EFCC secures final forfeiture of BDC dealer’s duplexes over N1.2 billion scam  

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Story Highlights 

  • Federal High Court Abuja orders final forfeiture of properties bought by BDC dealer Jedidiah Ibrahim Ezenwa over N1.2 billion contract scam case by EFCC. 
  • Ezenwa allegedly diverted funds meant for foreign currency exchange to purchase properties, violating Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006. 
  • Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the final forfeiture of duplexes and other properties linked to Ezenwa, citing the criminalization of contract scams under the EFCC Act 2004. 

The Federal High Court Abuja has ordered the final forfeiture of properties purchased by a Bureau De Change(BDC) dealer, Jedidiah Ibrahim Ezenwa over a N1.2 billion contract scam case instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). 

Justice Inyang Ekwo passed the judgment on Monday in SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/1350/2022, between EFCC and Jedidiah Ibrahim Ezenwa, Jedidiah Cement Industry Ltd, Omega Global Resources, Jedidiah Universal Transport Hephz Ltd, Afriinvest Asset Management Ltd, the Guguru Company Ltd and  

Josien Holdings Ltd(1st to seventh respondents). 

The first respondent is said to be a dealer in foreign currency who approached Ibrahim Amusan(Petitioner) for a foreign currency transaction regarding the purchase of United States Dollars. 

 

EFCC’s Case 

The EFCC legal team in their motion on notice stated that they received a petition dated 8th July 2021 from one Ibrahim Amusan for himself and on behalf of Afri Invest Ltd, Joisen Holdings Ltd and Jack Welch Petroleum Services Ltd, alleging the case of conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, fraudulent conversion of funds and money laundering against the respondents. 

It explained that preliminary investigation revealed that the 1st respondent, instead of exchanging the money he was given based on the contractual agreement, used it to purchase two duplex, plots of land among others, in contravention of 17(4) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006. 

“The Petitioners transferred the total sum of N1,904,090,000.00 (One Billion, Nine Hundred and Four Million, Ninety Thousand Naira) to the 2nd Respondent in exchange for an equivalent amount in United States Dollars (hereinafter referred to as USD).  

“Specifically, Joisen Holdings Ltd transferred the sum of N630,000,000 (Six Hundred and Thirty Million Naira) to Hamilton Resources International which in turn transferred the naira equivalent to the 2nd Respondent’s Unity Bank Account 0051411536 on the instruction of the 1st Respondent in exchange for an equivalent amount in USD.  

“Similarly, Afri Invest Ltd, Hakan & Bath Ltd and Jack Welch Petroleum Services Ltd through the Petitioner transferred the sum of N1,274,090,000.00 (One Billion, Two Hundred and Seventy-Four Million Ninety Thousand Naira) to the 2nd Respondent’s Unity Bank account number 005141 1536 in exchange for USD.  

“Instead of providing the Petitioners with the USD equivalent of the said sum as required by the memorandum of understanding signed by the parties, the 1st Respondent diverted the funds to other accounts and purchased properties for his personal use as contained in the schedule to this Application,” the EFCC stated. 

The EFCC drew the court’s attention that on 8th August 2022, it  filed an ex-parte originating summons praying the Court for interim forfeiture of the respondent’s properties because the said properties are suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of crimes.  

The EFCC submitted further that on 7th November 2022, the Court granted the ex-parte Originating Summons and made an interim order forfeiting the properties to the Federal Government of Nigeria and directed the applicant to publish the Order in a National dally giving fourteen (14) days for anyone to show cause why it should not be permanently forfeited. 

The EFCC legal team urged the court to grant its final forfeiture request on the grounds that neither the respondents nor any interested party have actually shown any cause known to law why the court should not make an order for final forfeiture of the properties to the Federal Government.

Respondent’s Reaction 

Jerry Ombugadu Musa, Esq, counsel for the first to fourth respondent told the court that all funds subject of any transaction for which his clients are parties to, are proceeds of legitimate business and contractual agreements.  

He maintained that contrary to EFCC’s claims, his client satisfied all contractual obligations with the petitioner. 

“There is no basis for any form of suspicion by the EFCC that the proceeds of 2nd Respondent are that of a crime,” the lawyer submitted. 

Besides, he added that there were other legitimate funds from other legitimate businesses of his client before the disputed transactions which forms the basis for the instant petition against the respondents.  

 

What the judge said 

Delivering his judgment on Monday, Justice  Ekwo held that by the provision of 6 (b) of the EFCC Act 2004, the law criminalizes contract scams. 

Ekwo agreed with the EFCC that the first respondent scammed the petitioner by diverting the money transferred to him. 

“The activities of the 1st to 4th Respondents in this case, clearly fall into contract scam which the law criminalizes by virtue of 6 (b) of the EFCC Act 2004.  

“Therefore, the 1st to 4th Respondents raising the issue that it is not the business of the applicant to enforce contractual agreements does not avail them here,” Ekwo held. 

The judge subsequently ordered the final forfeiture of the properties linked to the foreign currency dealer. 

“An order is hereby made granting a final forfeiture of the properties subject of an Interim Forfeiture Order of this Court made on 7th November 2022 to the Federal Government of Nigeria (for consequent release/settlement of the victims of the crime on record),” Ekwo said. 

 

The properties forfeited include:  

“ 4 Bedroom Terrace Duplex located at Plot No. 48 Block R, Federal Sites and Services Scheme, Federal Housing Estate (Malaysian Estate), Benin Asaba Expressway Asaba, Oshimill South L.G.A, Delta State. 

“ 4 Bedroom Terrace Duplex located at Plot No. 18A Block 5, Core Area, Federal Sites and Services Scheme, Federal Housing Estate (Malaysian Estate), Benin Asaba Expressway Asaba, Oshimili South L.G.A, Delta State. 

“ Sub-Plot No. TRCD29/Plot No. 4851 located at Citiscape Villa, Guzape District, Cadastral Zone A09, FCT. 

“ 1 Mercedes Benz G-Wagon SUV, Chasis No. WDCYC7AFZAX183776 (BLACK)” 

The EFCC is a federal government agency responsible for tracking and prosecuting financial crimes. 


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