Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday ordered the final forfeiture of over N284 million linked to a former governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari, to the Federal Government.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had arraigned Yari and two companies – Kayatawa Nigeria Limited and B.T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited for allegedly taking the money from Zamfara State treasury.
The commission alleged that the funds – $687,874.81 and N24, 289,522.89 – were lodged in accounts domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc and Polaris Bank.
At Tuesday’s proceeding, the ex-governor’s lawyer, U.Kelechi, argued that his client was rich before he assumed office in May 2011.
In her ruling, Justice Ojukwu said Yari did not show to the court how he made the money.
She queried how one of Yari’s company’s bank accounts grew from zero to a humongous amount at the end of his tenure in 2019.
She insisted that the ex-governor cannot claim that the monies belong to him without showing evidence.
The judge dismissed Yari’s claim of a political witch-hunt and ordered that the funds be forfeited to the federal government.
She said: “There is nothing wrong in having a huge sum of monies in one’s account. But what the law requires is that such proceeds should emanate from legitimate sources or businesses. The respondents who have been given an opportunity to tell their story, have failed to provide evidence for such legitimate income.
“The respondents have not countered the case and facts presented by the applicants. The respondents having failed to establish the legitimate source of the monies as stated in this case, the honourable court hereby makes an order of final forfeiture of the following:
“An order of final forfeiture of the sum of N12, 912, 848.68 being proceeds of some unlawful activity stashed in Zenith Bank Plc in the name of Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari.
“An order of final forfeiture of the sum of $57, 056.75, being proceeds of some unlawful activity stashed in Polaris Bank with an account number in the name of Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari.
“An order of forfeiture of the sum of N11,159,674. 17 being proceeds stashed in Zenith Bank Plc in the name of Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.
“An order of final forfeiture of the sum of $319, 000.91 being proceed of some unlawful activity stashed in Zenith Bank Plc in the name of Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.
“An order of final forfeiture of the sum of N217, 000.04 being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Zenith Bank Plc in the name of B.T Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.
“An order of final forfeiture of the sum of $311, 817.15 being proceeds of some unlawful activity stashed in Zenith Bank Plc in the name of B.T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.
“The orders as identified and stated above shall be and are hereby forfeited to the federal government.”
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