Court Orders Permanent Forfeiture of Private University, Other Assets to Fed Govt

June 8, 2024

A Federal High Court in Abuja has issued an order of final forfeiture of all assets of a private university, NOK University, located in Kaduna State to the Federal Government.

Justice Joyce Abdulmalik, in a judgment on Friday, held that the promoter of the university, Anthony Hassan, failed to prove, with convincing evidence, that he did not acquire the assets with proceeds of crime.

Also to be forfeited by Hassan, a former Director of Finance and Accounts (DFA) in the Federal Ministry of Health, are three other investments – Gwasmyen Water Factory, Gwasmyen International Hotel and Gwasmyen Event Centre all located in Kaduna.

The physical assets of the university forfeited include the Senate Building, ICT Building, Faculty of Medicine Building, Science Deanery Building, two Academic buildings, a faculty hall and other buildings.

Justice Abdulmalik rejected the claim by Hassan and his company, KYC Inter-Project Limited, that the school was built with funds sourced from other investors.

The judge also rejected the claim by one Barrister Victor Olisah that he owned the six plots of land on which Gwasmyen International Hotel was erected, on the grounds that he failed to establish his ownership of the land with credible evidence.

The judgment was on an application for final forfeiture brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to which the court had in 2022 granted an interim forfeiture order in respect of the assets.

Justice Abdulmalik held that the EFCC, through its lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho effectively established, with suffecient evidence, that Hassan acquired the said assets with proceeds of crime.

The judge held that Hassan and KYC failed woefully to show with cogent documentary evidence the financial trails of how they sourced funds to acquire the assets.

The EFCC had, in an affidavit supporting the application for plfinal forfeiture, stated that its investigation showed that Hassan, who has always been a civil servant, used its position to confer undue advantage on himself.

The EFCC stated that Hassan, “who was a civil servant, rose through the ranks to become a Director in the Civil Service of the Federation.

“In the course of his career, he was posted to the Federal Ministry of Health from 2001 to 2008; Federal Ministry of Women Affairs from 2009 to 2015; Ministry of Niger Delta in 2015; Ministry of Youth and Sport Development from 2015 to 2016; Ministry of Health from 2016 to 2019; and Ministry of Works and Housing from 2019 to 2020.”

It added that Hassan “was the Director of the Finance & Accounts Department (DFA) in the Ministry of Health between 2016 and 2019 and was in charge of running the day to day activities of the Finance & Accounts Department of the Ministry.

“The first respondent (Hassan) is the owner of the NOK University Ltd (the university) Kachia, Kuduna State.

“The university was incorporated on 6th October, 2021 with the wife and children of the first respondent as the directors and guarantors of the university but without the first respondent’s name.

“Apart from the funds deposited to secure the bank guarantee of the university, the first respondent funded the acquisition of the land on which the University was built as well as the buildings and structures on it.

“The first respondent is also the owner of Gwasmyen International Hotel Events & Recreational Centre Ltd and Gwasmyen Water and Juice Company Nig. Ltd.

“While registering the Hotel with the Corporate Affairs Commission, he used his wife and son as the directors and shareholders of the companies.”