By Soni Daniel – Abuja
A Nigerian Army General has forfeited a princely sum of N426.7 million to the Federal Government on the order of a Federal judge, sitting in Lagos.
John Onimisi Ozigi, a retired Brig-General had been standing trial for alleged graft in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which claimed before the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Muslim Hassan, that the cash was from the proceeds of crime and should be seized from him.
Based on EFCC’s prayers, the court had earlier placed an interim forfeiture order on the cash and asked EFCC to issue public notice to whoever claims ownership of the cash to come forward with justifiable reasons why the money should not revert to the federal government and joined two companies-company, Diamond Head Ventures and Dev. Company Ltd-as co-defendants.
The Commission, in an affidavit deposed to by one of its operatives, Clever Ibrahim, stated that the first respondent, Ozigi, was an officer of the Nigerian Army, while the second respondent, Diamond Head Venture, was a business name owned and incorporated by him in a bid to use same and commit the crime and asked the court to permanently seize the cash to the government of Nigeria.
The Commission, in the application, also stated that the first respondent was a salary earner and a public officer with an estimated monthly salary of about N750,000 and could not have ordinarily raised such amount of money in one fell swoop.
The EFCC, through its lawyer, Nkereuwem Anana, further stated that the money was found in an account opened in the name of the two companies linked to the retired army officer.
Anana, while moving the application for final forfeiture of the money, stated that Ozigi had in his statement to the EFCC indicated willingness to refund the money to the Federal Government, adding that the said statement was attached as an exhibit to the court.
Delivering his judgement on Friday, Justice Hassan granted the motion for final forfeiture as prayed by the Commission.
The Judge held that the respondent failed to satisfy the court with concrete evidence why the money suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities should not be forfeited to the Federal Government.
“The application has met the conditions stipulated in Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Related Offences Act.
“The application is meritorious and it is hereby granted as prayed,” the judge ruled.