Court orders forfeiture of $2.8 m seized at Airport

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered an interim forfeiture of the controversial $2.8 million, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission seized last week from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

Justice A. T. Mohammed granted the order following a motion filed. Y the EFCC praying it to do so following the non-appearance of the entities which claimed ownership of the cash to show up and claim it. In granting the prayer, the court asked EFCC to publish the order in national newspapers in accordance with appropriate laws.

The order comes despite strong protest by Bankers Warehouse, which has claimed ownership of the huge cash and has asked the anti-graft agency to urgently return the money and tender an unreserved apology for the seizure.

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 But unmoved by the banker’s threat, EFCC also went ahead and deposed to an affidavit of urgency for the matter to be heard on December 27th 2018, before a vacation Judge sitting in Port Harcourt. It will be recalled that the commission had on Thursday last week intercepted the said money based on intelligence report from two persons: Ighoh Augustine and Ezekwe Emmanuel suspected to be money launderers, at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

The agency claimed in a statement that the suspects had confessed during interrogation that they had been in the business of moving cash for “some notable banks”, for over six years and were in the process of doing same for Union Bank Plc, located at New Market, Onitsha, Anambra State, before their arrest.

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They also claimed to be working for a company known as Bankers Warehouse. At the time of filing this report, the alleged owner of the money (Union bank) had not made any physical presence in any of the commission’s offices, including the Enugu office, to establish its claim.

The EFCC Spokesman, Tony Orilade, said on Monday that efforts were being made to secure warrant for the detention of the suspects pending when they would be charged to court. The warrant is consequent upon the refusal of the claimant bank or any of the relatives to come for the release of the suspects.