Abuja — A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered permanent forfeiture of 56 houses allegedly belonging to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, to the federal government.
The houses include four buildings valued at $16.041,906 (about N2.6bn) located in Lagos State, Rivers State and Abuja.
The court headed by Justice Abdul-Azeez Anka ordered that the assets, which are suspected to be proceeds of corruption, be permanently forfeited to the federal government.
The judge gave the order after hearing an application to that effect brought before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The properties ordered to be taken over by the government are 21 mixed housing units of eight numbers of four bedrooms penthouse apartment; six numbers of three bedrooms apartments; two numbers of three bedrooms apartment and one numbers of four bedrooms apartment, all en-suit, located at 7, Thurnburn Street, and 5 Raymond Street, Yaba, valued at N937 million.
Another property, 16-four bedrooms terrace located at Heritage Court Estate, Omerelu Street, Diobu GRA, Port-Harcourt in River State, is valued at N928 million.
Another 13-three bedrooms with one room maid's quarter situated at Mabushi Gardens Estate, Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi, Abuja, is valued at N650 million.
Four companies, Chapel Properties Ltd, Blue Nile Estate Ltd, Azinge Meadows Ltd and Vistapoint Property Development were allegedly used to acquire the properties.
The anti-graft agency listed all four companies as respondents alongside the former minister and her acquaintance, Donald Amamgbo.
While ruling on the application, the judge held that there was no response to the applicant's motion on notice for final forfeiture by any of the respondents despite being served with the hearing notice.
Justice Anka ruled thus: "I have gone through the affidavit attached to motion for final forfeiture as well as the submissions of the EFCC's counsel, A. B. C. Ozioko.
"The court has no option considering the un-controvertible evidence filed by the EFCC than to grant the application. The motion for final forfeiture is accordingly granted as prayed. All parties have a right of appeal".
In an affidavit filed in support of the application, the EFCC stated that it received an intelligence report sometime in 2016 against one Donald Chidi Amamgbo and the former Petroleum minister.
The commission said it conducted a search warrant at the premises and offices of Mr Amamgbo and recovered an undated report titled, "Highly Confidential Attorney Work Product-August Report".
The report allegedly contains a list of 18 companies and several properties located in the United Kingdom, Nigeria and the USA.
According to the EFCC, during the course of investigations, Mr. Amamgbo claimed that he registered the 18 companies to assist Mrs. Alison-Madueke in holding titles of certain properties.
The legal head of EFCC's Lagos Office, Mr. Anselem Ozioko, also told the court that some documents from First Bank of Nigeria Plc confirmed to the commission that payment for all the properties were at the instance of Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
He prayed the court to order the forfeiture of the assets, as the EFCC believes they were procured with proceeds of corruption.