Court Orders Forfeiture of N1.5bn Hospital Owned By Okorocha’s Aide

A Federal High Court sitting in Owerri, Imo State on Friday, ordered the forfeiture of Dews of Hope Hospital, a 200-bed state-of-the-art hospital, which was allegedly built at a cost of N1.5 billion by an aide to the former governor of Imo State and a serving senator, Rochas Okorocha.

The hospital located at the heart of Owerri had adjoining staff and doctors’ quarters.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on August 22, 2019, secured the interim forfeiture of the property from Justice A. Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt.

The application for the interim forfeiture was triggered by an evidence that the facility may have been acquired through proceeds of illicit activities as funds from Imo State government house, Owerri, were traced to the hospital.

EFCC investigation revealed that Dr Paschal Obi, former Permanent Secretary and Principal Secretary to Okorocha, now a serving member of the House of Representatives, was a signatory to the accounts.

Obi, like members of the board of the hospital, vehemently denied ownership of the medical facility.

The Managin Director of the hospital who was invited for questioning could not also explain how the hospital was funded.

According to a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, these developments led the anti-graft agency to file for the forfeiture of the property on July 25, 2019, under section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud, and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.

“Granting the request for the interim forfeiture of the property, the court ordered the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper which was accordingly published in The Nation Newspaper of August 30, 2019 and Leadership Newspaper of September 3 respectively. Interested parties were asked to show cause why the property should not be forfeited to the Federal Government within 14 days from the dates of the publications.”

“Upon the expiration of the 14-day notice and with no one showing interest in the hospital, the commission filed for the final forfeiture of the facility,” the statement said.

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