The Federal High Court in Lagos Friday ordered the temporary forfeiture of N1.4bilion, being part of Paris/London Club loan, to the Federal Government.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said N1, 442,384,857.84 was fraudulently obtained from the states through the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF).
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun made the order based on an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC through its lawyer Mr Ekene Iheanacho.
The court directed the commission to advertise the order in a newspaper for any interested person to show cause as to why it should not be permanently forfeited within 14 days.
Melrose General Services Limited, WASP Networks Limited and Thebe Wellness Services are the respondents.
EFCC’s investigator Usman Zakari stated in an affidavit that on May 26, last year, the NGF engaged GSCL Consulting and Bizplus Consulting Services Limited.
He said the “GSCL Bizplus Consortium” was hired to verify, reconcile, and recover excess deductions on the loans from the accounts of states and local government areas (LGAs) between 1995 to 2002.
The Consortium was said to have recovered $6, 483, 282, 424. 61, as the sum to be refunded to the states.
The Consortium submitted an August 31, 2016 report showing a breakdown of the states’ debt profile and over-deductions to the Minister of Finance.
Subsequently, the President approved an initial payment of $1,730,930.53 to the states.
Zakari said in line with the governors’ request, the Ministry of Finance, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), paid $86,546,526.65, and N19,439,225,871.11 (representing five percent of the approved initial Paris and London Club refund) into NGF’s GTBank Plc and Access Bank Plc accounts, purportedly to defray consultancy and incidental expenses.
The N19, 439, 225, 871.11 was paid into the Access Bank account on December 8, 2016; on December 14, 2016, the NGF paid N4,389, 207, 099 .05 to the consortium as part of agreed consultancy fee, Zakari said.
According to him, Melrose General Services, whose alter ego is Robert Mbonu, was never engaged by the NGF for any consultancy services in relation to the Paris and London Club loan refund.
Zakari alleged that Melrose General Services allegedly recopied and misinterpreted the consortium’s work to the NGF for payment.
He said the firm was paid N3.5 billion by the NGF on December 14, 2016.
Zakari said between December 15, 2016 and January 20, 2017, Melrose General Services moved out about N2, 277,615,142 from its account out of the N3.5billion, leaving a balance of N1,222,384,857.84, before EFCC intervened.
The operative said N220million was voluntarily returned by the firm.
He, therefore, urged the court to make an order for a temporary forfeiture of N1,222, 384, 857. 84 in Melrose General Services’ Access Bank account and the recovered N220 million.
Justice Olatoregun adjourned until October 30.
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