A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture, to the Federal Government, of the sum of ₦241milion allegedly diverted from the office of the Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which instigated the forfeiture order told Justice Nicholas Oweibo on Friday that it received a damning intelligence report from some concerned citizens in respect to abuse of office, diversion of funds, and monumental fraud perpetrated by some staff of the accounts department in the office of the SSA to the President.
The EFCC said its investigation revealed that one Abdusalam Bawa, the key suspect, is a signatory to two corporate accounts which housed monies diverted from the coffers of the agency.
It also linked Kouchdim Unity Nigeria Ltd and Lankass Global Ventures to the diversion.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo who approached the court via an exparte application told the judge that the sum of ₦241m was warehoused in two banks in the sums of ₦65million, ₦61million, ₦50million and ₦65million.
Justice Oweibo directed the anti-graft agency to publish the interim forfeiture in any national newspaper for anyone who is interested in the forfeited funds to appear before the court within 14 days to show cause why a final forfeiture order should not be made in favour of the Federal Government.
He adjourned the final forfeiture proceedings till September 6, 2021.
Oyedepo’s application was backed by a four-page affidavit of urgency deposed to by an EFCC operative, Ebunoluwa Amusan.
Amusan averred that he was assigned to investigate the “damning intelligence report received by the EFCC by some concerned citizens in respect of abuse of office, diversion of funds, and monumental fraud perpetrated by some officers of the Sustainable Development Goals, office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President.”
The intelligence indicated that monies were diverted to some companies owned by some suspects.
“Our investigation revealed that one Abdulsalam Bawa, the key suspect, is a signatory to two corporate accounts where monies from the agency and those meant for other organisations and for projects were diverted to, and then further diverted to meet the suspects’ selfish needs.
“Investigation carried out so far revealed that Bawa is not a shareholder nor is he listed as a shareholder in any of these companies; Kouchdim Unity Nigeria Ltd and Lankass Global Ventures, but he is a signatory to the companies’ accounts.
“Investigation revealed Remita inflows traced from the Central Bank of Nigeria, meant for other organisations and for projects were traced to the suspect’s personal and corporate accounts viz; Lankass Global Ventures and Kouchdim Unity Nigeria Ltd.
“The above-mentioned companies alongside their alter ego were fraudulently used to divert funds from government coffer and used to purchase the property sought to be attached.”
The deponent further averred that “the Principal Accountant, in cohort with other staff of the SDG laundered and retained various sums of money through companies and individuals who made payments for the said property sought to be temporarily attached.
“So far, we have traced and discovered a landed property acquired with proceeds of the alleged diversion of public funds and criminal breach of trust by Mr. Abdulsalam Bawa.
“We have recovered a total sum of ₦241million from Abdusalam Bawa, Udeme Usoro, Mohammed Auwal and Danyaro Dakan Sarpiya; some of the staff of the accounts department of the SDG office,” he added.
Attempts to get the reaction of the SSA to President Buhari On SDG, Mrs Orelope Joke Adefulire was unsuccessful as at the time of filling this report.