The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered former Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Adesola Amosu to forfeit N2.2billion to the Federal Government.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun made the order based on an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), The Nation reports.
The judge ordered that N2,244,500,000 recovered by the commission from Amosu be paid into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) with Guarantee Trust Bank.
Justice Olatoregun agreed with EFCC that the money is “proceeds of unlawful activity.”
The judge also ordered the final forfeiture of N190,828,978.15 recovered from a former Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Director of Finance and Budget Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo.
Also forfeited was N101 million recovered from Solomon Enterprises, a company linked to Amosu.
Justice Olatoregun held that EFCC complied with the orders made last June 7, including that the interim forfeiture of the sums be advertised in The Nation and Punch newspapers.
The judge dismissed counter-affidavits by Amosu and Gbadebo, holding that they did not justify the money’s valid ownership.
She also dismissed their arguments that they were currently undergoing trial over the same sums sought to be forfeited and that granting the final forfeiture order would foist a “fait accompli” on the trial court.
According to Justice Olatoregun, the forfeiture case was an “action in rem” and non-conviction based.
“The requirements for the two proceedings are different and distinct,” she held.
The judge emphasised that in a forfeiture proceedings, evidential burden shifted to the respondents to prove that they obtained the money lawfully, which she said they failed to do.
“The case (forfeiture proceedings) can go on in the face of the criminal proceedings,” she said.
According to her, the respondents did not provide any justification for not granting EFCC’s application.
“They failed to provide any facts as to the level of probability to ascertain if the funds were obtained lawfully.
“Upon examination of the two applications asking that the interim orders be set aside, I found no reason to set aside the orders. The applications are hereby dismissed.
“The only conclusion I can reach is that the funds are proceeds of an unlawful activity.
“The affidavits disclose no reason why the order of final forfeiture should not be made,” she held.
After ordering the sums’ final forfeiture, she directed the EFCC to file an affidavit of compliance within 14 days.
Amosu, Gbadebo and former NAF Chief of Accounts and Budgeting Air Vice Marshal Jacob were on trial before Justice Mohammed Idris, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal last year.
They were re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, but the trial is yet to resume.
EFCC accused them of converting N21billion from NAF through various companies, namely Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd, Mcallan Oil and Gas Ltd, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd, Trapezites BDC, Fonds and Pricey Ltd, Deegee Oil and Gas Ltd, Timsegg Investment Ltd and Solomon Health Care Ltd.
Before the trial started, Amosu had told the court that he was holding plea bargain talks with the EFCC.
Arguing his bail application after Amosu’s arraignment in June 2017, his lawyer Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) said his client had returned “collossal sums”.
However, after the plea bargain talks broke down, trial started.
EFCC’s investigator Tosin Owobo, while testifying before Justice Idris, said N5.9billion was transferred from NAF accounts to Delfina Oil and Gas, among others.
He said once the money was converted to dollars, it would be handed over to Gbadebo, who took it to Adigun, who in turn took it to Amosu.
He said Mcallan Oil and Gas received N6.1billion from NAF, while Trapezites BDC received N3.6billion.
Owobo said Deegee Oil and Gas received N800million from NAF accounts, while Timsegg also got the same amount.
“These companies were not into oil and gas. The N21billion was moved from various NAF accounts without appropriation,” he said.
The defendants were accused of using the companies to convert and conceal the money.
Amosu and Adigun were said to have, between July 17 and September 16, 2014, allegedly removed over N663.4million from the Nigerian Air Force accounts to purchase properties at 50-52 Tenterden Grove, London (NW4 1TH) and at 93B Shirehall Park, LondonNW4 2QU, United Kingdom.
They were accused of buying 40A, Bourdillon, Ikoyi, with N900million, and a property at Sinari Daranijo in Victoria Island with N1.5billion.
EFCC said they also bought a property named as Cappadol Mall at Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Wuse II Abuja, for N750million, as well as a property worth over N1.7billion at Agobogba Street, Parkview, Ikoyi Lagos, using the airforce’s money.
Other properties they allegedly bought using Air Force’s funds include one at Salt Lake Street, Maitama, Abuja; one at Agadez Street off Aminu Kano Crescent, Abuja; 61A, Lake Chad Street, Maitama, Abuja; and one at 1, River Street, Wuse II Abuja using alleged stolen funds.
he defendants allegedly used N428,139,539.00 removed from NAF accounts to renovate and purchase medical equipment for Solomon HealthCare Ltd situate at 24th Adeniyi Jones Street, Ikeja Lagos.