The Federal High Court, Lagos has ordered that the sum of N1.8 billion allegedly diverted from the treasury of the Nigerian Navy by former Chief of Naval Staff, Dele Ezeoba, be temporarily forfeited to the federal government.
Justice Muslim Hassan also mandated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to notify the other defendants that they have a 14-day ultimatum to explain to the court why the money should not be permanently forfeited.
Ezeoba, a retired admiral, headed the Navy between 2012 and 2014 under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the said amount was traced to the account of Aquila Leasing Ltd, adding that the former Naval chief had agreed in his statement to the EFCC to forfeit the money.
“The money is proceeds of crime fraudulently diverted from the Nigerian Navy under the leadership of Dele Joseph Ezeoba,” Oyedepo said.
According to Oyedepo, Ezeoba used the name of “Chukwuka Onwuchekwa” to open a fraudulent account in which he laundered the money.
“Neither the signature nor the driver’s licence used in opening the account was his,” the EFCC lawyer said.
He further said that in a bid to disguise and conceal the source of the money, the former Naval chief signed a Memorandum of Understanding to buy Aquila’s shares from Onwuchekwa, who is the managing director.
The shares were worth N2. 4 billion out of which N1.8 billion has been recovered in drafts in favour of the Federal Government.
Justice Hassan granted the application and fixed the hearing for permanent forfeiture for March 29.