Alison-Madueke forfeits $37.5m Banana Island property,others to FG
A Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday ordered a permanent forfeiture of the $37.5m mansion in Banana Island, Lagos linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to the Federal Government.
The court also ordered that the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84, 537, 840.70 realised as rents on the property should equally be forfeited to the FG.Vacation judge, Chuka Obiozor, made the orders following a motion on notice argued before him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The anti-graft agency had on July 19, 2017 obtained a court order to temporarily seize the property designated as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, which is said to have 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses.
The court had directed that the temporary forfeiture order be published in a newspaper and then adjourned till Monday for anyone interested in the property and funds to appear to convince the court why they should not be permanently forfeited to the FG.
Counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Anselem Ozioko, at the proceedings yesterday informed Justice Obiozor that the publication order was complied with.He stated that despite going the extra length to personally serve the respondents in the case, they did not show up in court to contest the forfeiture order.
“In summary, it appears as if they are not willing to contest this application,” Ozioko said, urging Justice Obiozor to go ahead and order the permanent forfeiture of the property and the funds. In a short ruling, Justice Obiozor granted the orders.
“In the face of the publication, which I find in Exhibit B of the affidavit of compliance before me, and there being no responses from any interested party,
I have no other option but to grant the orders as prayed,” he held.
The EFCC had earlier told the judge that the Banana Island mansion was reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities by Diezani.
The anti-graft agency said its investigations revealed that Diezani purchased the property sometime in 2013 at the price of $37.5m, which she paid in cash.
According to the EFCC, the $37.5m was moved straight from Diezani’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? Obviously 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,” Ozioko said.