Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday ordered the forfeiture of N280,555,010.65 traced to Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited. The order was sequel to an ex-parte application brought before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The court ordered temporary forfeiture of the sums of N240,250,904.46 and N40,304,106.19, which the anti-graft agency said it found warehoused in the Nigerian bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited, respectively.
While moving the application, EFCC told the court that the two firms were owned by 31-year-old Obinwanne Okeke, “a strong leader of a cyber crime syndicate that specialised in business e-mail compromise.”
EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the funds were “reasonably suspected” to be proceeds of cyber crime and urged the judge to order its forfeiture to the Federal Government to prevent Okeke from dissipating same.
In an affidavit filed in support of the application, EFCC investigator, Ariyo Muritala, said the commission assigned him and others to investigate a request for information on Okeke and three others by the United States Department of Justice, Office of the legal attache, US Consulate-General.
”I know as a fact and verily believe that our investigation has revealed the following ear-aching and mind-boggling findings:
“That the Obinwanne George Okeke is a strong leader of a cyber crime syndicate that specialised in business e-mail compromise. That the said syndicate has defrauded many innocent and unsuspecting victims.
“That the said Obiwanne George Okeke has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America for cyber crime-related offences.
“That if these funds are not forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, Obiwanne George Okeke and his cronies will dissipate same,” Muritala said in the affidavit.
Oyedepo argued that Justice Aikawa had the power to make the interim forfeiture order by virtue of section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Fraud Offence Act No. 14, 2006. Agreeing with him, the judge granted the application.
Meanwhile, Invictus is currently standing trial in the United States of America over an alleged $11m cyber fraud. He was in 2016 celebrated by Forbes as one of Africa’s “most outstanding 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30.
Federal Bureau of Investigation implicated him as the ringleader of a cyber crime syndicate that had defrauded a number of American citizens to the tune of $11m “through fraudulent wire transfer instructions in a massive, coordinated, business e-mail compromise scheme.”