Court seizes N315 million, hotel from NIMASA ex-DG, Invictus

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The Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday ordered the forfeiture of N280,555,010.65 “warehoused” in the bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told the court that the two firms were owned by Obinwanne Okeke, “a strong leader of a cybercrime syndicate that specialised in business email compromise.”

Okeke, popularly known as Invictus, is currently standing trial in the United for an alleged $11 million cyber fraud.

Following an ex parte application by the EFCC through its counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo yesterday, Justice Rilwan Aikawa made an order for the temporary forfeiture of the sums of N240,250,904.46 and N40,304,106.19, which the anti-graft agency said it found in the Nigerian bank accounts of the two firms.

Besides, Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court Lagos sanctioned a temporary forfeiture of the N35 million and a 22-room hotel seized from a convicted former acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Calistus Obi, to the Federal Government.

He made the order following a motion filed by the EFCC against La Diva Hotel and Obi, who are the first and second respondents in the suit.

A Federal High Court, Lagos had on June 3, 2019, convicted and sentenced Obi to seven years imprisonment for an N136 million fraud with an option of N42 million fine.

During yesterday’s proceedings, lawyer to EFCC, Oyedepo, described the hospitality, located in Asaba, Delta State, as consisting of “22 rooms, lobby, bar, restaurant, kitchen, swimming pool, 350-seater hall, gymnasium and a parking lot sitting on 3000 square metres.”

Justice Saidu subsequently adjourned further proceedings till November 4, 2019.

Meanwhile, an American national, Marco Antonio Ramirez, has been re-arraigned before the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja for allegedly defrauding Nigerians of $388,838.88.

He is being re-tried alongside his companies, USA NOW LLC; Eagle Ford Instaldodge Group LP; and USA Now Energy Capital Group LP by the EFCC before Justice Mojisola Dada on a nine-count charge of obtaining money by false pretence.

After entertaining arguments, Justice Dada adjourned further hearing to October 10, 2019.

Also yesterday, the anti-graft agency denied reports that the N900 million recovered from bank officials undergoing trial at the Federal High Court, Ibadan was missing.

The denial was contained in a statement by its spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren.

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