Interim Forfeiture Of N241m SDG Funds: CACOL Commends Judiciary

The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the ruling of The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos which ordered the interim forfeiture to the Federal Government the sum of N241 milion allegedly diverted from the office of the Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

In a press release issued by the anti-graft coalition’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “It would be recalled that the Justice Nicholas Oweibo, who made the order, also forfeited a property linked to the diversion – Real Tower Centre Shopping Complex at Plot 1121, Ekukinam Street, Utako District, Cadastral Zone, Abuja – to the Federal Government.

The judge’s order was sequel to an ex-parte application filed and argued by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo. Oyedepo told the judge that the N241m was warehoused in First City Monument Bank and Zenith bank in the sums of N65m, N61m, N50m and N65m.

The EFCC said its intelligence showed that the Abuja property was purchased with funds furtively diverted from SDG, office of the SSA to the President where Mr. Abdulsalam Bawa is a Principal Accountant.

The EFCC then fingered Bawa as the key suspect, adding that the diversion was perpetrated in conspiracy with some SDG members of staff. It also linked some firms, Kouchdim Unity Nigeria Limited and Lankass Global Ventures, to the diversion.

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 deponent further averred that the Principal Accountant, in collaboration with other staff of the SDG, laundered and retained various sums of money through companies and individuals who made payments for the property sought to be temporarily attached.

The CACOL Chair opined that “It is lamentable that some officers of the Sustainable Development Goals, Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President saddled with the overall implementation of the SDGs, including the timely establishment of institutional frameworks to ensure effective implementation of the Global Goals, an assignment so crucial that those in saner climes are implementing with all diligence, would allow themselves to be moved by their primitive, selfish, wicked and  inordinate desire to divert and accumulate public funds”.

The anti-corruption Crusader further added “It is disheartening to note that official corruption in public spheres is fast becoming a norm in the country. One cannot single out a parastatal or MDA of government that has not been hypnotized or enmeshed in this nefarious orgy of corruption at a point in time. We must devise means to stem the tide of this series of breach of trust by government officials”.

“This is why we hail the decision of the judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, who ordered the interim forfeiture of the money and the properties involved in this corrupt act. We would also like to commend the legal team of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for diligent prosecution of the case. We have always opined that culprits of official corruption need to be deprived of their evil accumulations, wherever and whenever they are found out, and made to face the consequence of their acts as just deserts”.

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