Court Orders 7 Banks to Forfeit N249bn Hidden for Unknown Government Officials
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday ordered the interim forfeiture of the sum of $793,200,000 (about N249,659,700,000.00) kept with 7 commercial banks by yet unknown government officials.
The forfeited sum ought to have been remitted to the federal government but had allegedly been hidden with the banks in apparent breach of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policyof the federal government.
Justice Chuka Obiozor gave the order after hearing an ex parte application filed by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and argued on behalf of the federal government by Prof Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN).
It will be recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in the past sanctioned banks for hiding funds belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from the TSA.
The 7 banks affected by the court order are United Bank for Africa (UBA), Diamond Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, First Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Limited and Sterling Bank Plc.
According to court processes filed by Akinseye-George (SAN), $367.4m was hidden by three government agencies in UBA; $41m was kept in a National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) fixed deposit account with Skye Bank.
The documents stated that $277.9m was in Diamond Bank, $18.9m in First Bank, $24.5m in Fidelity Bank, $17m in Keystone Bank, and $46.5m in Sterling Bank.
A 15-paragraph affidavit deposed to by a lawyer from Akinseye-George’s law firm, Vincent Adodo stated that the banks had colluded with the unknown federal government officials to hide the funds which were said to be revenues, donations, transfers, refunds, grants, taxes, fees, dues, tariffs etc accruable to the Federal Government from ministries, departments, parastatals and agencies.
Upon granting the order for the interim forfeiture of N249bn hidden with the 7 banks, Justice Obiozor adjourned till August 8 “for anyone interested in the funds to appear” before him “to show cause why the interim orders should not be made permanent”.
The Nation reports that Justice Obiozor also directed that the order should be published in a national daily newspaper.
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