Lagos court orders forfeiture of Obinwanne Okeke’s N280m

Lagos court orders forfeiture of Obinwanne Okeke’s N280m

The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the forfeiture of N280,555,010.65 warehoused in the bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invi

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The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the forfeiture of N280,555,010.65 warehoused in the bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission told the court that the two firms were owned by Obinwanne Okeke, a strong leader of a cybercrime syndicate that specialised in business e-mail compromise.

Okeke, popularly known as Invictus, is currently standing trial in the United States of America over an alleged $11m cyber fraud. The 31-year-old Nigerian was, in 2016, celebrated by Forbes as one of Africa’s most outstanding 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30. He was described by the magazine as proof that there is hope for Africa.

Obi was, however, arrested last August by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, implicated as the ringleader of a cybercrime syndicate that had defrauded a number of American citizens to the tune of $11m through fraudulent wire transfer instructions in a massive, coordinated, business e-mail compromise scheme.

Following an ex parte application by the EFCC on Monday, Justice Rilwan Aikawa made an order for the temporary forfeiture of the sums of N240,250,904.46 and N40,304,106.19, which the anti-graft agency said it found warehoused in the Nigerian bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited, respectively.

EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the funds were “reasonably suspected” to be proceeds of cybercrime and urged the judge to order its forfeiture to the Federal Government to prevent Okeke from dissipating same.

In an affidavit filed in support of the application, EFCC investigator, Ariyo Muritala, said the Commission assigned him and others to investigate a request for information on Okeke and three others by the United States Department of Justice, Office of the Legal Attache, US Consulate-General.

Oyedepo argued that Justice Aikawa had the power to make the interim forfeiture order by virtue of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Fraud Offence Act No. 14, 2006. The judge agreed with him and ordered the temporary forfeiture of the funds.