Money Laundering: Court Orders Congolese Bizman To Forfeit $700,000 To Nigeria
London, Dec. 8, 2017 (AltAfrika)-A Congolese businessman has been ordered by a Nigeria court to forfeit the sum of $700,000 to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Justice Rilwan M. Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria made the order.
Onyeka who was arrested on February 23, 2014 with the sum of $1, 909,140 at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport by men of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, was ordered to forfeit $700,000 out of $1,909,140 he was arrested with.
Justice Aikawa had, on October 25, 2017, ordered Onyeka’s arrest for failing to appear to answer to a two-count charge of money laundering preferred against him by the EFCC.
Count one of the charges against the bussinessman reads: “That you, Ani Paulinus Onyeka, on or before February 10, 2014, at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court, while transporting in cash the sum of $1, 909,140, from Republic of Congo to Nigeria, failed to declare the said sum of $1.909, 140, to Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), as required under Section 12 of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act Cap. F34, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and Section 2(5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 2(5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, as amended in 2012.
Count two reads: “That you, Ani Paulinus Onyeka, on or before February 10, 2014, at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, transported the cash sum of $1, 909,140, from Republic of Congo to Nigeria, with intent to carry out specified unlawful activity to wit: avoiding lawful transaction under the law through financial institution in respect of the sum of N1, 909,140 and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 4(5) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.”
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, Onyeka admitted to have committed the offence.
In his address, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the defendant disclosed in his statement that the money was given to him by one Ikechukwu Frank for one Jude Okoye.
Oyedepo further told the court that Onyeka was arrested by men of the NCS while attempting to deliver the money without going through any financial institution.
The EFCC counsel, who also showed the court a copy of a letter from the Central Bank of Nigeria,CBN, showing that the money is in its custody, further told the court that the Commission had signed a plea bargain agreement dated December 4, 2017, with the accused person.
He, therefore, urged the court to convict the defendant in view of his plea.
Consequently, Justice Aikawa ordered that the businessman should forfeit the sum of $700, 000 to the Federal Government out of the seized money.
Onyeka was given an option of $50, 000 fine, while he was ordered to forfeit the sum of $650, 000 to the Federal Government.
The judge further held that the money to be paid from the recovered $1, 909,140 should be credited to the Consolidated Funds of the federation.
“The remaining sum of $1, 209, 140 should be released to the defendant through a designated financial institution in strict compliance with the provisions of Section 1 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, as amended.
“The defendant shall, within seven days after the payment of the fine imposed by the court, enter into a bond with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) never to be involved in economic and financial crimes within and outside the shores of Nigeria,” the judge further said.