Justice Nicholas Oweibo of a Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture of the sum of N241 milion allegedly diverted from the office of the Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to the Federal Government.
The judge equally ordered the forfeiture of Real Tower Centre Shopping Complex situated at Plot 1121, Ekukinam Street, Utako District, Cadastral Zone, Abuja, to the Federal Government.
The forfeiture order was sequel to the granting of an ex-parte motion filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) through one of its lawyers, Rotimi Oyedepo.
Arguing the motion, Oyedepo told the judge that the money was warehoused in two banks in the sums of N65 million, N61 million, N50 million and N65 million.
The lawyer added that intelligence reports showed that the Abuja property was purchased with funds furtively diverted from SDG, office of the SSA to the President, where one, Abdulsalam Bawa, is a Principal Accountant.
He said the EFCC fingered Bawa as the key suspect and that the diversion was perpetrated in a grand conspiracy with some SDG staff.
Two firms: Kouchdim Unity Nigeria Ltd and Lankass Global Ventures were also linked to the diversion.
After listening to Oyedepo’s submission, Justice Oweibo granted the ex-parte motion and adjourned further hearing in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/90/2021 to September 6, for final forfeiture proceedings.
The ex-parte motion was supported by a four-page affidavit of urgency deposed by an EFCC operative, Ebunoluwa Amusan.
In it, Amusan averred that he was assigned to investigate the “damning intelligence report received by the EFCC by some concerned citizens in respect of abuse of office, diversion of funds and monumental fraud perpetrated by some officers of the Sustainable Development Goals, office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President”.
He added that the intelligence indicated that monies were diverted to some companies owned by some suspects.
“Our investigation revealed that one Abdulsalam Bawa, the key suspect, is a signatory to two (2) corporate accounts where monies from the Agency and those meant for other organisations for projects were diverted to these companies’ accounts, and then further diverted to meet the suspects selfish ends.
“Investigation carried out so far revealed that Bawa is neither a shareholder nor is he listed as shareholder in any of these companies; Kouchdim Unity Nigeria Ltd and Lankass Global Ventures, but he is signatory to the companies’ accounts.
“Investigation revealed Remita inflows traced from the Central Bank of Nigeria, meant for other organisations and for projects were traced to the suspect’s account personal and corporate accounts viz; Lankass Global Ventures and Kouchdim Unity Nigeria Ltd.
“The above mentioned companies alongside their alter ego were fraudulently used to divert funds from government coffers and used to purchase the property sought to be attached.
“The Principal Accountant, in cohort with other staff of the SDG laundered and retained various sums of money through companies and individuals who made payments for the said property sought to be temporarily attached.
“So far, we have traced and discovered a landed property acquired with proceeds of the alleged diversion of public funds and criminal breach of trust by Mr. Abdulsalam Bawa,” the deponent said.