ICPC probes Yari: Court grants ICPC express permission to freeze Ex’s governor’s accounts

The Federal high court sitting in Abuja on Friday, granted a request by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to freeze bank accounts allegedly owned by the immediate past governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari.

According to report on Sun News https://www.sunnewsonline.com/more-trouble-for-ex-gov-yari-as-court-grants-icpcs-request-to-freeze-his-bank-accounts/

Justice Taiwo Taiwo after listening to the motion exparte ordered that the accounts in Polaris and Zenith banks with funds in United States dollars and Nigerian naira, be frozen pending when the affected person shows cause why the freezing order should be vacated.

The court ordered that ex-Governor Yari or anyone with vested interest in the accounts, must within 14 days, appear to show cause why the funds which the ICPC described as stashed loot, should not be permanently forfeited to the government. It directed Federal Government to publish the interim order in a national daily, within the next seven days.

The ICPC  brought the motion ex-parte marked FHC/ABJ/CS/916/2019, following an intelligence report that Yari and the two companies “are involved in some unlawful activity against the interest of the Zamfara State Government and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

In the said motion which was moved by Mr. Osuobeni Akponimisingha, the commission alleged that Yari and the companies received various funds belonging to the Zamfara State Government through their accounts with the two commercial banks. Akponimisingha told the court that the funds in the various accounts remained only N24,289,910 and $669,248 as of the time of filing the applications.

Specifically, while the Naira and Dollar accounts in Zenith and Polaris Banks, respectively, were opened and operated in Yari’s name, the four other accounts were operated in the name of two firms,  Kayatawa Nigeria Limited and B. T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.

Justice Taiwo who adjourned further proceedings till September 11,  granted the applicant’s prayers for: “An order of interim forfeiture of the sum of N12, 912, 848.68 (Twelve Million, Nine Hundred and Twelve Thousand, Eighty Hundred and Forty-Eight Naira, Sixty-Eight Kobo), being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Zenith Bank Plc with account number: 1001381684 in the name of Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari.

“An order of interim forfeiture of the sum of $56, 056.75 (Fifty-Six Thousand, Fifty-Six Dollars, Seventy-Five Cents), being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Polaris Bank with account number: 21 10000928 in the name of Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari.

“An order of interim forfeiture of the sum of N11, 159, 674.17 (Eleven Million, One Hundred and Fifty-Nine Thousand, Six Hundred and Seventy-Four Naira, Seventeen Kobo), being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Zenith Bank Plc with account number: 1010757436 in the name of Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.

“An order of interim forfeiture of the s.um of $301, 319 99 (Three Hundred and One Thousand, Three Hundred and Nineteen Dollars, ninety-nine cents), being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Zenith Bank Plc with account number: 5360050304 in the name of Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.

“An order of interim forfeiture of the sum of N217, 388.04 (Two Hundred and Seventeen Thousand, Three Hundred and EightyEight Naira, Four Kobo), being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Zenith Bank Plc with account number; 1012556798 in the name of B.T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.

“An order of interim forfeiture of the sum of $311, 872.15 (Three Hundred and Eleven Thousand, Eight Hundred and Seventy-Two Dollars, fifteen cents), being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Zenith Bank Plc with account number: 5364669609 in the name of B.T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.

“An order of this Honourable Court directing Zenith Bank Plc to fix the alleged proceeds of crime in the aforesaid accounts in an interest yielding account pending the Respondents show cause why the funds should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“An order of this Honourable Court directing Polaris Bank Limited to fix the alleged proceeds of crime in the aforesaid account in an interest yielding account pending the Respondents show cause why the funds should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

In a supporting affidavit that was deposed to by Iliya Markus, an officer of the ICPC, he told the court that investigation revealed that Yari had two days before the expiration of his tenure on May 27, received N350m that was paid into his account by the Permanent Secretary Cabinet Affairs of Zamfara State, aside his salary.

He said the amount was transferred the next day by Yari to EFAB Properties Limited. The deponent told the court that though Yari had from 2011 to 2019, used the account to draw his salaries, he however received additional N10m from the Zamfara State Ministry of Finance on August 4, 2011. He told the court that Yari had on April 7, 2011, deposited $40m in cash,  into the account of the 2nd Respondent, Kayatawa Nigeria Ltd, which had zero balance before he became governor. ICPC said analysis of the firm’s account further revealed that Yari deposited the sum of $90m cash in 13 tranches.

“That on June 27, 2011, the 1st Respondent also deposited the sum of $50, 000.00 (Fifty Thousand Dollars) in cash into the account of the 2nd Respondent.

“That one Zayyanu Abubakar deposited the sum of $180, 000. 00 (One Hundred ‘Eighty Thousand Dollars) into the account of the 2nd Respondent between August and September, 2017.”

The commission informed the court that its  analysis revealed that N150m was transferred to the account of the 3rd Respondent, B. T. Oil and Gas Nigeria, from the Nigeria Governors Forum on June 18, 2015, while Yari served as its Chairman. He was said to have withdrawn N100m from the account on July 18, 2015.

Meanwhile, the former governor yesterday prayed the Federal High Court Abuja, to direct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to unseal his property located at Maitama, Abuja. Yari, in an exparte motion brought by his Counsel, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, said the EFCC sealed the property contrary to the provision of the law. Magaji, who said that the application was to ensure that each government agency operates within the confines of the law, urged the judge ”to invoke his power to direct the EFCC to go and remove the red inscription pasted in the house.”

“And we urge your Lordship to direct parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the suit,” Magaji said. Justice Taiwo Taiwo, however, adjourned the matter till Aug. 19 for ruling.