The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has sealed off two choice mansions of former governor of Edo state, Lucky Igbinedion. The two properties are those on 7 Justice Fatai Williams Street, Asokoro Abuja and 5 Danube Crescent, Maitama Abuja. The exercise was carried out on the heels of a forfeiture order granted the EFCC on Tuesday, March 1st , 2011, by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The court, presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris, authorized the Commission to seize 11 choice properties traced to the former governor. The properties are spread over Benin , Lagos , Abuja and London .The exercise which began in Abuja today March 8, 2011 is expected to cover those in other cities in the coming days.
The EFCC team comprising operatives from the Assets Forfeiture Unit of the Commission, met with occupants of the two properties located in the Asokoro and Maitama districts of Abuja. At the Asokoro mansion, Mr. Joshua Abongeriouyi and Felix Bassey, who identified themselves as cook and security man respectively to the ex-governor confirmed that the property is owned by the former governor. The two aides along with a young lady who refused to identify her but simply said she was a cousin to the ex-governor however refused to receive the court order from the EFCC team. At the Danube street property in Maitama, the only occupant who refused to reveal his name told the EFCC team that he did not know the owner of the property.
It would be recalled that Justice Idris, had, after considering an ex-parte application by a counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, granted the forfeiture order which now authorizes the EFCC to seize the properties. Igbinedion and six others are facing a 66 count charge bordering on money laundering and mismanagement of public funds amounting to about N3.2billion.The other accused persons are Patrick Eboigbodin; Michael Igbinedion and four firms: Gava Corporation Limited; Romrig Nigeria Limited, PML Securities Limited and PML( Nigeria) Limited.
In line with the forfeiture order, the seized assets are: a block of four flats at No 43 Etete Road, Benin City; a property housing Chicken Republic along Sapele Road, Benin City; a property at No 3 Boundary Road, Benin City; a building at No 20B Estate Road, Benin City; a building along Ugbor Police Station Road, Benin City; a mansion at Asokoro, Abuja; a mighty house at neighbourhood of Etete and Ugbor , Benin City; Sheraton Hotel at Government House Road, Benin City; a property at No 55C Adebisi Omotola Close, off Samuel Adedoyin Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, a property at No 5 Danube Crescent ,Maitama ,Abuja and a house at No 29, Sheldon Avenue ,Highgate, London.
Igbinedion, had at a previous court session, been ordered by Justice Adamu Hobon, of the federal high court Benin to physically appear in court on March 22, 2011, or be summoned through a bench warrant. The former governor, his younger brother, Michael and Patrick Eboigbodin were expected to be presented by their counsel for arraignment in court to answer to a fresh 66 count charge of graft filed against him by the EFCC. Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs had pleaded with the court to issue an order for a bench warrant against Igbinedion and others, for failing to appear personally for the trial. He argued that “in a serious criminal matter such as this, they cannot sit in the comfort of their homes and say their lawyers will say it for them”.
Stakeholders Review Customs Acts
The Inter-Ministerial Working Group on the Review of the Customs and Excise Management Act has engaged the public and private sector stakeholders on the Review of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) in a conference in Kano.
The Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) was enacted in 1958 and has regulated the management and administration of Customs and Excise in Nigeria. At the moment, CEMA has been identified as obsolete, antiquated, not in tandem with international best practices and do not facilitate trading between Nigeria and other countries of the world. The reform of Customs has therefore become very necessary. The reform process would lead to the emergence of a new, re-engineered and efficient Nigeria Customs Service and the necessary enabling legislations.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Review of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) was constituted to review the Customs and Excise Management Act and to provide a modern draft legislation which would take into cognizance the current realities on international trade, international best practices and the growth and development of the Nigerian economy. The Reconstituted Presidential Task-Force on the Reform of the Nigerian Customs Service was also put in place to drive the process of the overall reform of the Nigerian Customs Service. The current effort at the reform of CEMA is driven by the Reconstituted Presidential Task-Force on the Reform of the Nigerian Customs Service.
Members of the Inter-Ministerial Working Group on CEMA Review unanimously agreed that “with the quality of input collated from both private sector and public sector stakeholders in the Kano centre, the quality of the final draft of the Nigeria Customs Services Bill would be enhanced greatly, thus putting the process of the reform of the Nigeria Customs Service in the right pedestal to stimulate greater efficiency of Customs administration and operations which would lead to improved trade facilitation in particular and enhance the development of the Nigerian economy. The on-going Customs reform process would indeed benefit immensely from the inputs so collated.”