A court document has directly linked the recently seized N10.9 billion worth of assets to the suspected “unlawful activities” of a deceased army general, Aminu Kano Maude.
‘The court document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES removes the confusing attribution of the assets to an unnamed “top military officer” in the two statements the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has since issued on the forfeiture of the properties.
In what has been criticised as the EFCC’s undue concealment of the identity of the actual person behind the acquisition of the assets the commission had said in a statement on Monday that they were seized from “a top military officer”.
Without providing the name of the top military officer, the statement added that the assets were being “controlled through proxies including the late General Aminu Maude, and companies such as Atlasfield Integrated Services Nigeria Limited, Marhaba Events Place, Aflac Plastics and Atlasfield Gas Plant Limited.”
The anti-graft agency’s follow-up statement on the following day – February 15 – completely excluded Mr Maude’s name while maintaining that the assets were being “held by fronts and proxies to a top military officer”.
The second statement which provided a list of 24 assets covered by the final forfeiture order obtained by the commission from the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, also raised the worth of the assets up from the about N3 billion indicated in the previous statement to N10.9 billion.
But both statements signed by the commission’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, diverted attention away from Mr Maude as the central figure in the alleged fraudulent acquisition of the assets.
A copy of the earlier order issued by the Federal High Court judge, Nkeoye Maha, on May 13, 2020, for an interim forfeiture of the assets, however, explicitly linked the assets to Mr Maude’s suspected unlawful activity.
The court order with the same title as provided by the EFCC in its application for the interim forfeiture order, says, ‘In the matter of the ex-parte application by the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for interim forfeiture of order in respect of some assets situate in different parts of Nigeria suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity traced to on General Maude Aminu Kano (rtd) (a public officer) and his proxies both bodies and individuals”.
The judge, in the court order went on to direct the EFCC to advertise the interim forfeiture order in This Day, Punch, Nation, Guardian Daily Trust or Leadership newspapers.
She order invited any person with justifiable grounds to oppose the issuance of an order for the final forfeiture of the assets to the federal government to appear in court to show cause.
Ms Maha also ordered the EFCC to file a certificate of compliance concerning the advertisement of the interim order not later than seven days.
On February 14, EFCC announced in a statement that the court had issued an order of final forfeiture of the 24 assets valued at N10.9 billion.
The list of the forfeited properties contained landed properties located in different parts of Kano, Katsina, Calabar (Cross River State) and Kaduna.
Among them are nine filling stations scattered in Kano with a total of 300 pumps.
They also included filling stations, Event Centres, Plazas, Block Industries, Truck Assembly Plant, Polythene Production factory and table water factory.
Mr Maude, who hailed from Kano, served in the army finance corps and died in November 2019.
Group demands ‘the whole truth’
An organisation, Coalition for Truth and Justice, on Friday, expressed worries over the seeming identity concealment posturing of the EFCC in its statements on its latest major assets forfeiture efforts.
”We are also alarmed that the EFFC, either by omission or commission, elected to be clever by half. But they failed to realize that their actions have the tendency to affect the psychological state of those in the trenches fighting and sacrificing themselves for the country.
”The EFCC must tell the truth to the country regarding the identity of the military officer who was able to amass properties worth billions of naira,” the National Coordinator of the group, Timothy Charles, said in a statement.
Mr Charles said the EFCC “is economical with the truth”, adding that “the blanket use of “military officer” is deceptive, mischievous, and a mockery of the anti-corruption crusade of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.”
EFCC’s responds to media report
Given the seeming identity concealment portrayed in the EFCC’s statement on the matter, Peoples Gazette, reported that on “Brigadier General Jafaru Mohammed has been revealed as the top military officer fingered in the latest seizure.”
The platform reported that Mr Mohammed “currently” serving as the Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) was appointed by the EFCC in 2017 to take charge of the finances of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) after N13 billion belonging to the spy agency was found in a Lagos apartment.
Responding to the report, EFCC described it as false in a statement on Friday.
EFCC said in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr Uwujaren, that Jafaru Mohammed was not an accountant of EFCC, but did not provide further clarity on the identity of the person from whom the forfeited properties were seized.
The commission’s statement read in full: “The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been drawn to a report by an online news medium, Peoples Gazette, alleging that a certain Jafaru Mohammed whom it claimed stole N10.9billion from the NIA Ikoyi loot is an accountant of the EFCC.
“The claim is false and intended to mislead the public. For the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC has no accountant by name, Jafaru Mohammed and could not have appointed him to serve in another agency.
“It is infantile to suggest that the Commission would appoint an accountant for the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, which is not a department of the EFCC.
“The public is enjoined to discountenance the report which is dripping with mischief for which Peoples Gazette has become notorious.”
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