A former Director of Navy Accounts, Rear Admiral Tahir Yusuf, has permanently forfeited about N500 million to the Federal Government.
Rear Admiral Yusuf, who was second-in-command to the Chief of Account and Budget, Naval Headquarters (NHQ), according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), held the cash in seven accounts with two banks.
Five of the accounts, the EFCC said in court documents, were kept in the name of a company – Bitmas Enterprises – while the other two accounts were held in Yusuf’s name in another bank.
The total amount Yusuf forfeited to the Federal Government as a result of an order of permanent forfeiture issued on February 20, 2020 by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, is N392,695,857.87; $91,955.38; £15,050.
Justice Ojukwu made the order of permanent forfeiture while ruling on an application to that effect filed by the EFCC.
The court disregarded claim by Yusuf, who was saddled with verifying and authenticating of documents before payments and keep custody of Nigeria Navy balance, that he made the money through legitimate means.
The court had, on October 26, 2018, in a ruling on an application by the EFCC, granted an order for interim forfeiture of the money and ordered the anti-graft agency to publish the order in a national daily for any interested party to claim the money.
It was in reaction to the advertisement that Yusuf filed a counter-affidavit, claiming ownership of the money and arguing that the funds were from legitimate sources.
In response, the EFCC faulted Yusuf’s claim and disclosed that the ex-Naval chief was investigated with two others – Rear Admiral Babajide Oguntola and Commander Bello Mohammed – “all of the Nigerian Navy in an alleged case of conspiracy, abuse of office and money laundering”.
The EFCC said, in the course of investigation, it found the seven accounts (corporate and personal) linked to Yusuf, with the following details: In Zenith Bank accounts 1011701670 (N32,268,758.50); 9000617386 (N320,132,530.57); 1011904172 (N2,414,034.39); 5360132431 ($34,875.00); 5060017083 (£15,050.00) – all held in the name of Bitmas Enterprises.
Two other accounts – 2120012772 ($57,080.38) and 1060100885 (N2,390,987.69) – were held in Skye Bank in Yusuf’s name.
Court documents also revealed that Yusuf had made a proposal for plea bargain to the EFCC, in which he allegedly volunteered to forfeit N200 million, which the EFCC rejected.