17/03/2011 12:47


Landed property and business concerns worth over N2 trillion  have been seized from 46 politicians and influential Nigerians in the last seven years by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission following corruption charges preferred against them, SUNDAY PUNCH investigations have revealed.
The forfeited properties totaling 203 and scattered across the country and overseas were recovered on the orders of the courts.

This revelation is coming as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said it would in the next few weeks seal and seizes more properties. The planned seizure is a result of court judgments yet to be implemented.

EFCC Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Babafemi, confirmed this to correspondent on Friday, saying” there is another 16 on our list that we will be reclaiming in another two weeks.”

He added,” The EFCC has the mandate to identify, verify and manage all forfeited assets. In the course of the identification and verification exercise, we discovered quite a lot of official orders that were not enforced during the tenure of the former chairman.”

The Commission was formerly under the superintendence of Malam Nuhu Ribadu, who is now a presidential aspirant of the Action Congress of Nigeria.
Correspondent gathered that an asset forfeiture unit was set up in 2008 to trace all the houses that the courts had ordered to be claimed by the government in different parts of the country.
Babafemi said,” That unit became imperative when we realised that their former owners were not ready to let go of the properties willingly. In all, we have 203 houses worth over N2 trillion from 46 court orders.”

Already, tenants in the 203 houses have received letters from the EFCC that the buildings now belong to the Federal Government.

The letter, SUNDAY PUNCH gathered directed them to pay their rents to the Federal Government Recovery account that is being managed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Also, property managers have been hired to manage the estates.
Babafemi said,” The managers will administer the assets to generate revenue for the government. These properties no longer belong to the individuals that owned them. They now belong to the government and will be treated as such.”
Former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, two weeks ago, joined the list of the 46 persons who had their properties confiscated after the commission seized two of his buildings in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Babafemi said the commission had earlier confiscated the buildings and had court papers which gave it the leave to seize the properties.

Fayose, the EFCC spokesman said, had broken the commission‘s seal on the buildings and regained entry into the buildings, an action that prompted the anti-graft agency‘s reaction.

Babafemi added,” The order was not obtained today. It is an existing order. There was a subsisting court order for the temporary forfeiture of those buildings. The properties were seized since 2006 but they broke our seal and got into the building. We just got information on that which prompted our agents to move in.”

Apart from Fayose, the former Managing Director of Oceanic Bank International Plc, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, also forfeited N191bn assets comprising 49 properties in Nigeria, United States and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to the FG, after a federal high court sentenced her to 18 months imprisonment last month.

In 2009, the EFCC also seized Cosmo FM radio station, Rainbownet Nigeria Ltd and other companies believed to be owned by former Enugu State governor, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani.
The properties were seized by the commission vide a Lagos Federal High Court order in May 2007 following the indictment of Nnamani over alleged corruption and embezzlement of state funds to the tune of N5.3billion.

Suspected to be on the list also are properties of former Plateau State governor, Joshua Dariye; controversial businessmen, Fred Ajudua and Emmanuel Nwude; former Bayelsa governor, D.S.P Alamieyeseigha, and the former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun.



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