The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the permanent forfeiture of 58 houses linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Justice Abdulaziz Anka made the permanent forfeiture order in favour of the Federal Government, pursuant to an application filed before him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The Diezani’s houses, located in Lagos and Port Harcourt, were said to have been acquired by the ex-minister between 2011 and 2013 using front companies.
The EFCC claimed that Diezani paid $21,982,224 for the properties, adding that it believed that the funds were proceeds of crime.
The anti-graft agency had on August 22, 2017 obtained an interim order forfeiting the properties temporarily.
Justice Anka, who made the order, had directed the EFCC to publish it in a national daily to give anyone interested in the properties, the opportunity to come before him to show cause why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
At the Wednesday’s proceedings, the EFCC lawyer, Anselem Ozioko, told Justice Anka that the court order had been complied with.
He said the respondents were also served with a motion on notice, adding that proof of service was before the court.
“Having done all this, we have not received any counter-affidavit from them challenging their motion. The affidavit filed by the second respondent is not, in any way, challenging the application. We urge the court to grant our application,” Ozioko said.
Ruling, Justice Anka held that since the forfeiture application was not challenged, he had no other option but to grant it.
The judge held that “There is no response to the motion on notice of the applicant herein as the records show. The only document in the court’s file is the motion filed by the firm of Babajide Koku’s Chambers since 7th September, 2017 seeking an order of court for the applicant to serve them an earlier motion already heard and granted since August 2017.
“…The motion seems to have been abandoned by the respondents. In the circumstance the motion is accordingly struck out.”
The EFCC listed the forfeited properties to include 29 terraced houses comprising eight four-bedroomed penthouse apartments, six three-bedroomed apartments, two three-bedroomed maisonettes, two twin bedroomed apartments and one four-bedroom apartment.
The houses, located at No. 7, Thurnbull Street and 5, Raymond Street, Yaba, were allegedly bought by Diezani for the United States dollar equivalent of N937,000,000 through Chapel Properties Ltd.
Others seized houses are 16 four-bedroomed terraced houses in Heritage Court Estate, Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu, Government Residential Area (GRA) Phase 1 extension, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, purchased for N928,000,000 through Blue Nile Estate Ltd.
The properties also include 13 three-bedroomed terraced houses with one-room maid’s quarters ensuite for N650,000,000 through Azinga Meadows Ltd.