BEVERLY HILLS, September 10, (THEWILL) – The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture of jewellery found in the home of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.
In a ruling on Tuesday, Justice Nicholas Oweibo ordered that the jewellery worth $40m should be finally forfeited to the Federal Government saying the former minister had failed to show cause why the jewellery should not be forfeited.
In his application for the final forfeiture order, Counsel to the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Oyedepo had told the judge that the expensive jewellery comprising wristwatches, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, earrings, a customized gold phone and more were reasonably suspected to have being acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities of the former minister.
An investigator with the Commission, Rufai Zaki, in an affidavit put before the court said the items were beyond the former minister’s “known and provable lawful income.”
“The respondent did not utilise her salary or any part of her legitimate income to acquire the assets sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Zaki said.
The EFCC had on July 5 secured an order of the court temporarily forfeiting the jewellery to the Federal Government but Diezani had challenged the seizure of the jewellery from her premises by the EFCC.
In an affidavit filed on her behalf by her counsel, Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN), Diezani, who is currently in the United Kingdom, alleged that the EFCC violated her fundamental “right to own property and to appropriate them at her discretion,” under sections 43 and 44 of the constitution.
She also accused the anti-graft agency of entering her apartment illegally and taking the items without any court order.