The Federal Government, on Wednesday, urged the Federal High Court in Abuja to make an order of interim forfeiture to enable it to take over the assets and the headquarters of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, in Abuja pending the determination of the criminal case against the group and its commandant, Dickson Akor.
The Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, also on Wednesday amended the charges it earlier preferred against Akor and Peace Corps, reducing the number of counts from 90 to 13.
The prosecution accused Akor and Peace Corps of money laundering and fraud involving the sum of N1.2bn allegedly obtained from unsuspecting Nigerians.
Moving the motion for interim forfeiture of Peace Corps’ assets on Wednesday, Mr. James Idachaba of the Legal Unit of the Police Federal Capital Territory Command, told Justice John Tsoho that Peace Corps’ property situated at No. 57, A. Abubakar Crescent, Off Alex Ekwueme Way, Opposite Jabi Lake, Abuja, “was used to commit crime”.
Idachaba also prayed the court to direct security agencies to seal the property off.
He anchored his application on the provisions of section 330 of the Administration of Criminal Justice 2015, and section 14 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act.
Opposing the motion, Peace Corps, through its lawyer, Mr. John Ochogwu, alleged that the police had already sealed the property off before approaching the court for the order of interim forfeiture.
Ochogwu argued that the motion was an attempt by the government “to legalise” police’s act of “illegality”.
Peace Corps also filed a counter-motion dated October 6, seeking an order directing the police to unseal its headquarters.
Ochogwu also prayed the court to direct one of its officials to visit the said property with a view to verifying whether or not it was previously sealed and constantly watched by armed policemen.
Justice Tsoho fixed January 15 to deliver ruling on the two applications.
Earlier in the proceedings, a lawyer from the AGF’s office, Mrs. T. V. C Kuku, told the court that further investigations had revealed new facts which she said necessitated the amendment of the charges.
She urged the judge give the prosecution time to enable it to effect service of the amended charges on the defendants.
The court had on March 29 granted Akor bail in the sum of N30m, following his arraignment on the 90 counts.
In the original 90 counts, the prosecution accused the defendants of money laundering involving funds allegedly obtained through unlawful activity contrary to section 7(1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other fraud related Offences Act, Cap A6 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
Akor and the group were also accused of obtaining money by false pretence contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other fraud related Offences Act, Cap A6 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
The prosecution alleged that Akor and the Incorporated Trustees of Peace Corps of Nigeria, had between January 1, 2013 and March 6, 2017, committed an offence, by allegedly defrauding unsuspecting Nigerians of the sum of N274, 712, 126. 18 paid into the defendants’ Ecobank account No. 4582022099 under false pretence and with intent to defraud.