Court okays interim forfeiture of $376,120 traced to army general

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted the request by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for an interim forfeiture of the $376,120 (estimated at N136,155,440) allegedly seized from Maj.-Gen. Hakeem Oladapo Otiki.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu made the order for the interim forfeiture of the money on Wednesday.

She ruled on an ex parte motion filed by the EFCC and argued by its lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho.

The judge also ordered the EFCC to publish the interim forfeiture order in a national daily to enable “persons in whose possession the funds sought to be forfeited are found or anyone who is interested in the funds sought to be forfeited, to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture of the funds should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

Justice Ojukwu adjourned till February 24, 2020, on the matter.  The EFCC said Otiki, who is currently standing trial before the Army Court Marshall, allegedly detailed some soldiers, sometime last year, to provide VIP escort from Sokoto to Kaduna for Alhaji Ado Aliyu, alongside N400 million, but fled and escaped with the money.

An investigator with the EFCC, Alvan Gurumnaan, stated, in a supporting affidavit, that upon receipt of intelligence, his team carried out several investigation activities.

These, he said, include: “making inquiries from the Office of the Chief of Army Staff, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), commercial banks, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Salaries and Wages Commission, interviewing witnesses and suspects with a view to unravel the fraud, tracing the movements of funds suspected to be proceeds of illegal activities, source of the funds, the beneficiaries, amongst others”.

Gurumnaan said investigation revealed: “That Major General Otiki was a serving military officer and the immediate-past General Officer Commanding (GOC) Division of the Nigerian Army, Sokoto. He was the chief accounting officer of the division.

“That Alhaji Ado, together with his son, Adamu Aliyu, is into the business of Bureau De Change (BDC). They are business associates of Major General Otiki as they assisted him (Otiki) in operating his BDC business, called Karama BDC.

“That Major General Otiki, whilst still in public service, acquired Karama BDC Nigeria Limited, in 2014. Out of the company’s 35,000,000 share capital, he had 22,000,000 shares.

“Similarly, Major General Otiki is also the highest shareholder in Danest Hotel and Suites Nigeria Limited and Daniest Nigeria Limited.

“The office addresses of the BDC and hotel are respectively in Lagos and Ibadan.”

He added that despite actively running and managing the businesses as well as being the sole signatory to the bank accounts of the companies, Otiki denied having any enterprise or shares in any company in Nigeria while completing his assets declaration form in 2016.

“That on March 9, 2019, being the day for the governorship election in Sokoto State, Major General Otiki invited Alhaji Ado to Sokoto and sold N100,000,000.00 in cash to Alhaji Ado in exchange for the equivalent sum of USD277,700 (at the agreed exchange rate). The said USD277,700 was paid in cash to Major General Otiki.

“To facilitate the above unofficial transaction, Major General Otiki provided detailed military security escort for Alhaji Ado from Kaduna to Sokoto and back to Kaduna.

“That the Nigerian Army headquarters specifically released special intervention funds to the 8 Division of the Nigerian Army headed by Major General Otiki for the purpose of improving on the infrastructure within the said 8 Division,” he said.

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