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Court orders final forfeiture of over N12.18bn properties linked to Emefiele

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In a significant legal development, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has issued a final forfeiture order for properties valued at over N12.18 billion linked to the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, and his alleged accomplices.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke delivered the ruling after considering an application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC had argued that the properties, totaling N11.14 billion and an additional N1.04 billion, were acquired with proceeds from fraudulent activities.

The court’s decision follows an earlier interim forfeiture order granted on June 5, 2024, based on allegations that Emefiele purchased these assets through proxies using ill-gotten gains.

The EFCC had named two current and one former CBN staff as Emefiele’s collaborators in the purported fraud scheme.

During proceedings, EFCC counsel Chineye Okezie presented a compelling case supported by a 41-paragraph affidavit, 19 exhibits, and a written address.

The court was persuaded by the evidence presented, which detailed how Emefiele and his associates allegedly misused their positions at the CBN to secure financial advantages for themselves and others.

“The properties listed in Schedule A and B have been traced and reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities,” Justice Aneke declared.

Schedule A includes shops and apartments in upscale areas of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, while Schedule B comprises lands and apartments valued at N1.04 billion.

The judge ordered the EFCC to publish the final forfeiture order in a national newspaper to notify any interested parties of the court’s decision.

He emphasized the gravity of the allegations and the need for stringent legal measures to combat financial crimes in Nigeria.

With this ruling, the EFCC has made significant strides in its efforts to recover assets allegedly obtained through fraudulent means, underscoring the importance of accountability and justice in the Nigerian financial sector.

The case highlights ongoing challenges in tackling corruption and financial malpractice within government institutions, including regulatory bodies like the CBN.

The court adjourned further proceedings to monitor compliance with its orders and ensure transparency in the administration of justice.

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