Monday, July 24, 2017

N13.6 billion Fraud: Court Freezes Former Chief of Army Staff, Minimah’s Accounts

A federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the freezing of the bank accounts linked to a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Kenneth Minimah (retd), over an alleged N13.6 billion diverted from the Nigeria Army.

According to court document obtained by the Punch Newspaper, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, acting on an ex-parte motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), ordered a 90-day freeze on the accounts on June 30, 2017.

The EFCC has accused Minimah and a company, Stoke Synergy Nigeria Limited of diverting money through four companies including Gogori Bureau De Change, My Honey Oil Interbiz Limited, Gogori University Link Limited and M&M Babies Nigeria Limited.

The accounts which are domiciled at United Bank for Africa and Zenith Bank will remain frozen until September 28, 2017 in order “to aid the applicant (EFCC) in being able to conduct a thorough investigation into the financial dealings and transactions,” the judge ruled.

A detective with the EFCC, Osas Azonabor, presented six grounds on which the commission’s lawyer, Mr. Andrew Akoja used to obtain the prayer from the court. One of the grounds was “the laundering of N13,650,795,245.00 from funds of the Nigerian Army to companies: Gogori Bureau De Change, My Honey Oil Interbiz Limited, Gogori University Link Limited and M&M Babies Nigeria Limited.”

According to the court documents others are:

“On the instruction of one Col. Odi, N94,476,500.00 was transferred into Nigerian Army Welfare Ltd./Ojo Land First Bank account number 2027107951, belonging to the Nigerian Army, using the name of Lt.-Gen. K. T. J. Minimah and one Peach Energy Multiservice Limited, out of which the amount, N52,855,000.00, was transferred to Gen K. T. J. Minimah’s USA account number 1003674184. 
”Also from the Nigerian Army Welfare Ltd./Ojo Land account, the sum of N3,717,436,636.00 was transferred to the various accounts belonging to Honey Oil Interbiz Limited with Sterling Bank (account number 28457168), Zenith Bank (account number 1013961012) and Fidelity Bank (account No. 5080105828) on various occasions. 
“Honey Oil Interbiz Limited, in turn, transferred N800m to Stoke Synergy Limited’s Zenith account number 1014195674. The said sums were transferred to accounts No.1 (Minimah’s account) and 2 (Stoke Synergy Nigeria Limited’s account) of the Schedule hereto now being sought to be frozen. 
“There is the need to preserve the money now traced to the accounts in the schedule to this application pending the conclusion of investigation and the determination of criminal charges to be instituted against the suspects.”
Akoja had told the court that the application was meant to stop the Minimah from dissipating the funds which are the subject matter of investigation/prosecution”.

He added;
“The respondents (Minimah and Stoke Synergy Nigeria Limited) whose names appear in the schedule to the present application are being investigated for offences bordering on criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and money laundering of the sum of N13.6bn.”
He argued that the money was “part of the proceeds of alleged criminal activities traced to the suspects’ accounts”.

The judge, however, ruled that he would not allow the freezing of the accounts to “run indefinitely or pending when the applicant (EFCC) is able, at its own time or convenience, to conclude its investigation”.
“To do so is to make expropriatory orders, granted ex parte, to operate as a final order of indefinite duration without affording the respondents, who are affected by the execution of these orders, a hearing,” he said.

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