Court orders permanent forfeiture of Diezani's N14.5 billion assets

Justice Nicholas Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Tuesday ordered the permanent forfeiture of $40 million (N14.5 billion) worth of jewellery and customised gold iPhone belonging to Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Justice Oweibo ordered the permanent forfeiture of the former minister’s assets which include 2,149 pieces of jewellery, a customised gold iPhone, among other assets recovered from her Abuja home.

The details: The judge announced the permanent forfeiture on the ground that Diezani’s lawyer’s, Awa Kalu (SAN), failed to show cause why the items should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

In an affidavit before the court, Rufai Zaki, an investigator with the anti-graft commission, stated that the jewellery was beyond Diezani’s “known and provable lawful income”. Zaki added that findings by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  (EFCC) showed that Diezani started acquiring the jewellery in 2012 after she was appointed a minister.

The EFFC had earlier told the judge that the jewellery and iPhone were reasonably suspected to be acquired with looted funds in the country.

The back-story: Earlier in July, Justice Oweibo gave an interim forfeiture order following an ex parte application filed by the EFCC. In granting the order, Justice Oweibo directed the applicant, EFCC, to publish the interim forfeiture order in any national newspaper within 14 days for the respondent or anyone interested in the items to show cause why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

Alison-Madueke was the only defendant in the application filed by the EFCC pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006.

The items are: Bangles (419); rings (315); earrings (304); necklaces (267); wristwatches(189); necklace and earrings (174); bracelet (78); brooch (77); pendants( 74); necklace(48); necklace, bracelet, earring and ring (44); necklace, earrings and rings (32); pendants and earrings (30) and necklace and bracelet (18).

Others are: Earrings and rings (15); earrings, rings and bracelet (12); cufflinks (11); pendants, earrings and rings (6); single earrings (5); bracelets and earrings (5); necklace and single earrings (3); necklace and rings(3); travel clocks(3); brooch and cufflinks (3); pendants and rings (2); bracelets, earrings and ring (1); bangle and earring (1); necklace, ring and bracelet (1); bangle, ring and brooch(1); necklace, earring and two bracelets( 4); bangle and ring (1); brooch and earring (1) necklace and two pairs of earrings (3) and customized Gold iphone (1)

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