Justice Abdul-Azeez Anka of a Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the permanent forfeiture of 56 houses situated in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja valued at $21, 982, 224 (about N3.3 billion) allegedly linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke to the Federal Government.
The houses were allegedly bought between 2011 and 2013 by the former minister from proceeds of suspected unlawful activity during her tenure in office.
The forfeited property includes: 21 mixed housing units of 8 numbers of four bedroom penthouse apartment; six numbers of three bedroom apartments; two numbers of three bedroom apartment and one number of four bedroom apartment, all ensuite and located at 7, Thurnburn Street and 5 Raymond Street, Yaba, valued at N937 million and bought through Chapel Properties Ltd.
Others are: 16 numbers of four bedroom terrace, located at Heritage Court Estate, Omerelu Street, Diobu GRA, Port Harcourt, River States, valued at N928 million and bought through Blue Nile Estate Ltd; 13 numbers of 3 bedroom with one room maid’s quarter, situated at Mabushi Gardens Estate, Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi, Abuja, valued at N650 million and bought through Azinga Meadows Ltd and six flats of three bedroom and one boys quarter, located at Plot 808 (135) Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, valued at N805 million and bought through Vistapoint property Development Ltd.
The order made on Wednesday was sequal to the granting of a motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the permanent forfeiture of the property.
The motion was brought pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006, Section 44 (2) (B) of the Constitution and the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
The anti-graft agency while urging the court to grant the motion argued that the property sought to be attached are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
Having listened to the submissions of EFCC’s lawyer, Anselem Ozioko, Justice Anka granted the motion as prayed.
In granting the motion, the judge noted that there was no response to the applicant’s motion on notice for final forfeiture by any of the respondents despite been served with the hearing notice.
“I have gone through the affidavit attached to a motion for final forfeiture as well as the submissions of the EFCC’s counsel, A. B. C. Ozioko. The court has no option considering the incontrovertible evidence filed by the EFCC than to grant the application. The motion for final forfeiture is accordingly granted as prayed. All parties have a right of appeal”, Justice Anka held.
The judge had on August 22 while granting an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC ordered the interim forfeiture of the houses to the Federal Government.
In granting the application, the judge directed the anti-graft agency to publicize the order in a national daily. He also authorized the commission to appoint a firm to manage the property and gave the respondents two weeks to show cause why the property should not be permanently forfeited to the government.
Joined as respondents in the suit are: Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke (1st respondent), Donald Chidi Amamgbo (2nd respondent), Chapel Properties Limited (3rd respondent), Blue Nile Estate Limited (4th respondent), Azinga Meadows Limited (5th respondent) and Vistapoint Property Development Limited (6th respondent)