The police have charged the wife of late billionaire kidnapper, Collins Ezenwa, aka E-money, and four of his brothers with money laundering charges at the Federal High Court in Owerri, Imo State.
Eleven counts were preferred against the defendants – Gift Ezenwa Emmanuel Okoronkwo, Uche Okoronkwo, Ikechukwu Onyekere and Franklin Anugba – by the Inspector-General of Police in charge number FHC/OW/05C/2019.
The defendants were accused of conspiring to commit money laundering and unlawfully acquiring properties worth N798.6m said to be proceeds of the late kidnapper’s escapades.
The offences, according to the police are punishable under Section 17 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2012.
The charges read in part, “That you Gift Onyinyechi Ezenwa, trading under the name of Wzim Lodge Bureau De Change and others at large between 2013 and 2017, in Enugu and Imo states, within the Jurisdiction of this honourable court, knowing that one Collins Okoronkwo Ezenwa, now deceased, acquired several sum of money both in naira and dollars through illegal activities to wit: Kidnapping and armed robbery, did knowingly receive and use same to acquire the following properties: De Inglish Hotel, located at Independent Layout Enugu, valued at N220m; a five bedroom duplex also at Independent Layout Enugu, valued at N65m, eight blocks of flat located on Ogui Road in Enugu State, valued at N50m, six bungalows, located at Amakohe Owerri, Imo State valued at N40m. A twin two-storey building located at Uratah, Orji, Imo State, valued at N100m and several others including cars totalling the sum of N798, 6m.”
The charge stated that Gift collected N100m being proceeds of kidnapping, via her bank account while Emmanuel and others at large reportedly received $200,000 on Ezenwa’s behalf and used same to illegally acquire a house at No 23, Hein Crescent, Speedbat, Amakohe, Owerri, Imo state.
Ezenwa, a dismissed police corporal, was killed in January 2018 during a gun duel with policemen attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Imo State Police Command when he attempted to kidnap a Nigerian businessman based in South Africa, in Owerri.
More than 13 buildings including a hotel, belonging to the late kidnapper were reportedly traced by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team to Abia, Imo and Enugu states, while seven cars, two SUVs, one Hilux truck, a commercial bus, two tipper-lorries and a trailer belonging to him were also recovered from several locations within the South-East.
Justice T.G Ringim of the Federal High Court, Owerri, penultimate Friday, granted an interim forfeiture order to Nigeria Police Force until the end of investigation or prosecution of the matter.
Justice Ringim also ruled that anyone who has interest in any of the properties should appear before the court and “show course why the property should not be forfeited permanently to the Federal Government.”
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