The Federal High Court in Lagos has issued an order for the final forfeiture of $1.4 million linked to former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to the Federal Government. Justice Ayokunle Faji granted the order after considering an application presented by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). This order follows another recent ruling by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the same court, which resulted in the forfeiture of over N12.18 billion in money and properties also linked to Emefiele.

During the proceedings on Tuesday, EFCC counsel Bilkisu Buhari-Bala urged Justice Faji to approve the final forfeiture of the funds, which were held in an account at Titan Trust Limited. The EFCC’s application was based on Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud-related Offences Act No. 14 of 2006 and Section 44(2)(B) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

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Buhari-Bala informed the court that the money in question was proven to be proceeds of unlawful activities. The EFCC’s application was supported by an affidavit from David Jayeoba, an Investigating Officer with the commission. According to Jayeoba, the EFCC had received credible intelligence that led to the tracing of funds, suspected to be illicit, in a Titan Trust Bank account held by Donatone Limited (DL).

The affidavit detailed that during the investigation of significant fraud involving the former CBN governor and his associates, the EFCC uncovered large sums of money concealed in DL’s account at Titan Trust Bank. The investigation identified Uzeobo Anthony and Adebanjo Olurotimi, directors of DL, as key figures in the fraudulent concealment of these funds.

Jayeoba’s affidavit further explained that the funds represented proceeds from Emefiele and his associates’ illegal activities. It noted that Anthony and Olurotimi were allegedly recruited by Emefiele to hide, retain, and disguise the illicit funds. Between 2021 and 2022, when accessing foreign exchange (Forex) in Nigeria was challenging, various international entities operating in Nigeria were compelled to seek alternative means to obtain Forex. During this period, Anthony and Olurotimi reportedly collected bribes and gratifications on Emefiele’s behalf to facilitate Forex access.

One entity was said to have deposited a total of $26,552,000 into DL’s Titan Trust Bank account. These deposits were made on several dates: $6,450,000 on November 9, 2021; $6,050,000 on November 15, 2021; $5,400,000 on December 16, 2021; $652,000 on December 23, 2021; $3,000,000 on January 31, 2022; and $5,000,000 on September 21, 2022. The affidavit included evidence of these transactions from the Titan Trust Bank account.

The investigation revealed that these funds were placed in interest-bearing accounts, laundered through a foreign account in Mauritius, and subsequently returned to Nigeria under the guise of legitimate funds. Of the $26,552,000 deposited, the remaining balance in the account was $1,426,175.14. The EFCC sought to have this remaining amount forfeited to the Nigerian government as proceeds of unlawful activities linked to Emefiele and his associates.

Further investigation indicated that international entities seeking Forex were coerced into paying substantial sums. The affidavit noted that the signatories to the account, which held the $1,426,175.14, were at large and attempting to electronically transfer the funds.

The EFCC had previously obtained an interim forfeiture order on May 29, 2024, to seize the $1,426,175.14 held in Titan Trust Bank. This interim order was publicized in the Punch Newspaper on June 6, 2024, as required by the court.

After reviewing the EFCC’s application and supporting documents, Justice Faji concluded that the evidence presented was sufficient to grant the final forfeiture order. Consequently, the court ruled in favor of the EFCC, thereby forfeiting the $1.4 million to the Federal Government of Nigeria.