The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), says it has secured the final forfeiture of N350,367,772 fraudulently acquired by some staff of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
In a Statement signed by ICPC Spokesperson, Mrs Azuka Ogogua, ICPC said the money was fraudulently kept in an interest yielding bank account by three respondents including the Chief Registrar and the Deputy Registrar of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.
According to ICPC, in the course of investigating a petition written against some officials of the court, the Commission’s special investigation team uncovered the money, “being the sum of confiscated, value and sold vessel hidden in a bank account.”
The statement reads in part: “To allow any interested persons show cause why the money should not be forfeited finally to the federal government, ICPC immediately filed an ex-parte motion for an Interim Order of Forfeiture in November 2020.
“While ruling on the Interim Order of Forfeiture, Justice Mohammed Sani of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt granted the Commission’s prayers for interim forfeiture of the sum pending the final hearing of the case.
“In his ruling on the Motion on Notice for the final forfeiture of the money, Justice Sani, held that he was satisfied that ICPC had placed sufficient evidence before the Court to justify a final forfeiture of the contentious money.
“He ,therefore ,ordered Union Bank, Station Road Branch, Port-Harcourt ,to immediately pay the money into the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account as the money in question rightly belonged to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the ICPC has also arraigned a former Executive Director of National Horticultural Research Institute, Ibadan, Dr. Ademola Adeseye Idowu and three others for conferring undue advantage upon themselves.”
The Executive Director, Mr. Isaiah Kayode Ajisafe, along with three others were alleged in an 8-count charge to have received the sum of N1,800,000 as benefit for appointing Sterling Designs & Associates Limited as Consultant to the Institute contrary to and punishable under Sections 9, 19 and 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
Mr. Ajisafe, who is a former head of accounts department of the Institute was also accused of allegedly receiving N1,200,000 to appoint Sterling Designs & Associates Limited as a Consultant to the Institute. The third defendant, Mr. David Ikyobo, a Director at Sterling Designs & Associated Ltd. was also accused of allegedly bribing the other defendants to the tune of N3million.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and the counsel to the first and second defendants, O. A. Owolabi, and Samuel Adeniji for the third defendant, prayed the court to grant them bail on liberal terms.
In his ruling, the presiding Judge, Justice Muktar Abimbola of the Oyo State High Court granted the accused persons bail in the sum of Ten Million Naira (N10 million) each and one surety in like sum sworn to an affidavit of means, and ensure that the bail conditions are fulfilled within 10 days. The case was adjourned to 22nd March 2021 for further hearing.