Court orders forfeiture of varsity, factory, hotel, others ‘owned by civil servant’

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the interim forfeiture of a private university – NOK University, Kaduna, including every structure in it – allegedly acquired unlawfully by a former Director of Finance and Accounts in the Federal Ministry of Health, Anthony Hassan.

Some of the identified structures in the university include the Senate building, the ICT building, Faculty of Medicine building, Deanery building, two academic buildings, faculty hall and all other buildings said to belong to Hassan in Kachia, Kaduna State.

In a ruling yesterday, Justice Zainab Abubakar also ordered the interim forfeiture of Gwasmyen Water Factory; Gwasmyen Event Centre and Gwasmyen International Hotel, also said to belong to Hassan.

Justice Abubakar’s ruling was on an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and argued yesterday by its lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho.

The judge ordered the anti-graft body to publish the interim forfeiture order in a national newspaper within 14 days for interested parties to appear and show cause why the affected properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

She adjourned further proceedings in the case till October 5.

The EFCC alleged, in the papers it filed in court, that Hassan diverted public funds with which he purportedly acquired the identified assets.

The commission also alleged that Hassan diverted the funds running into billions of naira through the Federal Government’s “Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS)”.

It explained that “Anthony Hassan, who was a civil servant, rose through the ranks to become a Director in the Civil Service of the Federation”.

The EFCC added: “In the course of his career, he was posted to the Federal Ministry of Health, from 2001 to 2008; the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, from 2009 to 2015; the Ministry of Niger Delta in 2015; the Ministry of Youth and Sport Development, from 2015 to 2016; the Ministry of Health, from 2016 to 2019, and the Ministry of Works and Housing, from 2019 to 2020.

“The respondent (Hassan) was the Director of the Finance and Accounts Department (DFA) in the Ministry of Health between 2016 and 2019 and was in charge of running the day-to-day activities of the Finance and Accounts Department in the ministry.

“The respondent is the owner of NOK University Limited, Kachia, Kuduna State. The university was incorporated on October 6, 2021, with the wife and children of the respondent as the directors and guarantors of the university but without the respondent’s name.

“This is revealed from the Corporate Affairs Commission’s (CAC’s) response to the enquiry by the EFCC.

“The respondent promoted the formation of the university through Sherah Education Resources Limited, a company incorporated by him.”

The commission also alleged that Hassan maintained some bank accounts in the names of some companies, like Kyus Enterprises Limited, Kyus Hotels Limited and Kyus Oil & Gas Limited, into which public funds were equally diverted.

“These funds, for the establishment and building of the facilities/building of the NOK University, Gwasmyen International Hotel Limited, and Gwasmyen Bottle Water and Juice Company Limited, were not from the known and lawful earning of the respondent but from the money he diverted from the Ministry of Health through the GIFMIS.

“The GIFMIS was designed by the Federal Government of Nigeria as a way of actualising an integrated and automated information system and to promote modernised fiscal processes.

“It is an IT-based system that was designed for accounting and budget management implemented by the government.

“Being the Director of Finance and Accounts, the respondent was the final approving authority for all payments made on the GIFMIS and Remita platforms of the Federal Ministry of Health.

“The respondent, as the DFA in the Federal Ministry of Health, appointed Projects Accountants to handle specific projects and this entails payments being made into their personal accounts from the GIFMIS platform for disbursement to the beneficiaries towards the execution of the projects.

“While acting as the DFA in the Federal Ministry of Health, the respondent diverted public funds, using some of the workers of the Finance and Account Department, who include Data Nanbam, Musa A. Musa, Yar’Adua Maikudi, Abubakar Sadiq Bulama, Alhassan Yahaya and Yusuf Barde Ajiji.

“Between 2016 and 2019, the above workers of the Ministry of Health, referred to in paragraph 4 (xxviii), who received funds into their bank accounts as Project Accountants for the execution of various projects through the GIFMIS platform, handed over N1,309,508,877 to the respondent for the latter’s personal use.

“The respondent received these diverted public funds either in cash or through bank transfers or indirectly through third parties.

“Whilst being a civil servant, the respondent also incorporated and personally operated other companies named Kyus Enterprises Limited, Kyus Hotels Limited and Kyus Oil & Gas Limited.”

Leave a Reply