Justice T. Ringin of a Federal High Court sitting in Owerri on Friday, ordered the final forfeiture of Dews of Hope Hospital, a 200-bed state-of-the-art hospital, allegedly built at a cost of N1.5bn by an aide to a former governor of Imo State and serving senator, Rochas Okorocha.
The hospital located at the heart of Owerri metropolis had adjoining staff and doctors’ quarters.
This is happening barely 24 hours after a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, was convicted and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for N7.65bn fraud by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 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 interim forfeiture was triggered by evidence that the facility may have been acquired through proceeds of illicit activities as funds from Government House, Owerri, was traced to the hospital.
The commission’s investigation revealed that Dr Paschal Obi, former Permanent Secretary and Principal Secretary to then-governor Okorocha, now a serving member of the House of Representatives, was a signatory to the accounts.
However, Obi, like members of the board of the hospital, vehemently denied ownership of the medical facility.
The managing director of the hospital on invitation, could not also explain how the hospital was funded.
These developments, according to a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, 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.
It said, “In granting the request for the interim forfeiture of the property, the court ordered the commission 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, asking interested parties 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.