S’Court reserves judgment on N3.5bn Paris Club fraud

Adebari Oguntoye
Adebari Oguntoye
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has reserved judgment in an appeal on the final forfeiture of the sum of N1.2bn, brought before it by Melrose General Services Limited, until June 7, 2024.

The appellant is challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal in May 2019, ordering the forfeiture of the sum, as proceeds of unlawful activity in the Paris Club fund, involving Melrose General Services Limited.

This was made known in a statement by the EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, on Thursday.

Counsel for the appellant, Kehinde Ogunwumiji, while informing the apex court of a motion seeking the setting aside of the judgment of the Court of Appeal, noted that the money involved in the forfeiture suit was not the proceed of any unlawful activity, but payment for a contractual and consultancy agreement

Counsel for the EFCC, however, informed the court of his counter-affidavit dated March 11, 2024, praying the court to adopt his brief of argument and dismiss the appeal of the appellant.

The statement reads in part “My Lords, we seek the leave of your noble Lordships to undertake a brief overview of the concept of forfeiture granted by the two courts below in a bid to drive home the 1st respondent`s case. There are generally two types of forfeitures used to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crimes. They share the same objective, namely the forfeiture of the state of the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime. Both share common two-fold rationales.”

Arguing further, he stressed that, “Recall that appellant filed his notice of appeal against the well-considered judgment of the Federal High Court which was equally dismissed by the Court of Appeal on May 31, 2019, having found that the appellant failed to show that the said funds are not proceeds of crime.

“Further to the background of the matter, the EFCC carried out investigations that revealed among others, that the sum of N3.5bn was fraudulently paid to the appellant to carry out a consultancy job for the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, under the guise that the appellant carried out a consultancy job for the NGF, entitling it to the money when it did not do any such work. The appellant made several withdrawals within a short time, leaving N1,222,384,857.84 before the EFCC intervened.

“Further investigation led to the recovery of an additional sum of N220m which the appellant had paid to WASP Networks Ltd. and Thebe Wellness Services.”.

After listening to all the submissions, the five-man panel of the apex court reserved judgment on the matter till June 7, 2024.

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