Justice Akintayo Aluko of a Federal High Court, Lagos today (Friday 26th March 2022) ordered the final forfeiture of a vacant plot of land situated at Plot 13, Block I, Oniru Chieftaincy Family Private Estate, Lekki, Lagos, linked to Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former Nigeria Petroleum Minister.
Justice Aluko’s order of final forfeiture of the property was sequel to the application for such order which was filed by the Head of Legal Section of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ansalem B. Ozioko, but moved and argued by Mr Abbas Mohammed, a Legal Officer in the Commission.
Justice Babs Kuewuni had on 15th May 2018, granted interim forfeiture of the said property.
In making the final forfeiture order of the property, Justice Aluko held that: “this is an enrollment of order.
“Upon this motion on notice dated 17th February 2022 coming’ before this Honourable Court on the 25th day of March 2022, praying the court for the following reliefs; a final order forfeiting the properties /assets listed and – described in the schedule herein to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“And for such further orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.
“Upon reading affidavit in support of the motion paper sworn to by Babana Job, of EFCC of 15A Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos State.
“And the court having heard A.O. Mohammed Esq, for the Plaintiff/ Applicant moved the application praying the court to grant the reliefs sought as endorsed on the motion paper.
“It is hereby ordered as follows, “That a final order is hereby granted forfeiting the property/asset listed and described in the schedule herein to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The EFCC had listed Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke, a Nigeria lawyer, Donald Chidi Amamgbo and MEZ Group LLC, as respondents in the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/811/2018.
Justice Babs Kuewuni, who formerly presided over the case had sometimes in 2018, granted interim forfeiture of the said land upon reading the affidavit in support of the motion paper sworn to by AbdulRasheed Bawa, now the Chairman of the Commission, which was argued and moved by Mr Anselem B. C. Ozioko.
As part of Justice Kuewumi’s order to the EFCC was to notify the persons in whose possession the properties sought to be forfeited are found to appear before the court and show cause within 14 days why the properties should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The order also directed the EFCC to publish in any newspaper details of the Interim Order for persons in whose possession the properties sought to be forfeited are found or anyone interested in the properties sought to be forfeited to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture of the properties mentioned in the relief 1 should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In asking the court for final forfeiture of the said land, the EFCC, through one of its investigators, Babana Job, in an affidavit in support of the motion stated that sometime in 2016, a Search Warrant was executed at the office and premises of Mr Donald Chidi Amamgbo (second Defendant in the suit) and a known acquaintance of the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke (First Defendant).
The investigator stated that among the documents recovered from the office of Second Defendant was an undated report titled: “Highly Confidential Attorney Work Product August Report”. The said report contained a list of 18 companies and several properties located in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Nigeria. He said the Commission extended an invitation to the Second Defendant has been unable to locate the First Defendant in respect of the discoveries during the search. The Second Defendant honoured the invitation extended to him and upon his report, he was confronted with the “Highly Confidential Attorney Work Product August Report” and in the course of the interview, he told the agency that he registered the 18 companies, including the Third Defendant to assist Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke (First Defendant) in holding titles of her properties and that all the properties belong to her.
The deponent stated that as part of investigative procedures, the Commission wrote and dispatched letters of investigation activities to Oniru Chieftaincy Family Property Company (Oniru), individuals, organisations and financial institutions. Replies were received and analysed. He added that based on the findings of the investigation, the EFCC commenced an action to forfeit the vacant plot at plot 13 Block Il, Oniru Chieftaincy Family Private Estate, Lekki, Lagos State. And that the court in a considered ruling granted an Interim order of forfeiture against the Plot 13, Block Il, Oniru Chieftaincy Family Private Estate, Lekki, Lagos State to the Federal Government of Nigeria. A copy of the interim order is herewith attached and marked as exhibit EFCC 28.
He also averred that in compliance with the court order as contained in exhibit EFCC 28, the Interim Order of the court was published in The Nation Newspaper Vol. No. 4404 Monday, August 20, 2018, as ordered by the court, and that no person or party has shown or signified interest to ‘show cause’ against the Interim Order of the court, which necessitated the present application for the final forfeiture order of the court.
He stated that it is of utmost public interest and concern and in the interest of justice to grant this application.