© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Invictus Obi loses over N280 million to FG after court ruling
THE Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has ordered the permanent forfeiture of N280,555,010.65 to the Federal Government, linked to embattled Nigerian entrepreneur Obinwanne Okeke, also known as Invictus obi.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had filed an ex – parte motion to seize the money, stating that the funds were “reasonably suspected” to be proceeds of cyber-crime, requesting that the judge ordered a forfeiture.
The presiding judge, Rilwan Aikawa, had ordered the EFCC to publish the interim forfeiture order in a national daily and adjourned till November 21 for anyone interested in the money to appear before him to give reasons why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
At the resumed hearing on Thursday, the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the anti-graft agency had published the interim forfeiture order as directed by the court but there was no opposition.
However, the said amount was traced to the bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited and the EFCC noted that two firms were owned by Invictus Obi whom it described as, “a strong leader of a cyber-crime syndicate that specialises in business e-mail compromise”.
The Commission, therefore, asked that the judge order the permanent forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.
“I have seen the application seeking the final forfeiture of the sum of N280.5m warehoused in the two bank accounts, which was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
“I am satisfied that the requirements enumerated under Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act have been met by the applicant in this suit; consequently, this application is hereby granted as prayed, as it remains unchallenged.
“The sum of N280.5m found in the bank account of Invictus Investment limited, who is the second respondent in this suit, is hereby forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” the judge ruled.
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI had apprehended Okeke, 31, over $11M fraud, allegedly defrauding some US citizens “through fraudulent wire transfer instructions in a massive, coordinated, business e-mail compromise scheme”.
In 2016, Invictus Obi was celebrated by Forbes as one of Africa’s “most outstanding 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30”. He was described by the magazine as “proof that there is hope for Africa”.
Okeke holds a master’s degree in International Relations and counter-terrorism from Monash University Australia, and he is the founder of Invictus Group – a conglomerate in construction, oil, gas and agricultural development.
He has investments in real estate development, energy and construction. His company, Invictus Group, operates in three African countries: Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia.