A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has fixed the September 10 to rule on the final forfeiture to the Federal Government, of some $40m worth of jewellery seized from the home of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo fixed the date on Monday after listening to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), make a case for the permanent forfeiture.
An investigator with the Commission, Rufai Zaki, in an affidavit put before the court, insisted that the jewelries were beyond the former Minister’s “known and provable lawful income.”
The investigator further said that findings by the EFCC showed that she started acquiring the jewellery in 2012, two years after she was appointed Minister.
The investigator also said that the EFCC was in possession of the details of the bank account through which Mrs Alison-Madueke received her salary as a minister.
“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.
He said a “damning intelligence report” received by the Commission led to the search of former minister’s house at No. 10 Fredrick Chiluba Close, Asokoro, Abuja.
The EFCC then invited one Bukola Oyewumi of Trinket Box Bespoke Jewellery who stated that she started selling jewelries to Mrs Allison-Madueke in 2012.
The Commission also obtained the invoices issued in respect of the jewelries she bought.
Apart from this, the EFCC also found that Mrs Alison-Madueke also bought jewellery from one Minal Ratanani of Bella Vista Apartment, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos.
“During questioning, Ratanani admitted that Diezani bought jewellery worth $865,300.00 from her over a period and she paid cash”.
The EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told Justice Oweibo that it was in the best interest of justice for the court to order the permanent forfeiture of the jewellery to the Federal Government.
He said the court was empowered to make such forfeiture order under Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offence Act 2006, because “the respondent’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the properties sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Through her counsel, Nnamdi Awa-Kalu, the former minister maintains that the seizure of the items from her home is unlawful and constitutes a violation of her right to own properties.