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N13bn cash: Union Bank asks court to vacate forfeiture order on Ikoyi flat

Three weeks after a Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos granted an interim order of forfeiture on flat 7B Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos where about N13 billion were discovered, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc on Thursday asked Justice Saliu Saidu, to vacate the order.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on April 12, discovered the sums of $43, 449, 947, £27, 800 and N23, 218, 000
in iron cabinets and “Ghana-must-go” bags in the building.

The judge had on November 9, made the order while granting an ex-parte application filed by the anti-graft agency.

Also joined as a respondent in the suit is a firm, Chobe Ventures Limited.

Granting the ex-parte order, Justice Saidu directed the EFCC to notify the respondent in whose possession the property was found to appear before him in a fortnight to show cause why it should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The anti-graft agency was also directed to publicize the interim order in a national daily for the respondent or anyone interested in the property to show cause within two weeks why a final forfeiture order should not be made on the property.

But, when the matter came up yesterday, Union Bank through its lawyer, A. A. Aribisala (SAN) drew the court’s attention to an application seeking to vacate the interim order of forfeiture.

In an affidavit in support of the application deposed to by one, Alfred Olukayode Edun, the bank argued that the forfeited flat was part of the property situated at 16, Osborne Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos, belonging to one, Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Muazu, by virtue of a certificate of occupancy dated 27th September, 2009 and registered as 97/97/2009 in the Lands Registry Office, Alausa, Lagos.

The bank said Alhaji Muazu has already mortgaged the entire property to it by virtue of Tripartite Deed of Legal Mortgage dated November 1, 2011, in order to secure a loan granted to Tripple A Properties & Investment Ltd.

The bank further claimed that the original titled deeds of the property has been vested in it while the loan is yet to be liquidated till date despite the fact that its tenor has expired.

The bank further claimed it sold the property to Chobe Ventures Ltd to liquidate the loan.

However, in its counter affidavit to the application, the EFCC argued that the bank lacks the ‘locus standi’ to challenge the forfeiture of property ‘reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities of Ambassador Ayo Oke and Mrs. Folashade Oke’.

Peter Fowoyo

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