ustice Abdulaziz Anka of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the permanent forfeiture of some houses purportedly owned by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The house located in Lagos and Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital have a market value of about N3 billion, and were said to have been acquired by Mrs Alison-Madueke between 2011 and 2013 using front companies.
The court order is sequel to an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which claimed that the houses, about 56 in number, were paid for with proceeds of crime.
Aside Diezani, who is the first respondent in the case, other respondents are Donald Chidi, Chapel Properties Limited, Blue Nile Estate Limited, Azinga Meadows Limited, and Vistapoint Company Limited.
The refusal of the respondents to tender any counter affidavit to the anti-graft commission’s motion as well as their absence when the court sat on the matter on Wednesday, left the trial judge with no other option than to rule that the properties be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
EFCC lawyer, Anselum Ozioko, in a motion on notice dated September 14 and filed same day in the court had prayed for the final forfeiture of the asset and properties.
Among other things, he claimed that the motion was sequel to Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act 2006 and 44(2B) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended).
Ruling on the matter, Justice Anka observed that despite the defendants’ lawyers being in the know of continuation of hearing in the matter, that they were absent in court. He added that the development suggested that the defendants have abandoned the case.
He therefore granted EFCC’s payers that the properties be permanently forfeited.
“A motion exparte is not binding to be served by the Prosecuting Counsel except otherwise stated by the court’ so the Application is struck out.
“I have also read the prayers of the prosecuting counsel and having gone through all the exhibits presented with the failure of the defense counsels to appear, it shows they have abandoned the case despite being aware of the case for today. The prayers of the Applicants (EFCC) on final forfeiture is hereby granted,” he ruled.
The properties include 21 mixed housing units of eight four-bedroom (en-suite) terrace units, two three-bedroom (en-suite) penthouse apartments, six three-bedroom (en-suite) apartments, two three-bedroom (en-suite) maisonette, two two-bedroom (en-suite) apartments, and one four-bedroom (en-suite) apartment, all located at 7 Thurnburn Street and 5 Raymond Street Yaba, Lagos and registered in the name of Chapel Properties Limited and were valued at N937 million; and in Heritage Court Estate in Overall Street, Diobu Government Residential Area Phase 1 Extension, Port Harcourt in Rivers State, valued at N928 million
Others are 16 four-bedroom terrace house, 13 three-bedroom terrace house with a one-room maid’s quarters en-suite per unit; located in Mabushi Gardens Estate Plot 1205 Canasta Zone B06, Abuja and valued at N650 million; and six flats of 3-bedroom and one boys quarters each, lawn tennis court, gym, matured garden and its appurtenances, located in Plot 808 (135) Awolowo Road, Ikoyi Lagos and valued at N805 million.
As revealed by court documents, the properties are said to be worth about N3.4 billion (N3,451,592,199).
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