The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the temporary forfeiture of Victoria East Park Hotel and Suites, in the town of Ikorodu, Lagos, over an alleged fraud of N53.7m.
Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to take over the hotel for 21 days to enable it to conclude its investigation of the alleged fraud.
The anti-corruption agency had, in an ex parte application, told the court that it believed the hotel was acquired with proceeds of fraud by one Ebiesuwa Fredrick, who is thought to be the ringleader of a syndicate of fraudsters based in Ibadan and with accomplices in Lagos.
EFCC counsel Ayanfeoluwa Ogunsina told Justice Obiozor the commission sought to take over the hotel, located on Igbogbo-Mayegun Road, so as to prevent the fraudsters from disposing of it during its investigation, thereby "defeating the end of justice."
Ogunsina said the EFCC was investigating Fredrick and members of his fraud syndicate, who were still at large, based on a petition it received from one Dunni Olagbegi, who claimed to have been duped of about N53.7m by the suspects.
An investigating officer with the EFCC, Chris Odofin, deposed to an affidavit filed in support of the ex parte application. In it, he described the methods they used as follows: "The antics of these fraudsters include luring people into their criminal den where they present one of them as a pastor, hypnotize their victim, make the victim take an oath never to reveal what they say or do and then use all sorts of deceitful methods to collect money from the victim.”
He said preliminary investigations revealed that Fredrick is a member of the syndicate of fraudsters that specialize in duping unsuspecting members of the society and have duped several people by this means, and that they are still on the prowl, seeking more victims.
He said the respondent and some members of his syndicate “launder the proceeds of their criminal activities through acquisition of landed properties within and outside Ibadan with a view to legitimizing and integrating their ill-gotten wealth into the mainstream economy, despite the fact that they have no legitimate sources of income."
Justice Obiozor, in a short ruling, granted the EFCC application, empowering the anti-graft agency to take over Victoria East Park Hotel and Suites for 21 days.
The judge also directed the anti-graft agency to paste the court order in a conspicuous place on the premises of the hotel and adjourned further proceedings in the case till August 9, 2017.