Efforts by the Federal Government to confiscate the unclaimed bribe sum of $15 million allegedly offered to former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu by the former governor of oil rich Delta state, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, received a boost on Tuesday as a Federal High Court siting in Abuja granted an interim order forfeiting the said amount to the Federal Government.
The court, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, also ordered for the publication of the interim forfeiture order in a national newspaper to enable any one who is interested in the money to come before the court within 14 days and show cause why the final order of forfeiture should not be made in favour of the Federal Government.
The orders made by the court was sequel to an exparte motion brought by the government pursuant to section 17(1), (2), (3) and (4) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud related activities Act number 14 of 2006.
The Federal Government, represented by Rotimi Jacobs, in the motion exparte posited that the cash in the sum of $15 million was received by the officers of the anti graft agency from an undisclosed agent of the former Delta state governor in 2007 as a bribe to compromise their investigation.
Mr. Jacobs stated that the Commission deposited the said cash into the strong room number 1 of the Central Bank of Nigeria on 26th April, 2007 and that Mr. James Ibori had since denied giving the bribe to the EFCC or any of its officers.
He also stated that the money had since remained unclaimed since April 2007 till date and had remained dormant in the apex bank’s strong room .
In it’s bid to get the court to acquiesce to its request, the Federal Government in an affidavit deposed to one Mr. Bello Yahaya, a police officer attached to the EFCC stated that the money, if left untouched and unspent in the state it was kept in the apex bank’s strong room since April, 2007, may eventually be destroyed, defaced, mutilated and become useless.
The Federal Government further argued that it is in the interest of justice to, in the interim, make an order of forfeiture to it and allow a publication to be made in a chosen national newspaper to alert any interested member of the public to come out within 14 days to show their interest, failure to which the court will make an order of final forfeiture in government’s favour.