An Abuja high court has granted an order of interim forfeiture of 29 properties in different locations of the federal capital of Nigeria worth about N8.8billion to the government.
The Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Commission (ICPC) applied for the interim forfeiture of the properties through an ex-parte motion.
27 respondents were listed on the motion including Shehu Yaradua Foundation, while others are companies.
ICPC counsel, Osuobeni Akponimisingha, said the twenty-seven respondents had denied ownership of the properties, in order to evade tax liabilities on the properties.
“The immovable properties have been confirmed unclaimed by preliminary investigation activities conducted by the applicant,” Akponimisingha said.
He said that the properties were alleged to have been acquired with proceeds of crimes.
Akponimisingha said the respondents may likely sell off the properties to unsuspecting members of the public if the court does not order the temporary forfeiture.
In an affidavit attached to the motion by one Iliya Markus, an official of ICPC, the court was told that the commission received a petition from the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) about unclaimed properties allegedly acquired in the names of the respondents.
He said the petition had contained an initial 31 immovable properties but upon publication of notice on two national newspapers regarding the properties, two companies came forward to claim two of the properties.
The presiding judge, justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf said the court was satisfied with the argument of the ICPC counsel.
“An interim forfeiture order is hereby made,” Baba-Yusuf ruled.
The judge thereafter fixed September 23 as the return date.
By Brendan Umoren