Justice Abdulaziz Anka of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has ordered the permanent forfeiture of 56 houses allegedly owned by former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke to the federal government of Nigeria.
The assets, with an estimated value of N3 billion, had been on temporal forfeiture to the federal government following an ex parte order obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The 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 houses, located at 7 Turnbull Street and 5 Raymond Street, Yaba, were allegedly bought by Mrs. Alison-Madueke for the United States dollar equivalent of N937m through Chapel Properties Ltd.
Other seized houses are 16 four-bedroom terraced houses in Heritage Court Estate, Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu, Government Residential Area (GRA) Phase 1 Extension, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, purchased for N928m through Blue Nile Estate Ltd.
The EFCC claimed that Mrs. Alison-Madueke paid $21,982,224 for the properties, adding that it believed that the funds were proceeds of crime.
The anti-graft agency listed the properties to include 29 terraced houses comprising eight four-bedroom penthouse apartments, six three-bedroom apartments, two three-bedroom marionettes, two twin bedroom apartments and one four-bedroom apartment.
Justice Anka had earlier ordered temporal forfeiture of the properties on August 23 and ordered the commission to publish the interim forfeiture order in a national newspaper and adjourned till September 8, 2017 for any party interested in the properties to appear before the court to state why the temporary forfeiture order should not be made permanent.
Listed as first to sixth respondents in the suit are Mrs. Alison-Madueke, Donald Amamgbo, and four firms – Chapel Properties Limited, Blue Nile Estate Limited, Azinga Meadows Limited, and Vistapoint Property Development Limited.
In an affidavit filed in support of the ex parte application, an EFCC investigator, Sombori Mayana, said the EFCC got wind of the properties in 2016 following the execution of a search warrant on the office and premises of Amamgbo, said to be Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s acquaintance.
The investigator averred, “Among the documents recovered from the office of Mr. Donald Chidi Amamgbo was an undated report that contained a list of 18 companies and several properties located in the United Kingdom, Nigeria and the United States of America.
“During the course of his interview, Mr. Donald Amamgbo told us that he registered the 18 companies to assist Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke in holding titles of the properties.”
Mr. Mayana averred that a principal manager and Head of Business Development of FBN Mortgages Ltd., Bolanle Onotu, confirmed that the properties were sold by her organization to Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s alleged four proxy firms for N937m, N928m and N650m and received payment through First Bank account numbers 2004483850 and 2008133531 between September 23, 2011 and June 16, 2015.
“First Bank of Nigeria Plc stated that the source of the money was Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and that the bank picked up United States dollars from her house at 10 Frederick Chiluba Close off Jose Marti Street, Asokoro, Abuja,” Mr. Mayana added.