Ex Gov Nnamani To Forfeit Assets To FG, Court Rules

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By Abiose Adelaja Adams, Lagos

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the forfeiture of multi-billion naira assets belonging to former governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani.

The former governor was charged along with his former aide, Sunday Anyaogu, and six firms – Rainbownet, Hillgate Nigeria, Cosmos FM, Capital City Automobile Nig Ltd, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.

EFCC re-arraigned them on 105 counts of money laundering and economic crimes involving about N4.5billion, committed while Nnamani was governor of Enugu State between 1999 and 2007. The defendants pleaded not guilty.

Part of the alleged laundered money was from the Excess Crude Oil Funds meant for some local government areas, including Aninri, Enugu South, Agwu, Igbo Etiti and Isi Uzor, which was allegedly transferred to Nnamani’s bank account in the United States.

In her ruling on Tuesday, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, ordered the forfeiture of his assets namely undeveloped properties and transmission equipment of Rainbownet Limited; properties of Hill Gate Investment Limited/Cuena Phones Limited; assets of Cosmo 105.5FM, and 22 duplexes at Ebeano Housing Estate (now Fidelity Estate).

Others are Rainbownet’s shares in Zenith Bank and Guarantee Trust Bank, with a combined account balance of N4.6million; as well as monies in its bank accounts worth about N34.8million.

The balances in different accounts with GTBank N313,700; Sterling Bank N986,958; Ecobank N24.5million; First City Monument Bank N3.8million and Zenith Bank N761,156.

EFCC said it is awaiting details of balances in Rainbownet’s 10 accounts with Access Bank.

The forefeiture order included the Rainbownet’s undeveloped properties. They include seven plots at Independence Layout; 567.96 Square meters (Sqm) at Abakpa; 574.96 Sqm at Emene and 2,951.98 Sqm at Achara Layout.

Others to be forfeited include thousands of square metres of properties at Abia State, namely Ogbor Hill (914.633), Abayi (one and half plots), Port Harcourt Road (1,856.449), Ariaria (640.32), Umungasi (573.263) and Asannetu (954.396), as well as Abakiliki, Ebonyi State (one plot).

Others are in Onitsha, Anambra State. They are at Barracks (one plot), Nkpor (1088.644), Awada (465.14), Fegge (one plot) as well as 2,200.06 square miles of land at Okpuno, Awka.

The company is also to lose 693.636 square meters of undeveloped property located opposite the War Museum, Umuahia.

Assets of Rainbownet Communications Limited, including Central Switch Room, Microwave Radio, Rectifier, Microwave Backhaul Transmission, among others at various locations in Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia and Imo states are to be forfeited.

Justice Yunusa later split Nnamani’s trial from his co-accused as he was abroad receiving treatment.

However, after the trial was split, four of the companies on May 19 pleaded guilty to a 10-count amended charge through their counsel.

The companies are Rainbownet, Cosmos FM, Capital City Automobile and Renaissance University Teaching Hospital.

They were alleged to have failed to comply with lawful inquiry made by the commission.

Justice Yunusa had adjourned to July 7 for review of facts and sentences after EFCC’s lawyer, Kelvin Uzozie, told the court that he was still trying to get a list of all the companies’ assets.

On Tuesday, he prayed the court to convict the companies in view of their plea after tendering some documents, including the assets’ schedule.






     

     

    He also urged the court to make an order of the assets’ forfeiture and for the commission to be involved in their management.

    Counsel to the companies, Ifeanyi Ezeome, during the alucutus (plea for mercy), urged the court ‎to temper justice with mercy since they were first offenders.

    “It is hereby ordered that the properties listed in the schedule be forfeited to the Federal Government”, Justice Yunusa ordered, adding that a company can be treated as a natural person in law.

    The case of the remaining accused persons have been adjourned to November 12.

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