Lagos - Telecoms giant, MTN Communication has launched a fresh attempt to persuade Justice Abdulaziz Anka of the Federal High Court in Lagos to reverse his ruling that it should temporarily forfeit N8 billion to the Federal Government.
The funds, located in account number 0012005379 at ECOBANK and number 1013607079 at SKYE Bank are suspected to be the proceeds of unlawful activity.
Anka had in an earlier ruling approved the government’s seizure of the accounts, which contains billions of naira.
Nobody has so far filed court papers to claim ownership of the funds.
An Abuja based lawyer, John Samuel Opeyemi, had filed a lawsuit at a Federal High Court in Lagos, on behalf of the Federal Government, Attorney General of the Federation and an asset recovery agent of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Algaita Group Nigeria Limited, seeking the forfeiture order.
In an affidavit, the Managing Director of Algaita Group Limited, Abdullahi Mohammed Maiturare, stated that the funds in the two banks represented unclaimed properties or proceeds of unlawful activity, specifically stealing, diversion and money laundering, by some public officials and their cohorts in the private sector.
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Justice Anka in its ruling granted an order of interim forfeiture to the Federal Government, empowering the government to temporarily take possession of the funds in the two banks’ accounts.
He had also ordered that a notice be published in two national daily newspapers inviting anybody with an interest in the frozen funds to come forward within 14 days to show why the court should not issue a final forfeiture order in favor of the Federal Government.
The judge directed the respective branch managers of the respondent banks to immediately stop all outward payments from the subject accounts and submit to the court the respective statements of account with certificates of authentication and other relevant documents as at the date and time of service of the court order on them.
Following the judgment, MTN Communications Limited filed an application urging the court to discharge and set aside the orders made pertaining to the firm’s account at Ecobank Limited.
The company through its lawyer , Ibukunoluwa Owa, stated that the Federal Government and its agents did not comply with the order of the court calling for the publication of the order.
Owa declared that MTN opened the contentious account at Ecobank on October 9, 2006.
She stated that the firm had operated the account since it was first opened in accordance with banking practices applicable to current accounts held by corporate bodies in Nigeria.
She added that the funds in the two banks were not the proceeds of any unlawful activity.
Owa urged the court to discharge the order of interim forfeiture to the Federal Government.
No date has been fixed for a final ruling.
- News 24