By Sandra Umeh
Lagos – A Federal High Court on Thursday ordered final forfeiture to the Federal Government, of the sum of N280.5 million belonging to two companies owned by a suspected cyber criminal, Obinwanne Okeke (a.k.a Invictus Obi) standing trial in the U.S. for alleged $11 million fraud.
The companies are: Invictus Oil and Gas Ltd. and Invictus Investment Ltd.
Okeke was indicted alongside 77 other Nigerians.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa made the forfeiture order in Lagos following a motion for final forfeiture filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The motion was argued by EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the court had on Oct. 9, granted an application for interim forfeiture of the sum and ordered EFCC to publish the order to enable interested parties to appear and show cause.
At the resumed hearing, Oyedepo informed the court that all requirements for final forfeiture had been met, including publication of the interim order which, he said, was done in the Nation newspaper of Oct. 25.
He then urged the court to grant the application for final forfeiture, saying that there was no opposition to it.
The judge consequently ordered that the N280.5m in Okeke’s bank accounts be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
He held that the court was satisfied that the requirements of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other related Offences Act had been complied with.
In its application, the EFCC had said that Okeke, 31, was a strong leader of a cyber crime syndicate specialising in business email compromise.
In an affidavit deposed to by its investigator, Mr Ariyo Muritala, the EFCC said that it assigned Muritala and some others to investigate a request for information on Okeke and three others by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Legal Attache, U.S. Consulate-General.
It said that the investigation revealed that Okeke was a strong leader of a cyber crime syndicate that specialised in business email compromise.
the commission added: “The said syndicate had defrauded many innocent and unsuspecting victims.
“Obiwanne George Okeke has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America for cyber crime-related offences.”
According to the EFCC, if the N280.5 million is not forfeited to the Federal Government, Obinwanne and his cronies will dissipate same.