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Trouble as EFCC finds N632.2m in Ex-Chief Judge’s account

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has traced over N632.2million to the account of former Enugu State Chief Judge Innocent Azubuike Umezulike.

An EFCC source on Wednesday, January 11, said some of the lodgements came from lawyers, businessmen, politicians and litigants.

According to The Nation, three properties allocated to the former chief justice may be confiscated.

The former Chief Judge has been invited for interrogation on January 17 on some of the “shocking” lodgments.

It was learnt that the ongoing probe of the judge followed petitions against him, including some sent to the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The NJC said it recommended Umezulike to Governor Justice Lawrence Ugwuanyi of Enugu state for compulsory retirement for “delivering judgment in a case 126 days after final addresses were adopted by parties, and for other instances of abuse of office”. He has since been retired.

The council also found Justice Umezulike guilty of allegedly “receiving a donation of N10m from a businessman, Prince Arthur Eze, during his book launch while two cases in which Eze was said to have had “vested interest”, were in the judge’s court.”

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A highly-placed source, said: “From the probe of the salary account of the judge with the main branch of First Bank Plc in Enugu, our team discovered that he was operating it without a BVN as at June 2016.

“Further verification showed that he was earning N701, 726. 28 per month but he did not make any single withdrawal for 11 months.

“When we analysed an account linked to the judge, the turnover was about N396, 544.034.73 with a closing balance of N632.223.47 as at 15th of June 2016.”

“We were able to identify how lodgments were made into the account linked to Justice Umezulike.

“The depositors included Justice Umezulike, legal practitioners, businessmen, politicians and litigants. The judge invested most of the cash in Treasury Bills.”

There are indications that some assets identified with the judge might be seized by the EFCC, pending the conclusion of its investigation in line with sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004.

Our detectives uncovered three properties allocated to the ex-CJ by the Enugu State Government. These are:

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Plot H/136 Golf Phase II, Enugu allocated in 2000 but sold to Mr. J.I. Chime in 2007 who subsequently sold it to Cosmas Offia in 2008;

Block B2 Flat 16 Maryland Estate, Enugu allocated in 2012 Sold to Igwe Goddy Moore; and

Plot H/88 Gold Estate Phase I, GRA Enugu allocated in 2015 which is still in the judge’s possession.

Meanwhile, as EFCC continue to probe the $153m loot by former minister of petroleum resources, Alison Diezani-Madueke, the commission might declare Ben Otti a former Deputy Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation wanted.

According to a report by Punch, Otti, who served as director of finance and accounts at the NNPC, is central to the investigation into the $153m that was allegedly diverted from the account of the NNPC by the then minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in 2014.

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