© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
FRAUD: Court orders ex-Naval director to forfeit almost N500m to FG
A FEDERAL High Court, Abuja, on Monday has ordered the permanent forfeiture of about N500million found to be fraudulently amassed by a former director of Nigeria Navy Accounts, Tahir Yusuf to the Federal Government.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu ruled that Yusuf, a retired Rear Admiral would forfeit the money which is in naira, dollar and pounds sterling to the government after investigations and evidences proved that he stole it while serving as Director of Nigeria Navy Accounts.
The total amount forfeited was N392, 695,857.87 including $91,955.38 and the sum of £15,050 held in domiciliary accounts.
Yusuf, previously second-in-command to the Chief of Account and Budget, Naval Headquarters (NHQ), held the cash in seven accounts- both private and corporate accounts in two separate banks.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who arraigned him said three out of the seven accounts were operated under the name of a company, Bitmas Enterprise, in Zenith Bank while two were held in Yusuf’s name in the defunct Skye Bank, now Polaris Bank.
In 2018, after the court granted an order for interim forfeiture of the money and ordered the anti-corruption agency to publish the order in a national daily for any interested party to claim the money, Yusuf filed a counter-affidavit, claiming ownership of the money with claims that it was sourced through legitimate avenues.
However, the court disregarded claims by Yusuf, whose former job description in the Naval administration involved verifying and authenticating documents before payments while keeping custody of accounts balance.
Investigations by EFCC revealed that the ex-naval officer was linked to seven accounts (corporate and personal)with the following details: In Zenith Bank accounts 1011701670 (N32,268,758.50); 9000617386 (N320,132,530.57); 1011904172 (N2,414,034.39); 5360132431 ($34,875.00); 5060017083 (£15,050.00) – all held in the name of Bitmas Enterprises.
Two other accounts – 2120012772 ($57,080.38) and 1060100885 (N2,390,987.69) – were held in Skye Bank in Yusuf’s name.
Court documents also revealed that Yusuf had made a proposal for a plea bargain to the EFCC, allegedly volunteered to forfeit N200 million, which the commission had rejected.
In the course of the trial, the EFCC also called for the investigation of two other top officials in the navy –Rear Admiral Babajide Oguntola and Commander Bello Mohammed – in alleged case of conspiracy, abuse of office and money laundering.