Former Chief of Naval Staff, Dele Ezeoba, has forfeited the sum of N1.83 billion to the federal government following an order by the Federal High Court, Lagos on Thursday.
Justice Muslim Hassan granted the permanent forfeiture order following an application by the EFCC through its lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, pursuant to Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act 2006.
The trial judge, Muslim Hassan, had on March 15, issued temporary forfeiture order of the said sum while ordering the EFCC to publish same in a national newspaper in order to bring the court’s decision to the attention of the affected parties.
Delivering his final ruling Thursday, Justice Hassan ordered a final forfeiture of N1.825 billion to the coffers of the Federal Government of Nigeria, pointing out that the EFCC had complied with relevant laws and that the property had not been claimed by any party.
“Having satisfied that such property is an unclaimed property, and also satisfying the provisions of the law, the court shall order the final forfeiture of the said property,” Hassan ruled.
“In this view, there is no other proof required to enable the court make an order of final forfeiture; this application is meritorious and hereby granted.
“An order is hereby made for final forfeiture of the total sum of N1.825 billion to the federal government of Nigeria.”
The EFCC had joined one Chukwuka Onwuchekwa and a company, Aquila Leasing Ltd, as co-defendants in the suit.
The commission noted that the said amount was fraudulently diverted from the treasury of the Nigerian Navy during the time of Ezeoba as Chief of Naval Staff
Ezeoba was said to have opened an account using a false name, Chukwuka Onwuchekwa, as a disguse, but he remained the sole signatory of the account.
The anti-graft agency however noted that the former Naval Chief had agreed in his statement to forfeit the money.