A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered a final forfeiture of about N284, 306, 294.04 linked to a former governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari, to the Federal Government.
The money was said to have been lodged with Zenith Bank Plc and Polaris Bank.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the FHC who gave the final forfeiture order said that Yari could not show how he made the huge sum of monies while or before serving as governor of the state (between May 29, 2011, and May 29, 2019).
Yari and two companies belonging to him (Kayatawa Nig. Ltd and B.T. Oil and Gas Nig. Ltd) were indicted for alleged fraud and were dragged to the court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other-Related Offences Commission.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who had granted an interim order on those monies on August 16, 2019, told the respondents to exonerate themselves from the ICPC allegations.
The ICPC had accused the former governor of illicitly taking the money from the Zamfara State treasury to the detriment of his state.
The monies deposited at the two banks were $687,874.81 and about N24,289,522.89.
Yari’s lawyer, U. Kelechi, in his argument, claimed that he was rich before becoming the governor of the state.
His counsel also urged the court to set aside the interim order earlier filed against him.
Delivering her judgment, Ojukwu queried how one of Yari’s company’s bank accounts grew from zero to a humongous amount at the end of his tenure.
According to her, Yari cannot claim that the monies were his own without showing evidence.
While dismissing the allegation that it was a political witch-hunt, she ordered that the entire sum be forfeited to the Federal Government.
Justice Ojukwu said, “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 an 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. The respondents having failed to establish the legitimate source of the monies as stated in this case, the honourable court hereby makes an order of final forfeiture of the following:
“An order of final forfeiture of the sum of 12, 912, 848.68 naira being proceeds of some unlawful activity stashed in Zenith Bank Plc…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 in Polaris Bank with account number…in the name of Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari.
“An order of forfeiture of the sum of N11, 159, 674 .17, being proceeds stashed in Zenith Bank Plc…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 Zenith Bank Plc…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 Zenith Bank Plc…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 Zenith Bank Plc… the name of BT. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.
“The orders as identified and stated above shall be and are hereby forfeited to the federal government.”