The decorum of the Federal High Court, Lagos judicial division sitting in Ikoyi was serene.
The FHC has ordered the temporary forfeiture of Victoria East Park Hotel and Suites located along Igbogbo-Mayegun Road, Ikorodu, Lagos, over an alleged fraud of N53.7m.
The presiding judge of the court, Hon. Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered the EFCC, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to take over the hotel for 21 days to enable it to conclude its investigation of the alleged fraud of N53.7million.
Ayanfeoluwa Ogunsina counsel to the prosecution, EFCC had filed an ex parte (urgent) application on Tuesday, July 2017 informed the hon. court that it strongly believed that the Victoria East Park Hotel was acquired with proceeds of fraud by one person named Ebiesuwa Fredrick, who is believed to be the ring leader of alleged syndicate of fraudsters based in Ibadan, Oyo State and with accomplices in Lagos perpetrating fraudulent activities.
EFCC’s counsel addressed the hon. Justice Obiozor and stated that EFCC sought the order of the hon. Court to take over the Victoria East Park Hotel so as to prevent the fraudsters from disposing of it while investigation was still ongoing, thereby “defeating the end of justice.”
It was further stated to the court by the EFCC’s counsel that the anti-graft agency was investigating one Ebiesuwa Fredrick and members of his syndicate who were still at large, based on a petition the commission received from one Dunni Olagbegi, who claimed to have been duped to the tune of N53.7million by the suspects.
While addressing the court oin the urgency of the matter the EFCC’s counsel informed the court that Chris Odofin, an investigating officer with the EFCC, who deposed to an affidavit of urgency filed in support of the Motion Ex-parte application, avers as follows in the affidavit:
“The antics of these fraudsters include luring people into their criminal den where they present one of them as a pastor, hypnotise their victim, make the victim take an oath never to reveal what they say or do and then use all sorts of deceitful methods to collect money from the victim.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the respondent (Fredrick) is a member of the syndicate of fraudsters that specialise in duping unsuspecting members of the society and have duped several people through this means and are still on the prowl, seeking more people to devour.
“The respondent and some members of his syndicate are based in Ibadan, while they also have accomplices in Lagos.
“They launder the proceeds of their criminal activities through acquisition of landed properties within and outside Ibadan, with a view to legitimising and integrating their ill-gotten wealth into the mainstream economy, despite the fact that they have no legitimate sources of income.”
The urgency of the matter was critically elaborated and enunciated before the court by EFCC’s counsel.
The court after entertaining arguments by the EFCC’s counsel, the Hon. Justice Obiozor, held as follows and granted the prayers as sought on the face of the ex-parte application, empowering EFCC to take over Victoria East Park Hotel and Suites for 21 days.
The judge further held and directed the EFCC to paste the court order in a conspicuous place on the premises of the hotel to serve as a notice to any interested party or persons in the matter.
Court adjourned the matter till 9 August for further proceedings.