Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court Abuja on Thursday gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the go-ahead to freeze two bank accounts linked to a 26-year-old Nigerian schooling abroad.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo who granted the request as a vacation judge however reduced the 60 days period asked by the EFCC to 40 days on the grounds that it was too long.
Justice Taiwo ordered that the two bank accounts be frozen for 40 days pending the conclusion of the commission’s investigation adding that the owner of the accounts must be put on notice through his banks on the freezing order within 14 days.
He also held that the commission could seek for extension of the days if it was yet to conclude its investigation based on the order of the court.
The order was sequel to an exparte motion moved by counsel for the Commission, Richard Dauda.
In the said motion marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/921/2019, the commission is investigating a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) received from the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) against the suspect, Mr Damilare Oluyemi.
He told the court that “The investigation revealed that the suspect in the case under investigation is a student who was involved in suspicious transactions between May 11,2018 and June 6, 2018 amounting to 133, 955. 00 dollars and 40, 000 pounds,” he said
He said investigation further revealed that the suspect had ”substantial amount of funds in his Access Bank account number: 0790473099 and the Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) account number: 9024884541590 which have not been touched.”
”A copy of the statements of Access Bank and GTB of the suspect is attached and marked as Exhibit EFCC 1 and EFCC 2 respectively,” he said.
Dauda told the court that all effort made to invite the major depositor, Lucy Otubo, has proved abortive.
He said available intelligence report suggested that Otubo had relocated to Turkey and frequently carried out transactions on these accounts.
The counsel said the the commission had been making efforts to ensure that the fleeing suspect was tracked and possibly deported back to Nigeria to aid further investigation but efforts so far made had not yielded positive results.
He submitted that it had become imperative for the EFCC to apply for a freezing order and an order of interim forfeiture in order yo prevent the suspect from making withdrawals from the listed accounts.
Dauda informed the court that investigation had not been concluded due to the absence of the principal suspect directly linked to the suspicious transactions who was still at large.
”We seek an order of this Honourable court granting the chairman of the commission or any officer authorise by him power to instruct a bank examiner to issue an order as specified in Form B of the schedule to the EFCC Act 2004 to bank managers of banks or any person having accounts shown hereunder for six months pending the completion of investigation and possible arraignment,” he said.
Meantime, the case has been adjourned till Oct. 4 for further hearing.