Crime

Court orders forfeiture of houses worth $4.760m linked to Diezani

…Unfreezes 16 accounts belonging to Patience

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered that two penthouses linked to Diezani Alison-Madueke, the embattled former Minister of Petroleum, be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun ordered that two properties: Penthouse 21, Building 5, Block C, 11th Floor (Bella Vista Estate), Banana Island, Ikoyi, and Penthouse 22, Block B (Admiralty Estate), also in Ikoyi, Lagos, be forfeited to the Federal Government, pending the conclusion of the investigation.

She gave the order on Tuesday while granting an ex-parte application for interim forfeiture of the said properties.

The application was filed before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), through its lawyer, Anslem Ozioko.

The EFCC, in the application marked FHC/L/CS/1793c/17, prayed the court for an interim forfeiture order of the court of the said buildings to the Federal Government.

The case has Diezani Alison-Madueke, Donald Amagbo, Schillenburg LLC, and Sequoyah Property Limited as respondents.

The anti-graft commission also requested the court for an order prohibiting any disposal, conveyance, mortgage, lease, sale or alienation or otherwise of the said assets/properties, as they were suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.

The EFCC requested for an order authorising it to appoint a competent person(s)/firms to manage the said two properties.

The EFCC, in an affidavit deposed to by one of its investigators, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated that during an investigation into the ownership of the two properties, YF Construction Development, and Real Estate Limited, said that the firm’s Deputy Managing Director, one Fadi Basbous, volunteered extra-judicial statement, wherein he stated that the two properties were sold at $3.570 million, and $1.194 million, and owned by Sequoyah Properties Limited, and Schillenburg LLC.

According to the deponent, the payment for the Penthouse 22, Block B, 8 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, and Penthouse 21, Building 5, Block C, 11th Floor, Plot 1, Zone N, FGN Layout, Banana Island, Ikoyi, were made by Angela Jide-Jones and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited, respectively.

He added that the said Angela Jide-Jones is the wife of Jide Omokore, while the said Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited is registered and promoted by Jide Omokore.

He said Jide Omokore paid for the properties through his wife, Angela, and one of his companies, and directed the developers (seller) of the properties to sign the agreements with Schillenburg LLC and Sequoyah Properties Limited, both of which are linked to Diezani Alison-Madueke.

He also stated that Schillenburg LLC was registered in Hong Kong, and transferred on March 30, 2012 to Donald Chidi Amamgbo as sole owner, while Sequoyah Properties Limited was registered in Nigeria on October 11, 2011, with the fictitious names of Chukwudima Nwako and Olisa Eloka, as shareholders and directors.

He added that Donald Chidi Amamgbo stated in his extra-judicial statement that he incorporated Schillenburg LLC and submitted same to Diezani Alison-Madueke for a transaction.

Justice Olatoregun, after listening to the prayers of the EFCC counsel, granted the application and ordered that the two properties be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government.

She also prohibited any disposal, conveyance mortgage, lease, sale or alienation of the said properties.

Court Unfreezes 16 Accounts Belonging To Patience Jonathan

Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Abuja Division has set aside its order made on May 30 freezing 16 accounts belonging to Patience Jonathan.

Justice Binta Nyako withdrew the order on Tuesday on the grounds that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which secured the freezing order failed to conduct its investigation into the alleged infractions involving the 16 accounts.

The court’s decision followed an application by the counsel to Patience Jonathan asking the court to set aside an ex-parte motion filed by the EFCC for continued control of the accounts.

The lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, described EFCC’s motion as an abuse of court process.

Ozekhome said that the court had ordered the EFCC to conduct its investigation within 90 days of freezing the accounts in May, but that the commission failed to carry out the said investigation.

“The judge, Justice Binta, had given the EFCC 90 days within which to investigate and prosecute parties involved in the allegations but they never did that. So we asked the court to set aside the interim forfeiture order. The judge set aside the order granted on May 30,” Ozekhome said.

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