A former General Officer Commanding, 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, Sokoto, Major General Hakeem Otiki, on Monday told the Federal High Court, Abuja that the $376,120 (N136,155,440) in respect of which an interim forfeiture order had been made by the court belonged to him, his firms and family.
The New Agency of Nigeria reports that Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu had on January 22 issued the interim forfeiture order upon an ex-parte application with suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/1380/20, made by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Justice Ojukwu, who granted the anti-graft agency’s prayers, directed that the order for forfeiture be published within 14 days for any person who was found in possession of the money or any person who had any interest to show cause within 14 days.
This is even as the final forfeiture order should not be made by the court.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, Counsel to the EFCC, Ekele Iheanacho, told the court that the matter was for report of compliance with the order of the court.
Iheanacho said: “We have duly complied with the court order by publishing the interim forfeiture order in Leadership Newspaper and we have filed affidavit of compliance to that effect.”
However. Counsel to Otiki, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), informed the court that his client filed a motion to be joined on February 5 as well as affidavit to show cause.
In an affidavit to show cause deposed to by one Otiki Kaltume Asabe, parties interested include: Karama Bureau De Change, Major H.O. Otiki, Otiki Kudirat, Otiki Kaltume Asabe, Otiki Zainab, Otiki Abdul and Danest Nigeria Limited as 1st to 7th interested parties respectively.
Asabe, in the affidavit, said she was a shareholder and a member of Board of Directors of Karama Bureau De Change Limited and Danest Nigeria Limited (1st and 7th interested parties).
She said she had the consent and authority of the other interested parties as well as the specific permission of the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th interested parties who were fellow shareholders and or directors of the 1st and 7th interested parties to depose to the affidavit.
Asabe said $376,120 seized by the EFCC from a Kaduna-based Bureau De Change operator and a business associate of the 1st interested party, Aliyu Ado, and his son, Aliyu, was partly the business capital of the 1st interested party.
She added that the 7th interested party as well as partly the personal funds of the 2nd interested party (Major General Otiki) given to the said Aliyu Ado for the purpose of carrying out the main business of the 1st interested party.
Asabe said contrary to the claim by the EFCC that the money was part of proceeds of fraud, the fund was joint property of the 1st, 2nd and 7th interested parties.
She said the money was pooled together from the legitimate incomes of the 2nd interested party and other shareholders and the business capital of 1st interested party.
Asabe insisted that the interim forfeited money was not a proceed of any illegal activity as alleged by the EFCC.
Also, Counsel to the Nigerian Army, Saleh Abdulaziz, told the court that the said money belonged to his client (NA).
In an affidavit to show cause deposed to by Ato Joseph, a Master Warrant Officer in the NA, he said the NA was recovering monies and properties of the 8 Division from all the parties involved in the theft and embezzling of funds of the division.
Joseph said Otiki was among the suspects.
He said Otiki assumed the duty as GOC of 8 Division on March 23, 2019 and he received all notices of cash payments or deposits from the NA Finance Corp, Army Headquarters and directed for their disbursements and movement within the division.
He said: “That I know that as a fact from my investigations that the sum of $376,120, which the EFCC seeks to be forfeited to the Federal Government, is part of the money released to the officer as the GOC of 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, which same was converted into dollars by Alhaji Ado Aliyu for the officer.
“That from our investigations and from the officer’s statement in paragraph No 7 and 14 of his statement (see Exhibit NA7 above), Alhaji Ado Aliyu only received a part of the money that was deposited in the officer’s house on July 11, 2019.
“That I know as a fact that the Nigerian Army is desirous of collecting all its money either siphoned or stolen or embezzled and or misappropriated from the officer.”
When Justice Ojukwu asked if EFCC had been served, Iheanacho acknowledged receipt of the applications.
The judge, who granted the applications, adjourned the matter till April 9 for hearing of the applicants’ motion on notice and for final forfeiture.