Lagos court orders permanent forfeiture of abandoned N449.6m

By Olufunke Elushakin, Lagos

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture of about N449.6 million found in an abandoned Bureau de Change (BDC) shop at Victoria Island.

It its ruling on Friday, the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Aikawa ordered that the money, which was recovered by the Economic Financial and other Crimes Commission (EFCC) be forfeited to the Federal Government.

The forfeiture order followed a motion on notice taken before him by the anti-graft agency who claimed that no-one has come forward to claim ownership of the funds.

Aikawa had on April 19 ordered temporary forfeiture of the money and adjourned for one Mohammed Tauheed, who was joined as a respondent or any other interested party, to appear.

When the case was called on Friday, counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Idris Mohammed, told court that the interim order of April 19 was advertised in a newspaper on May 11, to bring the case to the notice of Tauheed and any interested party.

He said apart from the newspaper publication, Tauheed was also served with the motion on notice.

Mohammed urged the judge to order the final forfeiture of the money since neither Tauheed nor anyone else came forward to claim it.

Aikawa, in a short ruling, granted the application.

He said, “This court ordered, among others, that the respondent (Tauheed) and any other interested party should show cause, within 14 days, why the interim forfeiture of N449, 597,000 should not be made final.

“ As far as my record shows, neither the respondent nor any other interested party has filed any affidavit or any other process to show cause why the interim order should not be made final.

“The respondent has, additionally, not filed any process in response to the motion on notice. In the circumstances, I have no option but to grant the application as prayed.

“Accordingly, I hereby order that the sum of N449, 597,000 found in possession of the respondent, which sum is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful activity be finally forfeited to the federal government.”

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