Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Friday
awarded the Federal government, ownership of $15million, the money used by former governor of Delta state purportedly to bribe a former chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, head of the EFCC at the time, who had warehoused the money with the Central Bank of Nigeria, even went further to charge the jailed governor with a bribery attempt.
The money has been the subject of legal tussle between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Delta State Government, since Ribadu was removed from the EFCC by the Yar’Adua administration.
The EFCC had in July 2012, approached the court, requesting for a final order forfeiting the $15 million Ibori bribe which had been lying in the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria for more than five years to the Federal Government as unclaimed proceed of crime. But the Delta state government challenged the application as the state government laid claim to the said amount.
Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs had told the court that it was too late for the Delta State government to lay claim to the money because of the actions which the state government
instituted against the EFCC on the ground that the governor should not be investigated.
Justice Kolawole while delivering his judgement said he viewed the stiff resistance mounted by the Delta state government and its official as one
which borders on the state’s acquiesce in the looting of its own fund or at best, as that of collaborators with its erstwhile governor on issue of $15 million allegedly offered to former EFCC
chairman, Nuhu Ribadu as bribe”.
Justice Kolawole said that in the final analysis, “the applicant’s application to make a final forfeiture order succeeds and the said sum of $15
million dollars is hereby forfeited to the first applicant that is the federal government who shall take steps to capture in its earnings of the Federal Government of Nigeria in its 2012/2013 fiscal year and shall administer the funds to address specific needs that will be beneficial to a greater number of the citizenry”.
He also ordered that the sum be immediately paid to the coffers or account of the appropriate authority of the Federal Government of Nigeria
where earnings such as this are kept in the ordinary course of official business”. [PMNews]