The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, has ordered the final forfeiture of various amounts estimated at about N700 million linked to Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari, a former Zamfara Governor, hidden in Zenith Bank Plc and Polaris Bank Limited.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) claimed the funds were kept in accounts in the two commercial banks by the former Zamfara Governor, using his two companies – Kayatawa Nigeria Limited and B.T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.
In a judgment on Tuesday, January 26, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, held that former Governor Yari could not prove how he got funds while or before serving as governor of Zamfara State between May 29, 2011 and May 29 2019.
The judge queried how one of companies’ bank accounts grew from zero to $301,319 at the end of his tenure.
Justice Ojukwu, who said Yari cannot claim the funds are his without providing evidence, rejected his claim that the action of the ICPC was political witch-hunt.
According to the judge; “There is nothing wrong in having 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 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 (ICPC).
“The respondents, having failed to establish the legitimate source of the monies as stated in this case, this 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 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 with in the name of Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari.
“An order of forfeiture of the sum of N11, 159, 674 .17, being proceeds stashed 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 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 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 the name of BT. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited,” the judge said.
Justice Ojukwu added that the funds, “as identified and stated above shall be and are hereby forfeited to the Federal Government.”
The ICPC had accused Yari of illicitly taking the money from Zamfara State’s treasury to the detriment of the people of the state.
Upon an earlier application by the ICPC, Justice Taiwo Taiwo (also of the Federal High Court, Abuja) on August 16, 2019 ordered interim forfeiture of the funds pending when the former Zamfara Governor and his companies could prove ownership.