Following a suit filed by a Lagos lawyer, Chuks Nwachukwu, on behalf of Mr. Boniface Okezie, President of Progressive Shareholders Association, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has, on Tuesday ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to declare the total cash and properties recovered from the former Chief Executive Officer of Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, within 72 hours.
The CBN was also ordered to declare the location of the properties and the money recovered. Also, the apex bank was ordered to make public what part of the cash and property had been returned to Oceanic Bank and its shareholders. They are also expected to disclose, among other things, the amount of legal fees paid to professionals and lawyers including Olanihun Ajayi and Kola Awodein Chambers in respect of the prosecution of Cecilia Ibru.
The plaintiff had claimed he wrote a letter to the CBN demanding to know these facts but the CBN refused to respond. It would be recalled that a Federal High Court in Lagos in October 2010 had Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, to 18 months imprisonment without an option of fine after she pleaded guilty to a reduced three-count charge against her by the EFCC. Following the judgment, Ibru had forfeited N191billion in assets which include 49 properties in Nigeria, United States and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The forfeited properties also included shares in over 100 firms that are listed and not listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Meanwhile, in a counter-affidavit filed by Prof. Gabriel Olawonyi on behalf of CBN, the apex bank said it was advised against releasing the information as it will violate the legal practitioner/client privileges principal. But in his judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, while not acceding to the request of the plaintiff that the amount paid to the lawyers involved should be disclosed, ordered that the total cash and property recovered from Cecilia Ibru should be made public by the CBN within 72 hours.