By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

A Federal High Court, Abuja has granted the request by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for an interim forfeiture order on the $376, 120 (estimated at about N136,155,440) allegedly seized from Major General Hakeem Oladapo Otiki.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu made the order for interim forfeiture of the money ruling on Wednesday, on an ex-parte motion, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1380/20 filed by the EFCC and argued by its lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho.

The judge equally ordered the EFCC to publish the interim forfeiture order in a national daily to enable “persons in whose possession the funds sought to be forfeited are found or anyone who is interested in the funds sought to be forfeited, to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture of the funds should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

Justice Ojukwu adjourned till February 24, 2020.

The EFCC stated that Otiki, who is currently standing trial before the Army Court Marshall, detailed some soldiers, sometimes last year, to provide VIP escort from Sokoto to Kaduna for one Alhaji Ado Aliyu, alongside the sum of N400 million, but fled and escaped with the money.

An investigator with the EFCC, Alvan Gurumnaan, stated, in a supporting affidavit, that upon receipt of the intelligence, his team carried out several investigation activities “which include: making inquiries from the office of the Chief of Army Staff, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), commercial banks, Corporate Affairs Commission, Code of Conduct Bureau, Salaries and Wages Commission, interviewing witnesses and suspects with a view to unravel the fraud, tracing the movements of funds suspected to be proceeds of illegal activities, source of the funds, the beneficiaries, amongst others.

The investigation so far reveals the following:

“That Major General Otiki was a serving military officer and the immediate-past General Officer Commanding Division of the Nigerian Army, Sokoto. He was the chief accounting officer of the division.

“That one Alhaji Ado, together with his son, Adamu Aliyu, is into the business of Bureau De Change (BDC). They are business associates of Major General Otiki as they assisted him (Otiki) in operating his BDC business known as Karama BDC.

“That Major General Otiki whilst still in public service acquired Karama BDC Nigeria Ltd. in 2014. Out of the company’s 35, 000, 000 share capital, he had 22, 000, 000 shares.

“Similarly, Maj. General Otiki is also the highest shareholder in Danest Hotel and Suites Nigeria Limited and Daniest Nigeria Ltd.

“The office addresses of the BDC and hotel are respectively in Lagos and Ibadan,” he said.

Gurumnaan said that Otiki was the sole signatory of the bank accounts of the above-mentioned three companies in Jaiz Bank, UBA Plc, FCMB Plc and Access Bank Plc.

The EFCC official stated that despite actively running and managing the businesses as well as being the sole signatory to the bank accounts of the companies, Otiki denied having any enterprise or shares in any company in Nigeria while completing his assets declaration form in 2016.

“That on March 9, 2019, being the day for the governorship election in Sokoto State, Major General Otiki invited Alhaji Ado to Sokoto and sold the sum of N100, 000, 000. 00 in cash to the said Alhaji Ado in exchange for the equivalent sum of USD277, 700 (at the agreed exchange rate). The said USD277, 700 was paid in cash to Major General Otiki.

“To facilitate the above unofficial transaction, Major General Otiki provided detailed military security escort for Alhaji Ado from Kaduna to Sokoto and back to Kaduna.

“That he Nigerian Army Headquarters specifically released special intervention funds to the 8 Division of the Nigerian Army headed by Major General Otiki for the purpose of improving on the infrastructure within the said 8 Division,” he said.

Gurumnaan gave details of the funds released as N150 million into 8 Division’s CBN account number: 0150459961048 on March 24, 2019; N50 million into 8 Division’s Fidelity Bank number: 5030063086 on June 18, 2019 and N160 million into 8 Division’s CBN account number: 0150459961048 on July 5, 2019.