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Court Knocks Zenith & Polaris Banks

- Orders ex Zamfara Governor Yari to forfeit N700m

The Federal High Court, Abuja, has ordered the final forfeiture of funds belonging to a former governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari, domiciled in Zenith and Polaris Banks.

He slammed the banks for not carrying out due diligence asking how an account can start from zero balance to $301,319.

While $56, 056.75 was lodged in Polaris Bank account, the sums of N12.9 million, N11.2 million, $301, 319.99; N217, 388.04 and $311, 872.15 were kept in different Zenith Bank accounts in the name of Mr Yari and his companies, the News Agency of Nigeria reported

The judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu, held that the former governor had not shown good cause why the order sought by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) should not be carried out.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) claimed the funds were kept in accounts in the two commercial banks by Yari, using his two companies – Kayatawa Nigeria Limited and B.T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, in a judgment on Tuesday, held that Yari could not prove how he got funds while or before serving as governor of Zamfara State between May 29, 2011, and May 29, 2019.

The judge, who said Yari cannot claim the funds are his without providing evidence, rejected his claim that the action of the ICPC was a political witch-hunt.

“There is nothing wrong in having a huge sum of monies in one’s account, but what the law requires is that such proceeds should emanate from legitimate sources or businesses.

“The respondents, who have been given the opportunity to tell their story, have failed to provide evidence for such legitimate income.

“The respondents have not countered the case and facts presented by the applicants (ICPC).

“The respondents, having failed to establish the legitimate source of the monies as stated in this case, this honorable court hereby makes an order of final forfeiture of the following:

“An order of final forfeiture of the sum of N12,912,848.68 being proceeds of some unlawful activity stashed in the name of Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari.

“An order of final forfeiture of the sum of $57,056.75 being proceeds of some unlawful activity stashed within the name of Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari.

“An order of forfeiture of the sum of N11, 159, 674 .17, being proceeds stashed in the name of Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.

“An order of final forfeiture of the sum of $319, 000.91 being proceed of some unlawful activity stashed in the name of Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.

“An order of final forfeiture of the sum of N217, 000.04 being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in the name of B.T Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.

“An order of final forfeiture of the sum of $311, 817.15 being proceeds of some unlawful activity stashed in the name of BT. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited,” the judge said.

Justice Ojukwu added that the funds, “as identified and stated above shall be and are hereby forfeited to the Federal Government.”

The ICPC had instituted a suit, praying the court for the former governor to show cause why the money under investigation should not be forfeited to the federal government.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while Mr Yari was the first respondent in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/916/2019, his two companies; Kayatawa Nigeria Ltd and B. T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Ltd were second and third respondents respectively.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo had, on August 16, 2019, granted the order for interim forfeiture of the assets in an exparte motion brought by the commission’s lawyer, Osuobeni Akponimisingha.

Justice Taiwo also ordered the ICPC to publish same in national dailies for any interested party to show cause while the money should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.

The anti-graft agency had alleged that the funds were proceeds of unlawful activity.

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