The Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday ordered the interim forfeiture of houses allegedly owned by a former Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, The Nation reports.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said they are Plots 1032 and 1033, Cadastral Zone AO3, Takum Close, Off Michika Street, Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki Abuja.
Justice Emeka Nweti gave the order in a ruling on a motion ex-parte filed EFCC and in which it claimed that the houses were acquired through proceeds of crime.
He ordered the EFCC to publish the order in the national dailies to allow anyone with interest in the property to show cause within 14 days why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Justice Nweti adjourned till April 13 for consideration of the motion for final forfeiture of the properties.
The EFCC further claimed that the houses were reasonably suspected to be acquired with proceeds from illegality and corruption.
It alleged that the properties were developed with funds from the coffers of the Imo State Government in 2018 when Okorocha was governor.
The EFCC said that two firms in which Okorocha had interest, Abtisal Global Ltd and Archivisual Solution Ltd, received N222, 000,000 from the state treasury to develop the properties.
But, a member of Okorocha’s legal team, Okey Anyikwa, said the Senator was a victim of a political witch-hunt.
He said the properties were acquired in 2007 before Okorocha became governor in 2011 by Etha Venture.
He argued that the plot by the EFCC to seize properties worth over N15 billion because of N220 million claimed to have been taken from Imo State treasury to renovate the houses is ridiculous.
“We learnt that the EFCC went to confiscate a property belonging to Okorocha after they got an interim forfeiture order.
“Our investigation showed that the property was acquired by a company, Etcha Venture, a limited liability company in 2007.
“So, it cannot be said that the property belongs to Okorocha entirely.
“EFCC is claiming that N220 million was used to renovate the building, but I am aware that the property was put to use as a hotel that has been funding the Rochas Foundation Colleges for over 20 years.
“In as much as the matter is sub-judice, common logic shows that it is nothing but the political vendetta against the person of Okorocha.”