Since no one came to claim N449,597,000 found stashed in an abandoned Bureau de Change shop in Victoria Island, Lagos, a Federal High court on Friday ordered the final forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.
Justice Rilawan Aikawa made the order following a motion on notice taken before him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The judge ordered that the funds should be forfeited to the Federal Government as no one came forward to claim it.
It would be recalled that the judge had on April 19 ordered the temporary forfeiture of the money and adjourned till Friday for one Mohammed Tauheed, who was joined as respondent in the suit, and any other interested party to appear before him to give reasons why the money should be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.
During Friday’s proceedings, counsel for the EFCC, Idris Mohammed, told the judge that the interim order of April 19 had been advertised in the newspaper on May 11, so as to bring the case to the notice of Tauheed any interested party.
He added that apart from the newspaper publication, Tauheed was also served with the motion on notice.
He urged the judge to order the final forfeiture of the money since neither Tauheed nor anyone else came forward to claim it.
Justice Aikawa, in a short ruling, granted the application.
“This court ordered, among others, the respondent (Tauheed) and any other interested party to show cause, within 14 days, why the interim forfeiture of N449,597,000 should not be made final. As far as my record shows, neither the respondent nor any other interested party has filed any affidavit or any other process to show cause why the interim order should not be made final.
“In the instant case, the respondent has, additionally, not filed any process in response to the motion on notice. In the circumstances, I have no option but to grant the application as prayed.
“Accordingly, I hereby order that the sum of N449,597,000 found in possession of the respondent, which sum is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful activity, be finally forfeited to the Federal Government,” the judge ruled.
The EFCC has filed an affidavit before the judge, stating that operatives of the anti-graft agency found the N449,597,000 on April 7, 2017 in several “Ghana Must Go” sacks in a shop numbered LS64, located on at Legico Shopping Plaza, at Victoria island, Lagos.
He said the EFCC found out that the shop had not been opened for two years, adding that the anti-graft agency recovered the money after investigating intelligence information received on Tauheed.
According to the investigator, Tauheed allegedly conspired with the owner of the abandoned shop to launder the money.
Tauheed told the anti-graft agency that he received the money in cash from a serving government official, whose name he refused to disclose “for security reasons.”