By Abdulaziz Salisu
Justice Y. Halilu of the FCT High Court, sitting in Jabi, Abuja on Monday, February 27, 2017 ordered the forfeiture of a property belonging to Moroophat Obanikoro, the wife of a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, pending the outcome of corruption investigations into her husband and children.
The court also rejected a prayer by Obanikoro’s wife asking the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to pay her the sum of N200million for violating her fundamental rights.
As part of investigations into the $2.1bn arms scam involving the Office of the National Security Adviser, the EFCC had traced the transfer of about N4.7bn to the Diamond Bank account of Sylvan McNamara, a company allegedly owned by Obanikoro’s two sons – Gbolahan and Babajide.
Out of the N4.7bn, Mr Obanikoro allegedly gave N3.880bn to Ekiti governor, Ayodele Fayose, and a senator, Iyiola Omisore, in July 2014, when they were the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidates in Ekiti and Osun states respectively.
The EFCC subsequently seized a house in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State allegedly belonging to Obanikoro’s sons – Gbolahan and Babajide – and a property located at 44, Mamman Kotangora Crescent, Katampke Extension, Abuja, belonging to Obanikoro’s wife.
However, the wife argued that she bought the property over seven years before the alleged arms scam took place.
She said the EFCC had no right to punish her for any crime allegedly committed by her husband and urged the court to award her N200million as cost against EFCC.
Her prayers: “an order setting aside the sealing of the property; an order directing the EFCC to tender an unreserved public apology for the unlawful and unconditional invasion of the aforesaid property and the sum of N200,000,000 as general damages for the unlawful and unconstitutional invasion of the property”.
In a counter affidavit, deposed to by one Jackson Edet, the EFCC claimed that Mr Obanikoro’s wife could not claim to be ignorant of her husband’s alleged crime.
The commission said Moroophat’s husband and her sons collected over N600million from the ONSA for a non-existent contract.
The EFCC argued that investigation had shown that, “the property belongs to Musiliu Obanikoro and he paid for the statutory charges for the property.”
The Commission added, “That a lawyer, Tejumola Adeboye, who volunteered a statement to the EFCC, stated that he managed the said property and remits the rent to MON Integrated Services (a company allegedly owned by Obanikoro, which is also under probe).”
In his ruling, the Justice Halilu said he could not stop the EFCC from doing its work, adding that all Nigerians must unite in the fight against corruption.
“I shall refuse the application because it is most unmeritorious and specially packaged to deceive this court,” the judge ruled.