A contractor to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Francis Momoh, who was accused of paying multiple kickbacks to former Executive Director of Projects of the commission, Tuoyo Omatsuli yesterday urged a Federal High Court in Lagos to lift the temporary order of forfeiture placed on two properties located in the Lekki area of the state.
Momoh, who is claiming ownership of the contentious property, said it does not belong to Omatsuli as claimed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Chuka Obiozor had on May 17, 2018, after entertaining an ex parte application filed by the EFCC, ordered the temporary forfeiture of four landed properties in Lekki allegedly belonging to Omatsuli. Justice Obizor had also ordered interested parties to show cause as to why the properties should not be permanently forfeited.
The anti-graft agency had alleged that the properties, valued at N846.03million, was reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.
The commission had accused Omatsuli of receiving kickbacks from a contractor to the NDDC on no fewer than 11 occasions. But Momoh, in an application filed through his lawyer, Norrison Quakers (SAN), sought an order discharging the interim order of forfeiture on two of the properties.
He has urged the court for an order directing the EFCC to remove any restrictions imposed on the properties, as well as an order restraining the commission from dealing in the properties in any manner. Momoh also prayed for an order for EFCC to render account of the rents and any monies collected from the time the order of forfeiture was granted until it is discharged.
Momoh claimed the properties belong to him and Don Parker Properties Ltd, where he is a director, and that they were lawfully and legitimately acquired.
“There is no reasonable basis to believe them to be proceeds of unlawful activity.
“The order attaching the properties was obtained in breach of the interested parties’ fundamental right to fair hearing guaranteed under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
EFCC lawyer, Ekene Iheanacho said he needed time to respond to the applications filed by all the interested parties as he was just served with a copy of the application.