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Court Orders Final Forfeiture Of 36 Exotic Cars ‘Stolen’ From Canada

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture of 36 exotic cars, allegedly stolen from Canada to Nigeria.

Justice Deinde Dipeolu made the final forfeiture order, while granting an application filed and argued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Listed as respondents in the suit are: Wilmon Autos Nigeria Limited; Ikeoyi Enterprises; Ichie Autos; Bounce Autos; Assured Motors, Emeko Auto; CNC Auto; Green Hill Auto; First Core Auto; Samuel Motors; Unique Motors; Nice and Rich Auto; Overall Properties; GIDI Auto and Chris Jane Auto Nigeria Limited.

The auto shops where the cars were recovered from are located are at Lekki-Ajah; Ojodu-Berger; Ikeja; Festac Town; Magodo and Ikota-Lekki areas respectively.

On November 29, 2023, the court had made an order for the interim/temporary forfeiture of the cars, after listening to the EFCC’s lawyer, Abdul Rasheed who moved the application for the order.

In granting the application, the court ordered the EFCC to advertise the orders in a national newspaper, for any interested persons/parties to appear before the court, and show cause, why the cars should not be permanently forfeited.

At the resumption of proceedings last Wednesday, the EFCC counsel informed the court that the order of the court made in November 2023, had been complied with, by advertising the interim forfeiture order on page 19, of the January 30, 2024 edition of The Punch newspaper, and that no person or party has filed any counter affidavit to the forfeiture.

The counsel therefore urged the court to grant his agency’s request by ordering the final forfeiture of the cars.

The EFCC also attached an affidavit in support of the application of the final forfeiture order which was deposed to by one of its investigators, Olufemi Olukini.

Parts of the deposition of the deponent in the affidavit read: “sometime in April, 2022, during an official meeting held at 7A Okoti-eboh Street, Ikoyi Lagos, between officials of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and EFCC officials, RCMP officials passed credible intelligence to the Commission which alleged that over 350 vehicles which were comprehensively listed out on an excel sheet with their respective vehicle identification Number (VIN) were stolen from Canada and shipped to Nigeria.

“That these vehicles have been sold and/or being sold on an online website by some online vendors/agents while others are displayed for sale at various car stands across the country.

“That our team commenced preliminary investigation into the case by identifying the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of each of the said stolen vehicle and subjecting them to analysis using open source intelligence (OSINT). And that preliminary results from the analysis revealed the vehicles were largely located across Lagos State metropolis particularly Lekki at different Car stands and places

“Surveillance was thereafter carried out on the identified locations followed by sting operations which led to the recovery of the vehicles.

“The VIN of the vehicles corresponds with those of the stolen vehicles contained in the Intelligence received from RCMP and no person has come forward to claim ownership of these vehicles.

“Investigation carried out revealed that substantial number of the motor vehicles described aforesaid were stolen from Canada and shipped to Nigeria between the years 2019-2021.

“That the cars were parked in residential driveways and company car lots in Canada from where they were stolen. And that various Canadian Insurance Companies which insured the vehicles indemnified the car owners and are pursuing criminal complainant lodged in Canada with the RCMP Liaison Officer attached to the Canadian Deputy High Commission, Nigeria in respect to the theft of the vehicles.

“That based on the facts stated in paragraphs, the applicant filed an application dated 13th October, 2023 for interim forfeiture of properties to the Federal Government of Nigeria which was duly granted by this Honourable Court on 29th November, 2023. This Honourable Court ordered for publication of the said order in The Punch Newspaper and the Commission’s website for any
interested party to show cause why the property should nof be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“That in compliance with the order of Court, Applicant on the 30th January, 2024 made publication on page 19 of The Punch newspaper and the Commission’s website. Since then, no person, body corporate or financial institution has come forward to show cause why the property should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“That applicant has now filed this Application for the final forfeiture of the Assets to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“That it is expedient and in the best interest of justice to grant this application. And that the respondents will not be prejudiced by the grant of this application.”

After listening to the submissions and considering the documents attached, Justice Dipeolu acceded to the request of the anti graft agency and ordered the final forfeiture of the 36 cars.

The forfeited cars include: a 2017 Model Toyota Rav 4 Ash colour; 2019 Toyota Tacoma Model, silver colour; 2019 Lexus RX 350 Grey Colour, Lexus RX350 Black Colour; 2019 Model 5 FORD FI50 Black Colour; 2018 Model Honda CRV black colour; 2020 Toyota Tacoma black colour; Dodge Black Colour; Land Rover and 2020 Lexus RX 350 Jeep.

Others are a 2016 Toyota 4Runner, black colour; Range Rover, Maroon black; Lexus 460 Saloon black colour; Ford F150 2018 Model, Grey Colour; 2019 Lexus RX 350, Gold colour; 2020 Lexus RX 350, White Colour; 2021 Lexus RX 350 Sport, grey colour; Honda Civic Touring, red colour; Honda Pilot Suv, grey colour; 2020 Range Rover Suv, grey colour; Toyota 4Runner SUV, Ash Colour; Toyota Highlander, Grey Colour and 2018 Toyota Tacoma, Black colour.

The list also includes; Toyota 4Runner white colour; Lexus RX 350 Jeep, white colour; Lexus RX 350 Jeep White colour; 2016 Toyota 4runner, ash Colour; 2019 Toyota Tacoma, gray Colour; 2017 Lexus RX 350 Jeep, white Colour; 2018 Toyota Highlander Jeep black colour; 2018 Honda CRV, Ash Colour; 2006 Toyota Yaris, black colour; 2008 Honda Accord, black colour; 2005 Toyota Camry, Gold colour and 2016 Toyota Corolla, Black colour.

As well as three unclaimed vehicles; Acura MDX Saloon Car, gray colour; 2018 FORD FISO Model, black colour and Ford Model F150, Pickup Ass, white Colour.

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