Nigeria: $11m Cyber Fraud - Court Forfeits Invictus Obi's N280m to Govt

22 November 2019

Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered the permanent forfeiture of N280,555,010.65 "warehoused" in the bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited.

The order came after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told the court that the two firms were owned by Obinwanne Okeke, "a strong leader of a cyber crime syndicate that specialised in business e-mail compromise."

The judge had, on October 9, ordered the temporary forfeiture of the money.

He ordered the EFCC to publish the interim forfeiture order in a national daily and adjourned till yesterday for anyone interested in the money to appear before him to give reasons why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.

At the resumed hearing yesterday, EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the anti-graft agency had published the interim forfeiture order as directed by the court.

Oyedepo said as there was no opposition, the judge should order the permanent forfeiture of the money to the federal government.

After listening to the lawyer, Justice Aikawa ordered the N280m to be permanently forfeited to the federal government.

The judge ruled, "I have seen the application seeking the final forfeiture of the sum of N280.5million warehoused in the two bank accounts, which was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

"I am satisfied that the requirements enumerated under Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Offences Act have been met by the applicant in this suit; consequently, this application is hereby granted as prayed, as it remains unchallenged.

"The sum of N280.5 million found in the bank account of Invictus Investment limited, who is the second respondent in this suit, is hereby forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria."

Obinwanne Okeke, popularly known as Invictus Obi, is currently standing trial in the United States of America over an alleged $11million cyber fraud.

The 31-year-old Nigerian was, in 2016, celebrated by Forbes as one of Africa's "most outstanding 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30."

He was described by the magazine as "proof that there is hope for Africa."

Okeke was, however, arrested last August by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, implicated as the ringleader of a cyber crime syndicate that had defrauded a number of American citizens to the tune of $11million "through fraudulent wire transfer instructions in a massive, coordinated, business e-mail compromise scheme."

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