A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the interim forfeiture of the funds and properties traced to Mr Abidemi Ganiyu Rufai, the suspended aide of Ogun State Governor facing wire fraud charges in the United States.
The order covers Rufai’s property located at House 11. Omodayo Awotuga Street, Bera Estate, Chevy View, Lekki, Lagos, and funds in his accounts domiciled in two banks.
Justice Tijjani Ringim made the order sequel to an ex parte motion filed and argued by a counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) Ebuka Okongwu.
The EFCC joined Rufai, his firm Omo Mayodele Global Investment and one commercial bank as 1st, 2nd and third respondents in the suit.
Okongwu furnished the judge with an affidavit sworn to by an EFCC investigator, Usman Abdulhamid, detailing the agency’s investigation of Rufai in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The investigator stated that Rufai had already dissipated a suspicious N29.37million in tranches of N5,000,000, N5,000,000, N2,730,000, N1,100,000, N2,040,000, N2,000,000, N2,000,000 and N5,000,000.
The funds were warehoused in his accounts in three banks.
Rufai was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport in New York on May 14 over alleged $350,000 COVID-19 unemployment fraud from Washington State Employment Security Department, in the United States.
He was indicted for alleged conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Justice Ringim in a bench ruling granted the EFCC’s order as prayed in the motion paper.
“I am satisfied by the averment in the affidavit deposed to by Usman Abdulhamid and the legal submission of the counsel that this application should succeed and same is accordingly granted as prayed,” he held.
The judge also ordered the EFCC to publish the order within 14 days from Tuesday for any interested party to show cause why the funds and properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
He adjourned further proceedings till December 1, 2021.
According to the affidavit, the EFCC investigated Rufai’s sources of income and bank accounts.
It found that on March 19, 2020, there was an inflow of N4,500,000, which was further dissipated the same day in five tranches of N1,000,000 (in four places) and N500,000 into one of Rufai’s bank accounts.
It said the transaction recurred in the 1st Respondent’s account domiciled with the 3rd Respondent.