The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the nod to seize a property in Abuja that belongs to a former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha.
Justice Emeka Nwite ordered the interim forfeiture of the property situated at Plot 1032 & 1033 Cadastral Zone AO3, Takum Close, off Michika Street, Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki Abuja, after he heard an ex-parte application the anti-graft agency brought before the court.
EFCC told the court that it reasonably suspected that the property was part of proceeds of unlawful activities of the erstwhile governor who is currently representing Imo West in the Senate.
It anchored the ex-parte application on section 44(2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 2006.
The Commission said its investigation revealed that sometime in 2018, Abtisal Global Ltd and Archivisual Solution Ltd, companies in which Okorocha is believed to have interest, received N222 million from the Imo State Government Treasury to develop and improve on the said property.
Meanwhile, in his ruling, Justice Nwite, ordered that the interim forfeiture order should be published in the national dailies, alerting anyone with interest in the property to show cause why it should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
He, thereafter, adjourned the matter till April 13 to hear the motion for final forfeiture of the property.
The high court had, on Wednesday, fixed March 28 for the EFCC to arraign the former governor on a 17-count charge.
Okorocha, who piloted affairs of Imo state from 2011 to 2019, was charged before the court following his alleged complicity in a N2.9 billion fraud.
He was charged alongside a chieftain of the All Progressive, APC, Anyim Nyerere Chinenye, and five companies — Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited.
EFCC alleged that the defendants conspired and diverted public funds into private accounts for their personal use.
According to the anti-graft agency, the defendants committed the alleged offence between October 2014 and February 2016.
It alleged that the defendants sequentially siphoned funds from the Imo State Government House account and Imo State Joint Local Government Project account, and diverted same into accounts of private firms.
The EFCC filed the charge before the court on a day Okorocha declared his intention to contest for presidency in the 2023 general elections.