Court orders final forfeiture of N601m seized in govt official’s accounts

CourtA FEDERAL High Court in Abuja has ordered the permanent forfeiture of N601million found in two accounts maintained by a government official, Okunrinboye Tomsin Titus.

Following Justice Giwa Ogunbanjo gave the order on Thursday while ruling on a motion for final forfeiture orders brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The money in two tranches of N550 million and N51 million are proceeds of fraud and identified as belonging to Okunrinboye Tomsin Titus, who is an accountant with the Federal Ministry of Special Duties.

EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren said: “The trio of Titus Okunrinboye, Vincent Odafen and Muara Muhammed Gambo are being prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly running and operating companies, which were alleged to have been used to siphon public funds under the façade of contracts or consultancy.

“It will be recalled that the EFCC on June 28, 2019, applied for interim forfeiture before Justice Giwa- Ogunbanjo, who granted the application and stipulated that the Commission should place the application in a national newspaper.

“On October 7, 2019, prosecution counsel, M.S. Abubakar, told the court that the Commission had complied with the judge’s stipulation by advertising the interim forfeiture application in The Nation.”

He quoted Abubakar as saying: “We have complied and we’re now back to apply for final forfeiture and the affidavit in support of the motion on notice, as the defendant has not filed any counter.”

Uwujaren said the judge asked the prosecution counsel to serve the defendant the notice on motion and to make sure that the account number filed by the prosecution for the forfeiture is thoroughly verified to be a Central Bank account number and must be supported with documents to ensure that where the funds would be transferred is a genuine federal government’s account before adjourning to October 10,  for ruling on the final forfeiture application.

At the resumed hearing on Thursday, the prosecution counsel urged the court to grant EFCC’s prayers since there was no counter affidavit against the application.

“The motion on notice filed by the EFCC for the final forfeiture reads: ‘A final order of this honourable court for forfeiture to the Federal Government of Nigeria of funds lying in bank account (Okunrinboye Tomsin Titus). A final order of this honourable court for final forfeiture to the Federal Government of Nigeria of the funds lying in the bank  (Okunrinboye Tomsin Titus). An order of this honourable court directing  the bank to forthwith transfer the forfeited funds to the Central bank of Nigeria.’

“Justice Giwa granted the prayers of the prosecution and placed an order, directing the bank to transfer the forfeited funds into the Cash Assets Final Forfeiture of the Central Bank of Nigeria,” Uwujaren said.

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