A Federal High Court Lagos on Wednesday ordered the temporary forfeiture of a $37.5 million property on Banana Island, Lagos, and millions of naira and dollars belonging to ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.
The property, situated on the island, was allegedly purchased in 2013 by Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
The house is at 3, Block B, Bella Vista, Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island, Foreshore Estate.
The judge, Chuka Obiozor, issued the temporary forfeiture orders following an ex parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The ex parte application was brought pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, No. 14, 2006 and Section 44 (2) (k) of the Constitution.
Joined as respondents in the motion are Allison-Madueke, a legal practitioner, Afamefuna Nwokedi, and a company — Rusimpex Ltd.
According to the court processes presented by EFCC counsel, Anslem Ozioko, the property includes 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses.
Apart from the property, the court also ordered a temporary forfeiture of the sums of $2.7 million and N85 million said to be part of rents collected on the property.
Mr. Ozioko told the court on Wednesday that the EFCC reasonably suspected that the property was acquired with proceeds of alleged unlawful activities of Mrs. Allison-Madueke.
He said investigations by the EFCC revealed that Mrs. Allison-Madueke made the payment of $37.5 million in cash for the purchase of the property.
He added that the money was moved straight from her house in Abuja and paid into the seller’s bank account in Abuja.
Mr. Ozioko said the commission was convinced beyond doubts as Mrs. Allison-Madueke was still in public service as the Petroleum Minister when the transaction occurred.
In a 41-paragraph affidavit annexed to the ex parte motion, the commission said Mr. Nwokedi connived with Mrs. Allison-Madueke to purposely incorporate the company — Rusimpex Ltd on Sept. 11, 2013 to perpetrate the alleged fraud.
The commission said when it questioned Mr. Nwokedi, the lawyer, he explained that he had approached Mrs. Allison-Madueke for opportunities in the oil and gas industry, adding that the ex-minister in the alternative asked if he could manage landed properties, an offer which Mr. Nwokedi accepted.
It said Mr. Nwokedi later registered the company (Rusimpex Ltd) and listed Adetula Ayokunle, and a Russian, Vladmir Jourauleu, as the directors of the company.
According to the commission, when Mr. Ayokunle was interrogated by the EFCC, he explained that he only appended his signature on the documents on his boss’ instruction, while Mr. Jourauleu denied knowledge of the company.
After listening to the EFCC counsel, Justice Obiozor made an order of temporary forfeiture of the property and the funds.
He also directed that the orders should be published in a national newspaper.
Mr. Obiozor adjourned the case until August 7 for any interested party to appear before him and show cause why the orders should not be made absolute.