Court orders forfeiture of N2.5m suspected ‘Bribe Money’ to FG

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has ordered that the sum of N2.5 million, which became a subject of controversy between a drug convict and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, be forfeited to the Federal Government.

The convict, Fatimah Hassan, through her lawyer, Oke Ojakovo, had informed the court during her trial that NDLEA officials had demanded for the money, as the only means of securing her bail. But upon collecting the money, she was not granted bail.

Meanwhile, the NDLEA through its prosecutor, Mr. Lambert Nor, informed the court that the convict’s wanted to use the money as bribe, so that she would not be prosecuted.

The development, which made Justice Akintayo Aluko to summon two top officials of the agency, whose names were mentioned in the course of trial of the convict.

The two NDLEA’s officials summoned by the court were: Quatu Mohammed, former Lagos State Commander of the Agency, and one officer called Sanni, who was later known as Abaekwue Ngozie, who told the court circumstances surrounding the money.

Ruling on the parties’ submissions on the money, trial judge, Justice  Aluko, after reading through all arguments of the parties, authorities supplied and after citing plethoras of authorites held, “From the evidence of both prosecution and defence witnesses, the money was meant to facilitate the release of the convict, then a suspect from the custody of the agency who was arrested for the offence of unlawful dealing in 33.5kg of cannabis sativa against the provision of Section 11 (c) of the Act.

“It is not in doubt that the offence of unlawful dealing in 33.5 kg of cannabis sativa is a violation of the provisions of the NDLEA Act.

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“Offering the sum of N2.5million or any sum for that matter to facilitate the release of the convict, who was then in the custody of the agency at the time she was arrested and held for violation of the relevant provisions of the Act is against the spirit, the intendment, purpose and objectives of the provisions of the Act.

“By the combined efficacy of the provision of Sections 19(1) (a ) – (d) of the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery And Management Act), 2022, any property or money involved in the facilitation of an unlawful activity like in the instant case is liable to be forfeited.

“By the combined provisions of sections 19, 22 and 68 of the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and management) Act, 2022, the court is clothed with powers and jurisdiction to order forfeiture of such monies to be paid into an account known as the Confiscated And Forfeited Properties Account maintained at the CBN.

“Accordingly, the sum of N2.5million being sum of money procured by the convict’s relations presented and offered to the men and officers of the Agency for the release of the convict from custody of the NDLEA constitute property or money involved in the facilitation of unlawful activity under Section 19 (1) (c} of the proceeds of crime (Recovery & Management) Act, 2022. The said sum is liable to forfeiture.

“It is hereby forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“The appropriate organ, directorate or department of the Agency Is hereby ordered to pay the money into the confiscated and forfeited properties Account maintained with Central Bank of Nigeria and proceed to file affidavit of compliance before the Court.”

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