Ex-government may lose 29 duplexes as 1,233 bank accounts are frozen by ICPC.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has seized no fewer than 97 properties from different individuals in the past four years.
The list of seized assets includes 33 buildings, plots of land, and a factory forfeited to the Federal Government by a former accountant with the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, Dr. Jimoh Olatunde.
Olatunde is the prosecution witness in a case of official corruption and abuse of office brought against Prof Dibu Ojerinde, a former head of the National Examination Council and later JAMB registrar.
The ex-JAMB accountant was believed to have acted as a proxy for Ojerinde.
The ICPC in an 18-count accused Ojerinde of diverting public funds estimated at about N5.2bn while he was the head of NECO and JAMB.
Olatunde, who was also the Deputy Director and Head of Treasury, NECO, revealed how Ojerinde allegedly diverted N341.9m from the examination body to set up a personal printing press, school, and buildings.
The witness, who testified before the High Court of Niger State, Minna, told the trial judge, Justice Abdullahi Mikailu, that N216,297,443 was deceitfully withdrawn from NECO account for payment for 17 fictitious printing contracts, which were used for establishing the printing press.
Also, no fewer than 1,233 bank accounts have been frozen by the anti-graft commission between 2019 and now.
However, 60 of the accounts belonging to 15 persons, who were investigated for corruption, have been finally forfeited to the Federal Government.
The accounts contained N547.7m and $669,248.89 in total.
A former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulazeez Yari, lost $669,248.89 and N24,289,910.89 to the Federal Government.
The money was lodged in Yari’s two personal accounts and the accounts operated by his companies, BT Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited and Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.
The sums of N217,388,040 and $311,872 were found in a bank account belonging to BT Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited and another N11,159,674.80 and $301,319.99 kept in an account belonging to Kayatawa Nigeria Limited were also forfeited to the government.
Also, the ICPC has placed under interim forfeiture 29 duplexes in different estates in Jabi, Maitama, Kaduna, Zamfara, and Abuja allegedly belonging to the ex-governor, who is currently on trial for corruption.
The ICPC had accused Yari, a two-term governor, of not being truthful in his assets declaration. It accused him of diverting Zamfara State’s funds, using some companies, including Kayatawa Nigeria Limited and B T Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.
It alleged that on June 18, 2015, BT Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited received a transfer of N150m from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum through Yari, who was then the chairman of the forum.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, subsequently granted a motion by the ICPC seeking permanent forfeiture of the funds.
It could not be ascertained if Yari had appealed the forfeiture order as his lawyer, Mahmoud Magaji, could not be reached for comments on Saturday. He did not respond to calls and he had yet to reply to an SMS sent to his mobile telephone.
The ICPC stated that its motivation for seeking the orders was because “the victim of the alleged crime is the Zamfara State Government and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria and innocent taxpayers, which include judges of courts across Nigeria.”
Other individuals whose property was also forfeited include a Ministry of Niger Delta worker, Daniel Obah, who had plots of land in different parts of Abuja and Rivers State; an officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil, Edike Akpan; Joseph Udoh, a retired Federal High Court official; and Adedeji Taofi, who forfeited a school.
A businessman, Lukumanu Waziri, similarly lost an unregistered Pontiac car, Peugeot 406, Range Rover Evoque, and an unregistered Lexus, as well as a bungalow, land, shoe, and other personal items to the government.
One Adenike Bintu forfeited two plots of land along Airport Road, Abuja, while Okroghene Akpore lost parcels of land and a duplex.
Kabiru Poloma equally forfeited several plots of land in Gombe State, a multipurpose complex, and two hotels – Donkay Hotel and Suites and Snamai Suites.
Also on the list is Adam Yusuf, who forfeited residential buildings in Idu, Abuja, while one Babangida Aliyu also lost a Mercedes Benz car to the government.
The commission in the accompanying letter to the FoI request dated September 27, 2022, and signed by the Director, of Legal Services, Henry Emore, stated, “Funds in the 60 accounts operated by different banks have been finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria and the funds transferred to the ICPC Recovery Account domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria for onward transmission to the Consolidated Revenue Fund since the victim in these cases is the Federal Government.”
Commenting on the development, the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, said the seizures proved that corruption was still alive in Nigeria.
“This further proves that there is still corruption in Nigeria as against what politicians say. They always dismiss the fact that there is still corruption in Nigeria. The ICPC has only exposed the nitty-gritty of what is going on in the country,” Rafsanjani stated.
He, however, commended the anti-graft agencies for their continued fight against corruption, noting, “The ICPC is doing a great job in fighting corruption without political antics and we must commend what they are doing. They are one of the agencies doing their job quietly and we enjoin other security agencies to do the same.
They do the work and we are seeing the results.” But a legal practitioner, Nanfwang Ayuba, said fighting corruption must be supported by ordinary Nigerians, noting that nobody should be seen to be above the law.
Ayuba said, “If we are able to show that nobody is above the law and everybody is equal before the law, then we can say we are winning the war against corruption. However, if there is a perception that the fight is selective or cosmetic, then we are not going to win the war. Corruption should be fought holistically.
“Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be manifestly done. Until we get there, I will say that the ICPC and other anti-corruption agencies are just making attempts in fighting corruption.”
Another legal practitioner, Sani Rabiu, however, said the anti-corruption agencies were carrying out selective justice, which should be improved upon.
Calling for improvement in anti-corruption strategies, he said, “We need a lot of improvement in the fight against corruption because it appears that the agencies that are charged with such responsibilities are not carrying out their jobs as expected.
“Ordinarily, if there is an allegation of corruption against any Nigerian regardless of that person’s political party or location, they should be investigated fairly and justly.
“But it appears that that is not what they are doing. They are still carrying out selective justice. We cannot score them zero, but as a matter of fact, they need to reorganise their mode of operation.”