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Nigerian court seizes Ikoyi cash flat

Ayodele Oke PHOTO:Green parrot

A Nigerian judge on Thursday ordered the seizure of a flat linked to the former head of the country’s National Intelligence Agency, after more than $43 million in cash was found during an anti-corruption raid.Judge Saliu Seidu, sitting at the Federal High Court in Lagos, said the apartment in the upmarket Ikoyi area of the city should be temporarily forfeited to the government, pending any challenge within 14 days.Acting on a tip-off, agents from Economic and Financial Crimes Commission raided the property on April 12 this year and discovered just under $43.5 million (37.4 million euros, £33.1 million).They also found £27,800, as well as 23.2 million naira ($65,000, 51,000 euros, £49,600), the court was told.Documents established the flat was bought in 2015 by Folashade Oke, the wife of Ayodele Oke, who at the time was director-general of the NIA.It was alleged she bought the property using $1.66 million from government funds to which her husband had access.President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in 2015 on a promise to cut endemic corruption in government and has vowed to recover what he said were “mind-boggling” sums of stolen public money.Oke, who had been suspended for keeping an unauthorised stash of cash in a private home, was sacked last week with the country’s most senior civil servant, Babachir Lawal.Lawal was accused of awarding deals for reconstruction in areas of northeast Nigeria hit by Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency to companies in which he had a personal interest.Buhari’s handling of the two cases has been seen as a litmus test for the extent of his anti-corruption drive, given that most of those arrested and charged so far have been high-profile members of the main opposition.The Oke case was adjourned until November 30.

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