The federal and Lagos State governments on Tuesday argued over the ownership of N28.5 million and houses allegedly acquired by corrupt means by a civil servant in the state.
The funds and properties, which are subjects of a forfeiture proceedings, were traced to Alade Anifowoshe, a Director of Accounts in the Lagos State Public Works Corporation, and are suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
Rilwan Aikawa, a judge of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, had on December 7, 2017 ordered temporary forfeiture of the money and properties to the federal government.
The properties, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, include six flats of three-bedroom apartments, six flats of two-bedroom apartments, and six flats of one-bedroom apartments on Adewale Osiyeku Street, Offin-Ile Igbogbo, Ikorodu, Lagos State.
Others are four sets of three-bedroom duplexes at No. 6, Tunde Gabby Close, Dopemu Area, Pako Bus Stop, Agege, Lagos State; as well as a semi-detached three bedroom flat and a unit of three-bedroom terrace at Cranbel Court, Citiview Estate Arepo Ogun State.
Also seized is a plot of land at Queen’s Garden Estate off Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
The EFCC had brought an application seeking the forfeiture of the properties as well as the money traced to Mr. Anifowoshe’s bank account.
While granting the order of temporary forfeiture, the judge had ordered the EFCC to publish the court’s decision in a national newspaper notifying the respondent whose properties is sought to be forfeited to appear and show cause within 14 days why it should not be done.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Wole Okenile, counsel to Mr. Anifowoshe, opposed the permanent forfeiture of the houses and the money recovered from his client, contending that the EFCC had not proven that the properties were proceeds of fraud.
Mr. Okenile said the land which the EFCC is seeking forfeiture was bought for N50,000 by his client in 2000 and invited the Commission to show proof that it was acquired with the proceeds of unlawful activities.
He also urged the anti-graft agency to actually prove that the properties and money were proceeds of crime instead of “dumping the documents” before the court.
But while protesting at the forfeiture proceedings, Saheed Quadri, a Director of Civil Litigation at the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, urged the court to forfeit the money and properties to the state government instead of the federal government.
Mr. Quadri argued that it was the funds of the Lagos State government that were allegedly diverted.
But Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel for the EFCC, pleaded with the court to forfeit the asset to the federal government, saying Lagos State could always approach them for an agreement.
After listening to the lawyers, the judge adjourned till January 31 for ruling.
The EFCC, in its application, accused Mr. Alade of diverting funds from the Lagos State Public Works Corporation into the bank account of a company, MAJ Anny International Limited, where he is a director.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the ex-parte application, an operative of the EFCC, Zayyanu Halliru, said Mr. Alade is the sole signatory to the company’s account.
He added that Mr. Alade abused his position as “the final authoriser of the Internet banking system of the Lagos State Public Works Corporation.”
The investigator said, “The respondent used his office and position to enrich himself with the funds from Lagos State Public Works Corporation to acquire landed properties within Lagos and Ogun states,” adding that the EFCC had recovered the properties.”
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