Court Orders Permanent Forfeiture of Diezani $40m Jewellery to FG
By Adedapo Adesanya
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the permanent forfeiture of the 2,149 pieces of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone, valued at $40 million, recovered from the Abuja home of Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources.
In Tuesday’s ruling, Justice Nicholas Nicholas Oweibo held that Mrs Alison-Madueke, through her lawyer, Mr Awa Kalu (SAN), failed to give a concrete reason why the items should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had told the judge that the jewellery and iPhone were reasonably suspected to be acquired with proceeds acquired from fraudulent means.
The anti-graft agency claimed the former minister, who is also in for other corruption-related enquiries, did not acquire the jewellery with any part of her legitimate income at the time.
The minister, who served as Minister of Petroleum Resources between 2010 and 2015, has been faced with a series of corruption allegations including the alleged diversion and distribution of N23 billion allegedly in a bid to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election in favour of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Following the seizure, Mrs Alison-Madueke said the EFCC violated her fundamental right to own property.
This would not be first time the minister would be faced with such court injunction. In 2015, the EFCC obtained court rulings that ordered the forfeiture of properties and funds linked to the former minister.
Also, in 2017 Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court, Lagos ordered the permanent forfeiture of N7.6 billion linked to Mrs Alison-Madueke.
The same Justice Obiozor, in a separate suit, also ordered the permanent forfeiture of a $37.5 million Banana Island mansion linked to the former minister.
In addition to the building, the court also ordered the permanent forfeiture of the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70 realised as rents on the property.
Since 2015, Mrs Alison-Madueke has been resident in the United Kingdom where she faces a separate probe for alleged bribery, corruption and money laundering.