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How EFCC secured final forfeiture of private varsity to FG

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the final forfeiture of a private university, NOK University, Kaduna State, including all its assets, to the Federal Government.

Justice Joyce Abdulmalik passed the judgment on Friday in a motion on notice filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Anthony Hassan and KYC Inter-Project Limited.

The EFCC legal team, led by Ekele Iheanacho, maintained that the court should give a final order forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the properties of the institution that were found by the Commission to be reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

In its motion on notice marked FHC/ABJ/CV/688/2022, the anti-graft agency contended that Anthony Hassan failed to prove that he did not acquire the university and its assets with proceeds of crime.

Iheanacho argued that the university was incorporated on October 6, 2021, with the wife and children of the first respondent as the directors and guarantors of the university but without the first respondent’s name.

He added that apart from the funds deposited to secure the university’s bank guarantee, the first respondent (Hassan) funded the acquisition of the land on which the university was built, as well as the buildings and structures on it.

He stressed that though the first respondent was a civil servant who rose through the ranks to become a director in the Civil Service of the Federation, he was acquiring properties using the names of his wife and son as shareholders with a view to shielding himself from being tracked.

“This Honourable Court has the statutory powers under the provision of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, to grant the reliefs being sought.

“The Honourable Court made an interim order forfeiting the properties to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“The order of the Honourable Court has been published in a national daily, namely LEADERSHIP Newspaper of 17th June 2022.

“No sufficient cause has been shown why the properties under the interim forfeiture should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he said.

But a lawyer, Barrister Victor Olisah, approached the court, insisting that he owned six plots of land on which one of the disputed properties was erected.

In her judgement on Friday, Justice Abdulmalik dismissed the lawyer’s claims on some plots of land, saying he failed to prove his ownership of the land with credible evidence.

Justice Abdulmalik also dismissed the claim by the legal team of Hassan and his company, KYC Inter-Project Limited, which insisted that the school was built with the funds of investors.

The judge agreed with the EFCC that the defendant conferred undue advantage on himself while serving as a civil servant.

Subsequently, the court ordered the final forfeiture of the university, including all its assets, ranging from the Senate Building to the Faculty Building.

The court also ordered the forfeiture of Gwasmyen Water Factory, Gwasmyen International Hotel and Gwasmyen Event Center, which were all traced to Hassan.

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