria.

‘As of now, the balance in the account is $1,426,175.14, which the EFCC seeks to forfeit to the Federal Government as proceeds of unlawful activities.

“Investigation further revealed that the international entities sourcing for forex were pressured into parting with huge funds to access forex during the period.

“That the signatories to the account warehousing the sum of $1, 426, 175.14 million USD, sought to be forfeited are at large and are making frantic efforts to dissipate the funds electronically.

“Based on our investigation findings, the funds sought to be forfeited are proceeds of unlawful activities of and his cronies.

“It is in the interest of justice to grant this application.”

Justice Faji after granting the interim forfeiture order adjourned till June 25 for the hearing on the final forfeiture.

The Wednesday forfeiture comes days after Justice Yelim Bogoro of the same Federal High Court on May 23, 2024, ordered the interim forfeiture of $4.7 million, N830 million, and properties linked to Emefiele.

Emefiele is currently facing charges bordering on procurement fraud, authorised redesign of the naira notes and forgery of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari’s signature to allegedly move funds out of the CBN.