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Billions traced to Saraki forfeited to federal government



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The cash haul of N1.4 billion traced to Senate President Bukola Saraki as part of the Paris Club refund has been forfeited temporarily to the federal government.
Justice Cecelia Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, in Ikoyi, Lagos, gave the order on Friday.
The fund was stashed away at Access Bank Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank),
The funds were traced to Senate President Bukola Saraki and his aides who took the funds from the Nigeria Governor’s Forum and laundered most of it through jewelry sellers in Dubai.
According to the EFCC investigating the fund disbursement, the company linked to Saraki moved the fund between December 2016 and January 2017.
Justice Olatoregun made the order on Friday in accordance to an exparte application filed and argued by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) through its lawyer, E. E. Iheanacho. 
Apart from the order of temporary forfeiture of the above-stated amount, the court also ordered the EFCC to notify whoever is interested in the said money to appear before the court and show cause why the money should not be finally forfeited. 
She directed the commission to publish the temporary forfeiture order in a national newspaper for the respondents or anyone who is interested in the money to appear before the court and show causewithin 14 days before the final forfeiture order will be given. 
Listed as respondents in the suit are: Melrose General Services Limited, WASP Networks Limited, and Thebe Wellness Services.
The EFCC in an affidavit deposed to by one of its investigators, Usman Zakari, stated that on May 26, 2016, the 36 states governors through the Nigerian Governor Forum (NGF) engaged the services of consortium of consultants made up of GSCL consulting and Bizplus Consulting Services Limited tagged ‘GSCL Bizplus Consortium’ for the purpose of verification, reconciliation, and recovery of over-deductions on Paris and London Club Loans on the account of states and local government between 1995 to 2002. 
The Consortium, the EFCC said, carried out the assignment of verification, reconciliation, and recovery of the said Paris and London Club loans on the states and local government between 1995 and 2002 and came up with a total sum of $6.5billion as due for refund to the states. 
Zakari said that the report of the Consortium dated  August 31, 2016, showing a breakdown of the debt profile state by state and over-deductions was addressed to the Honorable Minister of Finance. And that the report was submitted to the NGF. 
The EFCC operative further averred that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria approved an initial payment of the sum of $1.7billion  for the  states. 
He also stated that in line with the request of the state governors, the Ministry of Finance through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), paid the sum of $86.5million  and N19billion, (representing five percent of the approved initial Paris and London Club refund) respectfully into the GTBank Plc and Access Bank Pic accounts of NGF purportedly to defray consultancy and incidental expenses. 
He said N19 billion was paid into the Access Bank Plc account of NGF on December 8, 2016. And on December 14, 2016, the NGF paid the sum of N4billion to the Consortium as part of agreed consultancy fee. 
Melrose General Services Limited, whose alter ego is one Robert Mbonu a former MD of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, was never engaged by the NGF to carry out any consultancy services in relation to the said Paris and London Club refund.
In order to obtain public fund, the first respondent recopied and misinterpreted the work of Consortium to the NGF for payment as though it was first respondent’s work. 
He stated that based on the act of Mbonu, the first respondent was paid the sum of N3.5 billion by the NGF on December 14, 2016, while no consultancy job was executed by the first respondent on behalf of the NGF.