Wednesday, 22 May 2013
$15m Ibori Bribe: Court Dismisses Application By New Claimant
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday November 23, 2012 dismissed the application brought by Mr. Olalekan Bayode seeking to be admitted as a party in the $15 million Ibori bribe forfeiture matter.
Kolawole while striking out the application noted that it was completely at variance with the interim order of court inviting interested parties to show cause why the money should not be forfeited to the federal government.
“When I read the affidavit, I asked myself whether they really heard of the opportunity given through the publication of the interim order. While I readily overlook the misconduct of the applicant, I cannot understand the conduct his counsel.”
The judge frowned at Barrister Femi Aina’s conduct which he said leaves much to be desired. “When the order I made is juxtaposed with the application brought by the intervener’s counsel, which is professionally hollow, I consider this as a disregard to court process. Right of access to court must be made judiciously and not frivolously,” he warned.
With the dismissal of the application, the coast is clear for the court to consider the claim of the Delta State government regarding ownership of the money.
Justice Kolawole had on July 24, 2012 granted an interim order of forfeiture of an unclaimed $15m Ibori bribe to the federal government following an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. In granting the order, the judge upheld the federal government’s claim that the money “If left untouched and unspent in the state it was kept in the strong room ( of the CBN) since April 2007, may eventually be destroyed, defaced, mutilated and become useless.”
Justice Kolawole also ordered that the interim order should be published in national daily “for anyone who is interested in the property to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
That publication triggered a rush of claimants.
The case had been adjourned to December 11, 2012 for hearing.