The Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed January 19, 2018 to rule on an application by Union Bank Plc opposing the move to have Flat 7B, Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The flat attracted public attention in April last year when large sums of money — $43,449,947; £27,800 and N23, 218,000 (about N13bn) — were recovered from it.
The money, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was stashed away in iron cabinets and “Ghana-must-go” bags in the apartment.
The anti-graft agency later traced the ownership of the apartment to Mrs. Folashade Oke, the wife of the suspended Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke.
It claimed that its investigations revealed that Folashade bought the property with proceeds of fraud by her husband.
It, therefore, obtained a court order for the temporary forfeiture of the flat in November last year.
But Union Bank Plc later approached the court with an application seeking to vacate the interim forfeiture order.
The bank, through its lawyer, Chief Ajibola Aribisala (SAN), contended that the ownership of the flat had been transferred to it by virtue of a tripartite deed of legal mortgage of November 1, 2011 executed in its favour by a former two-term governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu.
“The property was mortgaged to Union Bank to secure a loan granted to Tripple A Properties & Investment Ltd.,” the bank said.
It said the original title deed was vested in it, adding that the loan’s tenor had expired but it was not liquidated.
Union Bank said it sold the flat to Chobe Ventures, owned by Oke’s wife, Folashade, with an agreement that the flat owner would observe several “covenants”, including payment of service charges, land use charge and levies.
The bank said Flat 7B forms part of several flats in the building and that it “cannot be severed from the other flats in the building.”
It added non-observance of any of the terms of the agreement “will severely affect the other users of the property.”
Among others, the bank said granting the order of final forfeiture would prevent it from enforcing the terms of the agreement on which the flat sale was based.
But the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the application, arguing that the bank’s application was designed to scuttle the forfeiture hearing and was in bad faith.
The presiding judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, adjourned till January 19 for ruling.
Source: ( Punch Newspaper )