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Court orders interim forfeiture of 48 properties linked to ex-NSTIF chair

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FEDERAL High Court, Abuja, has ordered the interim forfeiture of 48 choice properties, allegedly belonging to Ngozi Olejeme, the former Chairman of Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Funds (NSITF).

Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the High Court made the order on Wednesday following a motion ex-parte filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The affected properties are spread across, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Bayelsa, Enugu, Edo and Delta states.

Olejeme who was also the Treasurer of the Jonathan-Sambo Campaign Organisation in 2015 has been on the run since 2016 and was in September, 2017, declared wanted by the EFCC for criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds and money laundering.

Trouble began for Olejeme, who was NSITF chairman from 2009 to 2015, when the EFCC in 2016, received two petitions detailing multi-billion naira fraud allegations against her, Abubakar and some bureau-de-change operators.

She was alleged to have, along with Umar Munir Abubakar, former managing director of NSITF, mismanaged and diverted over N69 billion, belonging to the Federal Government into their personal accounts through the award of spurious contracts to proxy companies.

The forfeiture order was granted after Ekele Iheanacho, counsel to the EFCC, convinced the court that the said properties were purchased with proceeds of crime. He buttressed his position with 14 exhibits, attached to his affidavit, filed on May 29, 2020.

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In granting the application, Justice Taiwo ruled that the interim order should be published in a leading newspaper within seven days of receipt of the order and for any interested party to show cause within 14 days as to why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.

He adjourned the matter till July 27, 2020.

The ICIR had in 2018 reported that EFCC traced 38 houses allegedly belonging to Olejeme.

Then, the Commission said it had obtained an interim forfeiture order from the court to seize the properties until the conclusion of the case against her.

It also secured a warrant authorising her detention for two weeks for further interrogation.

This, the Commission explained, would allow it to complete the first round of the investigation and her arraignment.

But Olejeme reportedly took ill and was admitted to a private hospital in Abuja, where she’s being watched by EFCC operatives.

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Author profile

Abeeb Alawiye formerly works with The ICIR as a Reporter/Social Media officer. Now work as a Senior Journalist with BBC News Yoruba. You can shoot him an email via Abeeb.alawiye@bbc.co.uk or follow him on Twitter @habsonfloww

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