a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, has asked the Federal High Court in Kano to set aside the ex parte order of interim forfeiture on the $9,772,000 and £74,000 recovered from him.
Justice Zainab B. Abubakar of the Federal High Court sitting in Kano had on February 13 granted the interim forfeiture order for the money (which amounted to about N3bn) found in the secret safe belonging to Yakubu in Sabon Tasha, in Kaduna.
The order was sequel to an ex-parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission seeking an interim forfeiture of the recovered money to the Federal Government.
The ex-parte application was moved by Salihu Sani, counsel for the EFCC.
In her ruling, Justice Zainab held that the money now in the custody of the EFCC is in the interim forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria”
But in his application filed through his lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), the ex-NNPC boss seeks, “An order setting aside, discharging or vacating the ex-parte Order made by this Honourable Court on the 13th of February, 2017, which ordered the interim forfeiture to the Federal Government of Nigeria of the respective sums of $9,772,800 and £74,000,000 belonging to the respondent/applicant, same having been made without jurisdiction.”
The prayer by the applicant is anchored on two grounds.
One of the grounds is that the court lacked jurisdiction to make the order of forfeiture because the offence from which the money emanated as its proceeds were allegedly not committed within the Kano jurisdiction of the court.
The applicant also argued that the Federal Government lacked locus standi to apply for the interim forfeiture order.
Raji stated in the application, “…By Section 28 of the EFCC Act, only the commission, i.e. the EFCC has the vires to seek an order for the interim forfeiture of property under the Act.
The power of this honourable court to make interim forfeiture Order(s) pursuant to Sections 28 & 29 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004 (hereinafter “EFCC Act”) is applicable ONLY to alleged offences charged under the EFCC Act and not to offences cognizable under any other law.
“The ex-parte Order of this Honourable Court dated 13th February, 2017, was made in respect of alleged offences under the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission Act (hereinafter “ICPC Act”) and not the EFCC Act as prescribed by Section 28 & 29 thereof.
“The conditions precedent to the grant of an interim forfeiture Order under Sections 28 & 29 of the EFCC Act were not complied with by the applicant before the Order was made.
“The combined effect of Sections 28 & 29 of the EFCC Act is that a charge alleging infractions against the provisions of the EFCC Act ought to be brought against a suspect before the powers of this honourable court under Sections 28 & 29 of the EFFCC Act, to order interim forfeiture of property, can be actuated.”