Justice Tijjani Ringim of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the temporary forfeiture of the funds and properties traced to the suspended aide of the Ogun Governor, Abidemi Ganiyu Rufai, accused of engaging in wire fraud in the United States.
Rufai, who is a senior special assistant to Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, is currently being detained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over $350,000 employment fraud allegedly committed during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown.
Specifically, Justice Ringim’s order covers Rufai’s property located at House 11. Omodayo Awotuga Street, Bera Estate, Chevy View, Lekki, Lagos and funds in his accounts with Zenith Bank Plc and Sterling Bank Plc.
The judge granted the order after entertaining an ex parte application filed and moved by one of the lawyers of the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) Ebuka Okongwu.
Listed as respondents by the EFCC in the proceedings are Rufai and his firm Omo Mayodele Global Investment.
The EFCC counsel had informed the court that it was essential for it to grant the prayer of interim forfeiture to preserve the rest and prevent further dissipation of the defendants’ funds.
Okongwu also filed an affidavit in support of the application, which was sworn to by an EFCC investigator, Usman Abdulhamid, detailing the agency’s investigation of Rufai in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
In the affidavit, Abdulhamid claimed that Rufai had already dissipated a suspicious N29.37million in tranches of N5,000,000, N5,000,000, N2,730,000, N1,100,000, N2,040,000, N2,000,000, N2,000,000 and N5,000,000.
He claimed that the funds were warehoused in his accounts in three banks.
“Rufai was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport in New York on May 14 over alleged $350,000 COVID-19 unemployment fraud from the Washington State Employment Security Department, in the United States.
“He was indicted for alleged conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft,” the investigator averred.