The Federal High Court in Lagos Thursday ordered the forfeiture of N293million, six parcels of land and 30, 000 MTN shares recovered from a former Commander of the military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta, Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe (rtd).
Justice Mohammed Liman made an order for the temporary forfeiture of the assets to the federal government, following an ex parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The anti-graft agency had alleged that the assets were part of the proceeds of N8.5billion which Atewe allegedly diverted from the military operation between September 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015.
The landed properties were identified as 50 hectares of farmland at Plot No. FL746B Gaube Farmland Extension II Layout, Kuje, Abuja; a piece of land located at Commercial Layout, Yenagoa Gardens, Bayelsa State; one hectare of land in Kuje District, Abuja; Plot No. CP10, Sector Centre B Layout, Kuje, Abuja; Plot MF62 Outer Northern Expressway Cadastral Zone, Abuja; Plot No. 1228 Jahi, Abuja; four hectares of land designated as Plot No.CP6386 and Plot No.CP6387, Sabon Lugbe, Abuja.
An investigating officer of the EFCC, Adamu Yusuf, said Atewe purchased the 30,000 MTN shares for N170,350,000. Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, said it would be in the interest of justice for the court to order the temporary forfeiture of the assets.
After listening to him, Justice Liman granted the prayers and ordered that the temporary forfeiture order be published in a national newspaper. The judge adjourned till April 20 for anyone interested in the assets to appear before him to show reasons why they should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.
The EFCC has since 2016 been prosecuting Atewe alongside a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi; Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga. They were accused of conspiring to divert N8.5billion the military Operation Pulo Shield in the Niger Delta.