Property Forfeiture: Ex-NIMASA DG Fights To Restain Choice Properties

A Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned until Nov. 13 to hear an application by a former Acting Director General of NIMASA, Haruna Jauro, seeking to restrain the EFCC from attaching his properties.Jauro, who assumed leadership of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) after its erstwhile DG, Patrick Akpobolokemi, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 19-count charge bordering on N304.1 million fraud.He was charged alongside Dauda Bawa and Thlumbau Enterprises Ltd.They were arraigned on April 12, 2016 and all pleaded not guilty to the charges.The EFCC had opened the case for the prosecution and called its first witness, Mr Chukwuma Orji, who had commenced his examination-in-chief.Counsel to Jauro, Mr Olalekan Ojo, had raised objection to the admission of a document in evidence on the grounds that the statements of the accused was not voluntarily obtained.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Mojisola Olatoregun had also ordered a trial-within-trial to ascertain the voluntariness of the statement obtained.The trial within trial was concluded in July.Meanwhile, the defence counsel has filed an originating summons before the court, urging it to restrain the EFCC from attaching the properties of the accused.The EFCC is joined as a defendant in the summons.Ojo is seeking among others, a court’s determination whether the plaintiff’s (Jauro) properties which include a five-bedroom duplex on Plot 9, Block CXX, Ajiran Lekki,Lagos, another duplex on Plot 18, Block CXLI in Ajiran, Lekki and a three-bedroom terrace duplex at FCDA quarters Wuse 2, represent properties against which an interim forfeiture order can be made.He wants a declaration that the plaintiff’s properties are not liable to forfeiture under the provisions of Sections 24 of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004.In addition, he is seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, its agents or officers from applying to a court of law for an interim order of forfeiture or attachment of the said properties.Meanwhile, the anti-graft agency in a counter affidavit deposed to by Huleji Tukura, an investigative officer with the EFCC, it avers that it received intelligence against the plaintiff and then began investigation.It said investigations revealed that the plaintiff, who was a former DG of NIMASA, floated and incorporated a company known as Thlumbau Enterprise Ltd on Sept. 2, 2013.The EFCC alleged that the plaintiff appointed his brother as sole signatory while three of his children were appointed shareholders and directors of the company and that a company’s account was opened.The officer said shortly after the account was opened, the company began to receive and retain various sums of money from NIMASA, adding that intelligence also revealed that the sum of N15 million as well as other sums were paid into the account.