By Lukman Olabiyi
Justice Abdulaziz Anka of the Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday ordered temporary forfeiture of another set of properties allegedly linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
In an ex parte application filed on August 16 and argued before the court yesterday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), 56 houses were allegedly bought between 2011 and 2013 for $21,982,224 million (N3.3billion) by the former minister.
Justice Anka, who was sitting as a vacation judge, in his ruling, ordered EFCC to appoint a firm to manage the properties and gave the respondents 14 days to show cause why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Besides, the judge directed the commission to publish the order in any national newspaper and adjourned till September 8.
First to sixth respondents in the suit are Diezani, Donald Chidi Amamgbo and four firms, Chapel Properties Limited, Blue Nile Estate Limited, Azinga Meadows Limited and Vistapoint Property Development Limited.
According to EFCC the application was brought pursuant to sections 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud related offences Act 2006 and Section 44(2)(k) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), sought and obtained a temporary transfer of the property to the federal government.
EFCC’s counsel Mr. Anselem Ozioko, who argued the application, told Justice Anka that Diezani paid $16,441,906 (N2.6 billion) cash in several tranches and another $5,540318 (N840,000,000) cash for the properties through four ‘front’ firms which held the titles in trust for her.
Ozioko said the commission had discovered 14 other firms incorporated for the ex-minister for the purpose of holding the titles to those properties.
He alleged that Diezani purchased the properties from the proceeds of suspected unlawful activity during her tenure as minister.
The houses including 29 terraced houses comprising eight four-bedroom penthouse apartments, six three-bedroom apartments, two three-bedroom maisonettes, two twin bedroom apartments, one four-bedroom apartment among others and houses No. 7, Thorbone Street and 5, Raymond Street, Yaba, allegedly bought by Diezani for the US dollar equivalent of N937,000,000 through Chapel Properties Ltd, among others.