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Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Enugu State Government has begun moves to recover assets belonging to ex Gov Nnamani

The Enugu State Government has begun moves to recover assets belonging to four companies associated with former governor, Chimaraoke Nnamani, which were forfeited to the Federal Government by the order of a Lagos Federal High Court.

The Enugu State Executive Council, chaired by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, at its meeting on Thursday, approved the engagement of a law firm to challenge the forfeiture of the assets to the Federal Government.

The companies forfeited to the Federal Government are Renaissance University Teaching Hospital, Ceuna Communication Limited (Cosmo FM), Capital City Automobiles Nigeria Limited and Rainbownet Limited.

Justice Mohammed Yinusa of the Lagos FHC had, on July 8 ordered that their assets be forfeited to the Federal Government.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had dragged the four companies alongside Nnamani to court for money laundering offences allegedly committed by the former governor during his stay in office from 1999 to 2007.

The four companies, on May 19, 2015, pleaded guilty to a 10-count charge brought against them by the anti-graft agency.

The court had cited provisions of the EFCC Act in ordering the forfeiture of the companies’ assets to the Federal Government.

According to the EFCC, the said assets are located across the five states in the South East. They include 22 duplex buildings in Ebeano Under Tunnel Estate now known as Fidelity Estate, in Enugu; Renaissance University Teaching Hospital, Enugu; Cosmos 105.5 FM digital station (Ceuna Communications); and Capital City Automobile Limited located at 12 Station Road, GRA, Enugu.

Also forfeited to the Federal Government were properties of Hill Gate Investment – Plot No H12, H13, H14, H15, H21, H116, H188, Plot 10, Plot H11, Plot H16, Plot H17, Plot H18, Plot 19, Plot H20, Plot H49, Plot H50, Plot H117, CP/4 (HCR2), CP5 (HCR2) CP/6 (HCR2) CP/7 (HCR2) CP/8.

The forfeited assets also included several undeveloped properties/plots of land of Rainbownet Nigeria Limited in Enugu, Abakaliki, Aba, Owerri, Onitsha, Awka and Umuahia.
Assets of Rainbownet Communication Limited, which include BTS, Microwave Avenue Radio, Rectifiere and a host of the equipment in various sites in Anambra State were also forfeited to the Federal Government.

Aside the landed property, over N35m from the frozen bank accounts of the companies were equally forfeited to the Federal Government as a result of the court order.

Our correspondent learnt that the Enugu State Government felt the assets forfeited to the Federal Government actually belonged to it.

The state Commissioner of Information, Dr. Godwin Udeuhele, disclosed after the executive council meeting that the engagement of the law firm was approved following a memorandum presented by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Miletus Eze.

The EFCC had to opt for a separate trial of the companies after Nnamani’s frequent applications for permission to travel abroad for medical treatment continuously stalled court proceedings.

Nnamani, alongside his then aide, Sunday Anyaogu, and six firms linked to them, namely Rainbownet Nigeria Limited, Hillgate Nigeria Limited, Cosmos FM, Capital City Automobile Nigeria Limited, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School were first arraigned before Justice Tijani Abubakar in 2007.

The case was later re-assigned to Justice Charles Archibong following the transfer of Justice Abubakar out of the Lagos division of the Federal High Court.

Eventually, the case was assigned to Justice Yinusa, after Justice Archibong (now retired) was also transferred out of the Lagos division of the court.

According to the charge, Nnamani conspired with the other accused persons to launder funds from the state treasury, especially monies meant for local councils of Enugu State.

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