A Federal High Court in Lagos has again ordered that 56 buildings linked to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and her associates be temporarily forfeited to the federal government
The buildings located in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Rivers States and valued at N3.320 billion, were alleged to be proceeds of corruption.
The court presided over by Justice AbdulAziz Anka gave the order Thursday while granting an ex-parte application filed and argued before the court by the lawyer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Anselm Ozioko.
Respondents in the suit are Alison-Madueke, Mr. Donald Chidi Amamgbo, Chapel Properties Limited, Blue Nile Estate Limited, Azinga Meadows Limited, and Vistapoints Property Development Limited.
The properties ordered to be temporarily forfeited to the federal government include 21 mixed housing units of eight numbers of four-bedroom penthouse apartments; six numbers of three-bedroom apartments; two numbers of three-bedroom apartments; and one number of a four-bedroom apartment, all en suite and located at 7 Thurnburn Street and 5 Raymond Street, Yaba, Lagos valued at N937 million.
Other properties include 16 numbers of four-bedroom terraces located at Heritage Court Estate, Omerelu Street, Diobu GRA, Port Harcourt, Rivers State valued at N928 million.
Also included in the latest property haul were 13 numbers of three-bedroom terraces, with one-room maid’s quarters, situated at Mabushi Gardens Estate, Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi, Abuja, valued at N650 million; and six flats of three bedrooms and one-room boy’s quarters, located at Plot 808 (135) Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, valued at N805 million.
The EFCC alleged that the properties were purchased by the former minister and her cohort, Mr. Donald Chidi Amamgbo, through four companies, namely: Chapel Properties Limited, Blue Nile Estate Limited, Azinga Meadows Nigeria Limited, and Vistapoint Property Development Limited.
The EFCC, in an affidavit attached to the ex-parte application and deposed to by Sambo Muazu Mayana, an investigator with the agency, averred that sometime in 2016, an intelligence report was received against both Alison-Madueke and Amamgbo, and upon analysing the report, a search warrant was executed at the office and premises of Amamgbo.
The deponent also averred that among the documents recovered from Amamgbo was an undated report titled: “Highly Confidential Attorney Work Product – August Report.”
He stated further that the said “highly confidential report” contained 18 companies and several properties located in the United Kingdom, Nigeria and United States of America, adding that in the course of the interview with Amamgbo, he told the EFCC that he had registered the 18 companies to assist Alison-Madueke hold title of the temporarily forfeited properties.
He further stated that investigations into the ownership of the said properties indicated that FBN Mortgages Limited was the last owner of three of the properties.
The deponent also stated that payments for the properties were received by FBN Mortgages at various times from 2011 to June 16, 2015.
He added that FirstBank of Nigeria Limited stated in a letter that the source of the monies were from Alison-Madueke and that the bank picked up US dollars from her house located at 10, Frederick Chiluba Close, off Jose Martins Street, Asokoro, Abuja, and that the sum of $3,342,307 was credited into FBN Mortgages’ account number 2008133531.
He also stated that FirstBank, in its extra-judicial statement made by its Head of Public Sector Group, also confirmed that the sum of N840 million, equivalent of $5,540,318, transferred to Skye Bank by one Adeyemi Edun, was picked up on May 23, 2011 from Alison-Madueke’s house at 10, Fredrick Chiluba Close, off Jose Marti Street, Asokoro, Abuja, and same was transferred on her instruction to Skye Bank in favour of Adeyemi Edun on the same day.
The deponent urged the court to grant the application in the interest of justice.
Justice Anka, after listening to Ozioko’s submission, ordered that the listed properties be forfeited temporarily to the federal government.
He also ordered the EFCC to appoint a competent person(s) or firm to manage the temporarily forfeited assets/properties.
The judge directed EFCC to notify the respondents in whose possession the assets/properties were kept, to appear before the court and show cause within 14 days why the properties should not be forfeited to the federal government.
Justice Anka also directed the EFCC to make the publication of the interim order in a national newspaper for the respondents, so that anyone who is interested in the properties can appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture of the properties should not be made in favour of the federal government.