A federal High Court, Lagos has granted the application for final forfeiture of $40million worth of jewellery allegedly belonging to former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo in his ruling yesterday held that the respondent failed to prove that the items in question were not acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.
“The respondent filed an affidavit to set aside instead of showing cause. In showing cause, the respondent ought to place before the court sufficient evidence that the property is not a proceed of unlawful activities.
“I am of the view that the respondent failed to show cause why the property should not be forfeited, therefore I am granting the application,” the judge stated.
The presiding judge had, on July 5, 2019, granted the interim forfeiture following an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Oweibo had also directed parties in the suit to show cause why the jewellery should not be forfeited to the Federal Government.
However, counsel to the respondent, Nnamdi Awa-Kalu, filed a motion on notice praying for the setting aside of the order.
In the application, the lawyer also claimed that his client, Allison-Madueke, was a successful businesswoman in the oil and gas sector, who had acquired the property through legitimate means as well as gifts.
But the attorney to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, argued that the items were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime, as the respondent failed to show how they were acquired.
He equally submitted that “ it is an unlawful activity for a public officer to receive gifts as a result of what was done or not done.”
Oyedepo, therefore, urged the court to discountenance the application and forfeit the objects to government.
Besides, the Acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Ibrahim Magu, yesterday disclosed that a collaboration between the commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) codenamed “Operation Rewired” had led to the recovery of $169,850 and N92 million from suspected internet fraudsters.
He added that the operations also resulted in the arrest of 167 Nigerians and recovery of four exotic cars, plots of land and choice properties in Lagos and Abuja.
Magu made the disclosure while addressing a joint media briefing in Lagos.
He spoke through the agency’s Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar Abba.
Also speaking, the Legal Attaché of FBI office in Nigeria, Uche Ahmadi, stated that the organisation received 20,373 Business Email Compromise and Email Account Compromise (BEC/EAC) complaints with losses of more than $1.2 billion.