A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the permanent forfeiture to the FG of a $37.5million Banana Island property bought in 2013 by former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
A vacation judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, made the order yesterday following a motion on notice argued by EFCC. The judge also ordered that $2.7m and N84.5m realised as rent on the property be permanently forfeited to the government.
Justice Obizor, on July 19, directed the EFCC to temporarily seize the property designated as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, FG Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, consisting of 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses.
The court directed that the temporary forfeiture order be published in a newspaper and adjourned till yesterday for anyone interested in the property and funds to appear and convince it why they should not be permanently forfeited.
During proceedings yesterday, EFCC counsel Anselem Ozioko told Justice Obiozor that the publication order had been complied with. He noted that despite going the extra length to personally serve the second and third respondents in the case Afamefuna Nwokedi and a company, Rusimpex Limited, they did not show up in court to contest the forfeiture order.
The EFCC had earlier told the judge that the Banana Island property was reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities by Mrs. Alison-Madeueke.
The anti-graft agency said its investigations revealed that she bought the property sometime in 2013 for $37.5m, which she paid in cash. According to the EFCC, the $37.5m was moved straight from the former minister’s house in Abuja and paid into the seller’s First Bank account in Abuja.
“Nothing could be more suspicious than someone keeping such huge amounts in her apartment. Why was she doing that? To avoid attention. We are convinced beyond reasonable doubt because as of the time this happened, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke was still in public service as the Minister of Petroleum Resources,” the EFCC lawyer, Ozioko, had told Justice Obiozor.