Nigerians have been wondering why the traditional media activated it’s silent mode over the recent final forfeiture order handed on Heritage Bank by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos of a total unclaimed sum of #157bn recently.
Suspicions are rife that the ‘strongman’ behind the fraud who sources described as a sitting Senator and a major participant in the “death” of the Society General and Trade Banks may have through his agents bought off the story from the traditional media space to fend off possible embarrassments to him considering his position as a lawmaker who intends to return to the Senate in next year’s election.
The Justice Obiozor – led Federal High Court had ordered the final forfeiture of the sums of: #1,250,000,000; $327,132.35; €167.85 and €157.91 recovered by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to the FG.
Justice Obiozor gave the order on Tuesday – October 13, 2018 following a suit filed by the anti – graft agency against Heritage Bank Plc and Secure Electronics Technology Ltd. EFCC argued that the funds were suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
Counsel to the EFCC, Iheanacho Ekene, had submitted that the persons in whose possession the funds were found are not laying claims to them and have surrendered them for forfeiture.
Prior to the final forfeiture order, the court had in August this year made a temporary forfeiture of the funds. Justice Obizor told the EFCC to publish the interim order in the newspapers for anyone interested in the money to show up in court prove why the funds should not permanently forfeited to the FG.
On Tuesday, the counsel to the EFCC told the court that the oder of publication had been complied with adding that no one had come up to claim the monies. He urged the court to order permanent forfeiture to the FG.
As there was no opposing application, Justice Obiozor ordered the permanent forfeiture of #1.2bn; $327,132.35; €167.85 and €157.90 to the FG.
This development industry experts say has cast a huge blight on the integrity of the Heritage Bank and it speaks volume of the damaged integrity of the managers of the bank as a purveyor of stolen funds in the country noting that the Godwin Emefiele-led Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, may not hesitate to hammer the bank if found to have breached operational codes.
The funds according to a source in Heritage Bank were monies brought by the Senator who is also a major stakeholder of the bank for safe keeping in the run up to the 2019 general elections. “This man – the senator who allegedly was complicit in the bloody Offa robbery that claimed over 35 persons including a heavily pregnant woman was actually building a war chest for his ill fated presidential bid as he failed to clinch his party’s ticket but later opted for return to the Senate.”