THE Federal High Court sitting in Lagos ordered the temporary forfeiture of N293 million and assets belonging to Emmanuel Atewe, former commander of Military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta.
Atewe is facing prosecution instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 22-count charge of money laundering, stealing and conspiracy.
Others facing the same charges include Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Kime Enzogu and Josephine Otuaga.
The order of interim forfeiture follows an ex-parte application by the EFCC alleging that the assets were part of the proceeds of N8.5 billion for the military Operation Pulo Shield in the Niger Delta, which he is accused of diverting from the military between September 5, 2014, and May 20, 2015.
The presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Liman stated that alongside the N293 million temporarily confiscated by the Federal Government, six parcels of land and 30,000 MTN shares were also recovered.
Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, argued that it would be in the interest of justice for the court to order the temporary forfeiture of the assets.
Justice Mohammed adjourned the trial until April 20, 2020, for anyone interested in the assets to appear before the court to show reasons why they should not be forfeited permanently to the Federal Government.
The landed properties identified include 50 hectares of farmland at Plot No. FL746B Gaube Farmland Extension II Layout, Kuje, Abuja; a piece of land located at Commercial Layout, Yenagoa Gardens, Bayelsa State; one hectare of land in Kuje District, Abuja; Plot No. CP10, Sector Centre B Layout, Kuje, Abuja; Plot MF62 Outer Northern Expressway Cadastral Zone, Abuja; Plot No. 1228 Jahi, Abuja; four hectares of land designated as Plot No.CP6386 and Plot No.CP6387, Sabon Lugbe, Abuja.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.