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Supreme Court Reserves Judgment on N3.5 Billion Paris Club Fraud

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Supreme Court Reserves Judgment on N3.5 Billion Paris Club Fraud

The final decision on the appeal regarding the forfeiture of N1.2bn relating to the Paris Club Fund has been postponed by the Supreme Court of Nigeria until June 7, 2024.

Naija News reports that the appellant, Melrose General Services Limited, is contesting the Court of Appeal’s ruling in May 2019, which ordered the forfeiture of the said amount.

The funds were deemed to be proceeds from illegal activities related to the Paris Club fund, in which Melrose General Services Limited was involved.

The EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, announced this development in a statement on Thursday.

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The appellant’s legal representative, Kehinde Ogunwumiji, brought to the highest court a motion requesting the annulment of the Court of Appeal’s decision.

Ogunwumiji emphasized that the funds in question in the forfeiture case were not derived from any illegal activities, but rather were payment for a legitimate contractual and consultancy agreement.

On the other hand, the EFCC’s counsel presented a counter-affidavit dated March 11, 2024, urging the court to consider his written argument and reject the appellant’s appeal.

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The statement reads: “My Lords, we seek the leave of your noble Lordships to undertake a brief overview of the concept of forfeiture granted by the two courts below in a bid to drive home the 1st respondent`s case.

“There are generally two types of forfeitures used to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crimes. They share the same objective, namely the forfeiture of the state of the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime. Both share common two-fold rationales.”

Arguing further, he stressed, “Recall that the appellant filed his notice of appeal against the well-considered judgment of the Federal High Court, which was equally dismissed by the Court of Appeal on May 31, 2019, having found that the appellant failed to show that the said funds are not proceeds of crime.

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“Further to the background of the matter, the EFCC carried out investigations which revealed, among others, that the sum of N3.5bn was fraudulently paid to the appellant to carry out a consultancy job for the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, under the guise that the appellant carried out a consultancy job for the NGF entitling it to the money when it did not do any such work. The appellant made several withdrawals within a short time, leaving ₦1,222,384,857.84 before the EFCC intervened.

“Further investigation led to the recovery of an additional sum of N220m, which the appellant had paid to WASP Networks Ltd and Thebe Wellness Services”.

Having listened to all the submissions, the five-man panel of the apex court reserved judgment on the matter till June 7, 2024, Naija News understands.

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