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Internet Fraud: Court Forfeits Bitcoins Worth N40m, Other Items To FG

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Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court, Lagos has ordered final forfeiture of 1.982, 022, 84 Units of Bitcoin worth N40 million, to the federal government of Nigeria.

The judge also ordered final forfeiture of iphone 12 Pro Max; iphone 7, and all funds found in account numbers 0301510085 and 2174982616, domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and UBA Plc, respectively, said to belongs to one Alkali Naziru Tanimu, a suspected internet fraudster, popularly called Yahoo Boy.

The court had on July 19, 2022, made an interim order of forfeiture of the listed items.

However, Justice Oweibo made the final forfeiture order of Friday, after hearing Barrister Sulaiman I. Sulaiman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who moved and argued the the application, it’s affidavit in support and written address.

In urging the court to finally forfeit the listed items to the federal government, Sulaiman said the application was brought pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 2006 and Section 44 (2)(B) of the Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as Amended.

Sulaiman told the court the the items sought to be forfeited are reasonably suspected to be proceeds, and acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity. And that the court has the statutory powers under the provision of section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 to forfeit same.

EFCC in an affidavit in support of the application, deposed to by one of it’s investigators, John Daniel, attached to the Advance Fee Fraud Section 1, Lagos Zonal Command, stated that his agency got a credible intelligence report about the activities of a syndicate of internet fraudsters operating at Eko Atlantic City of Lagos state. Adding that the said intelligence report was analyzed, found worthy and assigned to his team for discreet investigation and report.

The investigator stated that surveillance was done, and an eventual sting operation was carried which led to the arrest of one Alkali Naziru Tanimu, amongst others. And that upon arrest, the said Alkali Naziru Tanimu, together with others were brought to their office and accordingly processed, and iPhone 12 Pro Max and an iPhone 7 were recovered from him.

The deponet averred further that the two phones were taken to the Forensic Laboratory where they were analyzed and fraudulent documents were printed out therefrom, which he duly endorsed.

He stated that when confronted with those facts, the suspect volunteered to make his extra judicial statement under words of caution, wherein he confessed to being involved in internet fraud.

He stated that search was further was conducted in the name of the suspect and two bank accounts were traced to him, which sums in the said accounts are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful. And that his team’s investigation revealed that the suspect is into dating scam where he poses as, and uses the picture an Arab woman to defraud unsuspecting victims on the internet.

He stated that the suspect has benefitted from his illicit activity 1.98202284 Units of Bitcoin, which is equivalent to N40 million. And that the sums of money domiciled in the bank accounts and Bitcoin units listed above are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity, and the properties acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.

He stated that the Court had on July 19, 2022 also directed the EFCC to publish in any national daily the said interim order of forfeiture to enable any interested party appear before the Court to show cause why the assets should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

He averred that in compliance with the order of this Honourable Court, the EFCC published in The Punch newspaper of August 31, 2022, the interim order of this Honourable Court.

He stated that the Court has the requisite power and jurisdiction to grant this application. And that it will serve the course of justice to grant this application.

Justice Oweibo after listening to the EFCC counsel, and backed his decision with several plethoras of authorites, held that: “the application is meritorious and same ought to be granted, and it’s hereby granted.”

He therefore ordered final forfeiture of all the items.

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