Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered the final forfeiture of $40 million worth of jewelries, allegedly recovered from the house of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke.
Justice Oweibo, in his judgment on the application for forfeiture brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), held that the former Minister failed to convince the court on why the properties should not be forfeited to the federal government.
The judge held that Mrs. Allison-Madueke only filed an application to set aside and discharge the interim order of forfeiture earlier made by the court instead of defending herself against the allegations made by the EFCC
LEADERSHIP recalls that Justice Chuka Obiozor had on July 5, 2019, after entertaining an ex-parte application brought before him by EFCC ordered the temporarily forfeiting of the expensive jewelleries to the federal government of Nigeria.
The EFCC had through its Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the judge that the expensive jewelries comprising wristwatches, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, earrings, a customized gold phone and more were reasonably suspected to have being acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities of the former Minister.
According to the schedule attached to the application, the jewellery, categorised into 33 sets, include “419 expensive bangles; 315 expensive rings; 304 expensive earrings; 267 expensive necklaces; 189 expensive wristwatches; 174 expensive necklaces and earrings; 78 expensive bracelets; 77 expensive brooches; and 74 expensive pendants.”
But on September 2, 2919, Mrs. Allison-Madueke through her lawyer, Nnamdi Awa-Kalu, argued a counter application, submitting that the court lacks the jurisdiction to make the order and also asking the judge to set aside the interim order.
Awa-Kalu told the court that the application which was supported with 11 paragraphs affidavit, was pursuant to section 43 and 44 of the Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution and section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and 83 and 84 of the EFCC Act.
He urges the court to refuse the EFCC’s temptation and discharge the interim order place on his client’s items.
However, counsel to the EFCC, Oyedepo urged court to discountenance the former Minister’s application because she had failed to show cause why the items should not be handed over to the government
Oyedepo also argued that the court is empowered by section 17 and 14 of Advance Fee Fraud to hear and determined a case of this nature.
He added that the objections raised by Diezani’s was not an issue, as a case of this nature has been settled in an Appeal court decision in a case between Federal Republic of Nigeria and Patience Jonathan and LA Warri Furniture Limited and some other cases of its nature.
He therefore urged the court to dismiss the respondent’s application and also make an order for final forfeiture of the said items.
In his judgement, Justice Oweibo stated, “the deponent to the affidavit in response to the motion before this court, is not the owner of the properties sought to be forfeited and the deponent did not stated in the affidavit where he got the information contained in the affidavit from.
“On the whole and in the view of the respondent failure to show cause why the properties should not be finally forfeited, the order of final forfeiture is hereby granted. The properties is hereby finally forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria.”