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Nigeria: EFCC Seizes Governor Sylva’s 48 Property in Abuja

governor sylvaMr Sylva is being prosecuted by the EFCC at a Federal High Court in Abuja, for alleged misappropriation of N6.46 billion state funds, when he was governor of the state.

In a statement signed by the Acting Head, Media and Publicity of EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, the commission said an interim forfeiture order on Mr Sylva’s properties was granted by Justice A. R Mohammed on December 21, 2012.

The EFCC listed the assets belonging to the former governor against which the forfeiture order was obtained to include a mansion at 3 River Niger Street, Plot 3192 Cadastral zone AO, Maitama District Abuja; nine units (comprising six one bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments) at 8 Sefadu Street Wuse zone 2, Plot 262 Cadastral Zone AO2, Wuse Abuja; two units duplexes at 5 Oguta Street, plot 906 Cadastral Zone Wuse 11 Abuja.
Others are a duplex at Plot 1271 Nike Street Cadastral zone AO5, Maitama District Abuja; a duplex at Phase 1 Unit No. 1 (villa 1) Palm Springs Gold Estate, Cachez Turkey Projects Limited, Mpape, Abuja; 10 units of one-room apartments at 8 Mistrata Street plot 232 Cadastral zone Wuse 11 Abuja; five units duplexes at Plot No 1070 Dakibiyu District Cadastral zone B10, Abuja; 16 units service apartments at Plot 1181 Thaba Tseka Crescent, Off IBB Way, Wuse 11, Abuja and three units of three bedroom flats at No. 1 Mubi Close, Plot 766. Cadastral Zone A01, Garki, Abuja.

Another order

Last week, another High Court in Abuja presided by Justice M.M. Kolo had ordered the EFCC not to tamper with Mr Sylva’s property.
Justice Kolo gave the order on December 27, 2012 while ruling on a motion filed by the former governor, who had on December 24, 2012 filed a suit at the court for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights.

Mr Sylva had asked the court for “an interim order of court for the service of the originating process on the respondent to serve as a stay of all actions in respect of the properties – Plot No 262, Cadastral Zone A02, Wuse 1, District, Abuja, plot 3192, located within Cadastral zone A06 Maitama District, Abuja, plot 232, Cadastral Zone A07, (No. 8 Mistrata Street; Wuse II, Abuja) – by the respondents, their agents, privies, representative or any other person deriving his/her authority from them; either by sealing off, confiscating, ejecting any person from the properties, trespassing into the properties or doing any other thing how ever so described relating to the said properties pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”

In an affidavit in support of his application, Mr Sylva said the houses were acquired before his election as governor of Bayelsa State.
He described as unconstitutional, oppressive, null and void EFCC’s attempt to seal or seize property duly declared in his Assets Declaration Form at the assumption of office in 2007.

Charges against Sylva

The former Bayelsa State governor was first arraigned on June 5, 2012 on a six count of money laundering and misappropriation of fund belonging to the state he governed.

Part of the charge reads: “That you, Timpre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, sometime between October, 2009 and February, 2010, at various places in Nigeria, including Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court did conspire to commit a crime to wit: conversion of properties and resources amounting to N2,000,000,000.00 belonging to Bayelsa State Government and derived from an illegal act, with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the said amount and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act), 2004 and punishable under Section 14(1) of the same Act.

“That you, Timpre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, on or about the 22nd of January, 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted the sum of N380,000,000.00 property of the Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one Habibu Sani Maigidia, a Bureau De Change Operator with Account No. 221433478108, in Fin Bank, Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act.”

“That you, Timpre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, on or about the February 5, 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted the sum of N50,000,000.00, property of the Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one Enson Benmer Limited with Account No. 6152030001946, in First Bank, Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act.”

The substantive suit is adjourned to January 10, 2013.

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