Court orders final forfeiture of former minister Diezani’s $40m jewelleries
Nigeria’s Former Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Allison-Madueke will forfeit her $40m worth of pieces of jewellery to the Nigerian government, a Federal High Court in Lagos ruled on Tuesday.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo ruled that the Maduake had failed to show cause why the jewelleries should not be forfeited after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had filed that jewelleries were reasonably suspected to have being acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities of the former Minister.
The expensive items include wristwatches, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, earrings, a customized gold phone, EFCC’s counsel Rotimi Oyedepo disclosed.
An investigator with the Commission, Rufai Zaki, in an affidavit put before the court insisted that the jewelleries were beyond the former Minister’s “known and provable lawful income.”
She started acquiring the jewellery in 2012, two years after she was appointed minister, EFCC said in its findings.
The investigator also said that the EFCC was in possession of the details of the bank account through which 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.
Maduake had challenged the seizure of the pieces of jewellery from her premises by the anti-graft agency claiming that EFCC violated her fundamental “right to own property and to appropriate them at her discretion,” under sections 43 and 44 of the constitution.
In an affidavit filed on her behalf by her counsel, Prof Awa Kalu (SAN), Diezani, also accused the anti-graft agency of entering her apartment illegally and taking the items without any court order.
EFCC on July 5, 2019, secured an order of the court to temporarily forfeit the expensive jewelries to the Federal Government.
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