Court orders forfeiture of Diezani’s Ikoyi estate, ex-minister paid $37.5m cash for property; cash stacked in her Abuja home
Justice Chuka Obiozor-led Federal High Court has ordered the interim forfeiture of an estate in Banana Island, Lagos reportedly bought for $37.5m in 2013 by ex-minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
According to papers presented before the court on Wednesday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the property, designated as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, has 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses.
The court sitting in Lagos also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70, said to be part of the rent collected on the property, and allegedly found in a Zenith Bank account number 1013612486.
The judge gave the order following an ex parte application brought before him by a counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Anselem Ozioko, who said the prosecution “reasonably suspected that the property was acquired with proceeds of alleged unlawful activities of Diezani.”
He disclosed that investigations by the EFCC revealed that Diezani made the $37.5m payment for the purchase of the property in cash, adding that the money was moved straight from her 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 doubts because, as of the time this happened, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke was still in public service as the Minister of Petroleum Resources,” Ozioko told the court.
The ex parte application taken before the judge was filed pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, No. 14, 2006 and Section 44(2)(k) of the Constitution.
Listed as respondents in the application were Diezani; a legal practitioner, Afamefuna Nwokedi; as well as a company, Rusimpex Limited.
After listening to the EFCC lawyer on Wednesday, Justice Obiozor made an order temporarily seizing the property and the funds, directing that the order be published in a national newspaper.
The judge then adjourned the case till August 7, 2017 for anyone interested in the property and funds to appear before him.