•Ikoyi billions: court orders forfeiture of apartment where cash was stashed•
BY EMEKA AGU with agency report•
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has called on Nigerians who want positive change in the country to take advantage of the whistle blowing policy announced by the government early this year.
The Acting Chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Magu, made this call in Vienna, Austria Thursday, the spokesman of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren said in a statement.
Magu also revealed that the “young man” who blew the whistle on the sums of $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23, 218,000 recovered from an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos, last April, is now a millionaire.
Uwujaren said his boss spoke at the 7th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption taking place in Vienna.
On April 12, EFCC operatives broke into a four-bedroom apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, and recovered the huge cash sums stashed in metal cabinets and Ghana-Must-Go bags.
The commission said the discovery followed information provided by the whistle blower at its Lagos office.
Uwujaren quoted Magu as saying that the whistle blower was already a millionaire by virtue of the percentage he was officially entitled to.
“We are currently working with the young man because this is a man who had never seen N1 million of his own before.
“So he is now undergoing counselling on how to make good use of the money and also the security implications.
“We don’t want anything bad to happen to him after taking delivery of his entitlement. He is a national pride,” he said.
He noted that aside from contributing to the eradication of corruption, potential whistle blowers also stood to “benefit from the illicit acquisition by the looters”.
“So we encourage more whistle blowers to come forward with genuine information that will lead to recoveries from looters of the public treasury.
“These are part of the ways that we can bring an end to the madness of looting in the public sector.
“When they know that they have no place to keep their loot, as all eyes will be on them, they will find looting of the public treasury unattractive,” Magu said.
Magu’s disclosure on the lucky fortunes of the whistle blower came just as the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the temporary forfeiture of Flat 7B, Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos where the cash was discovered.
Justice Saliu Saidu ordered the forfeiture of the flat to the federal government yesterday, following an ex parte application by the EFCC.
Upon making the interim forfeiture order, the judge gave anyone interested in the property 14 days to appear before him to show cause why it should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.
He ordered the EFCC to publish the forfeiture order in a national newspaper, to serve as notice to any interested party.
Joined as the only defendant in the ex parte application by the EFCC was Chobe Ventures Limited, said to be linked to the wife of the dismissed Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Mrs. Folashade Oke.
The EFCC said it found out that Mrs. Oke made a cash payment of $1,658,000 for the purchase of the flat between August 25 and September 3, 2015.
She was said to have purchased the property in the name of a company, Chobe Ventures Limited, to which she and her son, Master Ayodele Oke Junior, are directors.
Payment for the purchase of the flat was said to have been made to Fine & Country Realty International, which handled the sale.
The EFCC stated that Mrs. Oke made the cash payment in tranches of $700,000, $650,000 and $353,700 to a bureau de change company, Sulah Petroleum and Gas Limited, which later converted the sums to N360,000,000 and subsequently paid it to Fine & Country for the purchase of the property.
In a 10-paragraph affidavit attached to its ex parte application, an operative of the EFCC, Musa Yusuf, said the anti-graft agency believed that the $1,658,000 used to purchase the property was the federal government’s money which Mr. Ayodele Oke allegedly fraudulently converted to his own while in office as NIA director general.
Yusuf said when the EFCC operatives stormed the flat to recover the cash sums, they found, among others documents, an envelope addressed to Ambassador and Mrs. Ayo Oke from Yemi and Omowale Dipeolu.
He said investigations by the anti-graft agency revealed that in late 2014, Mrs. Ayodele Folasade Oke contacted one Rawlings Ehumadu of Rawlings Ehumadu & Co for a serviced flat for her purchase.
“That the said Rawlings Ehumadu complied with his client’s instruction, locating Flat 7B, No. 16 Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos for Mrs. Ayodele Folasade Oke as a suitable serviced flat.
“Rawlings Ehumadu of Rawlings Ehumadu & Co. contacted Fine & Country International Realty by making an offer and counter-offer on behalf of Chobe Ventures Ltd. for the purchase of the property sought to be forfeited.
“That Mrs. Ayodele Folasade Oke showed interest in the property sought to be forfeited and further contacted one Alhajji Shehu Usman Anka to transfer the total sum of N374,460,000 to Fine & County Realty International.
“That the said Alhaji Shehu Usman, who is a bureau de change operator, received the sum of $1,658,000 in cash from Mrs. Ayodele Folasade Oke, which sum was converted to naira and transferred to Fine & County International Realty.
“That Fine & County International Realty acknowledged the receipt of the sum of N360,000,000 from Chobe Ventures Ltd., being payment for the purchase of a four-bedroomed apartment, known as Flat 7B Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
“That Fine & County International Realty acknowledged the receipt of the sum of N9,450,000 from Chobe Ventures Ltd., being payment of the professional fee rendered to Chobe Ventures Ltd. for the acquisition of the property sought to be forfeited.
“That the sum of $1,658,000, which Mrs. Ayodele Folasade Oke gave in cash to Alhaji Shehu Usman Anka was part of funds belonging to the federal government which was fraudulently converted by Mr. Ayodele Oke while serving as the Director General of the NIA,” the Commission stated.