Court orders forfeiture of ex-NNDC Director’s property

Federal High Court, Lagos

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of four landed property in Lekki allegedly belonging to a former Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Executive Director of Projects, Tuoyo Omatsuli.

The presiding judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, on Thursday made the order based on an ex parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency said the land, valued at N846.03million, was reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.

EFCC accused Omatsuli of receiving kickbacks from a contractor to the NDDC on no fewer than 11 occasions.

An EFCC operative, Adamu Yusuf, said Omatsuli allegedly received a bribe of N3, 645,000,000 from a consultant to the NDDC, Starline Consultancy Services Limited.

EFCC said the firm was engaged to help NDDC recover its statutory three percent annual budgets of oil and gas producing companies in the Niger Delta.

Yusuf said it was agreed that Starline Consultancy Services would be paid 10 percent commission on the total funds recovered.

Starline Consultancy Services, he said, got the help of the House of Representatives Committee on NDCC, which wrote to the oil and gas companies to demand that they pay their statutory levies to the NDDC.

According to the operative, Starline Consultancy Services eventually succeeded in the job and was paid N10, 218,019,060.59 as its 10 percent commission between August 22, 2014, and June 25, 2015.

Yusuf said, “Omatsuli agreed and received kickbacks to the tune of N3, 645,000,000.000 from Starline Consultancy Services Limited through Building Associates Limited, whose alter ego is Francis Momoh (an ally of Mr Omatsuli).”

EFCC presented a table showing that Omatsuli allegedly received kickbacks 11 times from Starline Consultancy Services between August 28, 2014, and September 8, 2015.

EFCC’s lawyer Ekene Iheanacho said it would be in the interest of justice to order the temporary forfeiture of Omatsuli’s landed property in Lekki Peninsula to the Federal Government.

Justice Obizor granted the order and directed EFCC to publish it in a national newspaper to enable anyone interested to show cause as to why the property should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

He adjourned until June 19.