The sum of N35 million and a 22-room hotel seized from a convicted former acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Calistus Obi has been forfeited temporarily to the Federal Government by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Justice Saliu Saidu made the order sequel to a motion filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against, La Diva Hotel and Obi, who are the first and second respondents in the suit.
On June 3, 2019, another Federal High Court convicted and sentenced Obi to seven years imprisonment for a N136 million fraud, but with an option of N42 million fine.
At Monday’s proceedings, EFCC’s Counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo said the motion was brought pursuant to Section 17 of the Advanced Free Fraud and other related Offences Act, 2006 and under Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution.
He described the La Diva Hotel as consisting of “22 rooms, lobby, bar, restaurant, kitchen, swimming pool, 350-seater hall, gymnasium and parking lot sitting on 3000 square metres.”
Oyedepo said it was located at Block V, Phase V, Plot No 11 Core Area, Asaba, Delta State.
He told the judge that the N35 million consisted of N7.5million in Zenith Bank and three N10 million deposits in Diamond Bank.
According to him, “The property sought to be attached is reasonably suspected to be acquired and built using proceeds of unlawful activities diverted from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“The respondent’s known and provable income is far less than the property sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The lawyer sought an interim order forfeiting the properties and the sum to the government.
“This Honourable Court has the requisite power and jurisdiction to grant this application. If this application is not granted, the property sought to be forfeited may be sold and dissipated,” Oyedepo said.
He added that the EFCC undertook “to publish in any national dailies, the interim order of this Honourable Court if this application is granted to enable the Respondent or any person who is interested in the property sought to be forfeited to appear before this Honourable Court and show cause why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
In a bench ruling, Justice Saidu granted the application.
The judge adjourned further proceedings till November 4, 2019.