Union Bank’s combat for the repossession of the cash-filled Flat 7B Osborne Towers Ikoyi has ended up in smoke.
A Federal High Court in Lagos dismissed the financial institution’s declare at this time, ridiculed the financial institution as a busybody, simply because the court docket ordered the everlasting forfeiture of the property to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The flat attracted public consideration in April final 12 months when giant sums of cash – $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23, 218,000 (about N13bn) – had been recovered from it.
The cash, in accordance with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was stashed away in iron cupboards and “Ghana-must-go” baggage within the condominium.
The anti-graft company later traced the possession of the condominium to Mrs. Folashade Oke, the spouse of the sacked Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke.
It claimed that its investigations revealed that Folashade purchased the property with proceeds of fraud by her husband. It thus urged the court docket to order the everlasting forfeiture of the property to the Federal Government.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun granted the EFCC’s prayer on Friday and dismissed the objection by interloping Union Bank, which claimed to have curiosity within the property.
The decide stated she discovered from the papers filed earlier than the court docket, that the financial institution had already offered the property to Chobe Ventures Ltd., an organization owned by Mrs. Oke.
Justice Olatoregun held, “It seems to me that the social gathering (Union Bank) is a busybody, who’s crying greater than the bereaved, having transferred all its rights on the property, the subject material of this go well with.
“The social gathering has no authorized cause to lodge any grievance on the steps being taken by the EFCC on the property, having divested its curiosity by the outright sale of the property to Chobe Ventures.
“I discover the social gathering’s movement, looking for to vacate the interim order of forfeiture granted by this court docket on November 9, 2017, as unmeritorious and identical is struck out.
“From the affidavit proof earlier than the court docket, the applicant (EFCC) has proven clearly that the property sought to be forfeited was fairly suspected to have been acquired with the proceeds of illegal actions of Mr. and Mrs. Ayodele Oke within the identify of Chobe Ventures.
“The fund belongs to the Federal Government of Nigeria, which, on the materials time, is beneath the management of Ambassador Ayodele Oke.
“The respondent, Chobe Ventures Ltd., refused and uncared for to both file any course of or seem in court docket.
“Based on the provisions of Section 44 (3) (b) of the Constitution and Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2006, I hereby order the final forfeiture of a property described as Flat 7B, situated at No. 16, Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos and its appurtenances to the Federal Government.”
Union Bank had, by way of its lawyer, Chief Ajibola Aribisala (SAN), contended that the possession of the flat had been transferred to it by advantage of a tripartite deed of authorized mortgage of November 1, 2011 executed in its favour by a former two-term governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu.
“The property was mortgaged to United Bank to secure a loan granted to Tripple A Properties & Investment Ltd. by Union Bank,” the financial institution stated.
It stated the unique title deed was vested in it, including that the mortgage’s tenor had expired however it was not liquidated.
Union Bank stated it offered the flat to Chobe Ventures, owned by Oke’s spouse, Folashade, with an settlement that flat’s proprietor would observe a number of “covenants”, together with cost of service fees, land use cost and levies, amongst others.
The financial institution stated Flat 7B types a part of a number of flats within the constructing and that it “cannot be severed from the other flats in the building.”
It added that non-observance of any of the phrases of the settlement “will severely affect the other users of the property”.
Union Bank stated Chobe Ventures’ act of permitting “strangers” to stash monies illegally within the flat violated their settlement, which entitles the financial institution to nullify the flat’s sale.
“The title of Chobe Ventures has not yet been registered and the legal title of the property still resides in Union Bank,” it stated.
Among others, the financial institution stated granting the order of ultimate forfeiture would stop it from implementing the phrases of the settlement on which the flat sale was primarily based.
But the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the applying, urging the court docket to dismiss identical and slightly order the everlasting forfeiture of the property to the Federal Government.
He stated the financial institution’s software was designed to scuttle the forfeiture listening to and was in dangerous religion.
He stated for the reason that financial institution had admitted promoting the flat to Chobe Ventures, it could quantity to consuming its cake and having it by asking the court docket to not order the flat’s forfeiture.
Oyedepo stated primarily based on Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and different Related Offences Act, any property that’s fairly suspected to be a proceed of crime is liable to be forfeited.
“I urge Your Lordship to grant this application, particularly in view of the fact that Chobe Ventures, who allegedly used the proceed of unlawful activity to acquire the property in issue, did not oppose this application or controvert the facts,” Oyedepo stated.