The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday granted an application for final forfeiture to the government of jewellery reportedly worth $40 million seized from the premises of a former minister for petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The trial judge, Nicholas Oweibo, said Mrs Alison-Madueke had failed to prove that the properties sought to be forfeited were not acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.
“The respondent filed 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,” he said.
“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.”
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Awa Kalu, the counsel representing Mrs Alison-Madueke had argued that “there is no professional evaluation to determine the true value of the property, there is no proof that it was acquired when she was a minister, no proof they were purchased using proceeds of fraud.”
Addressing journalists after the ruling, Nnamdi Kalu, a lawyer representing Awa Kalu said the judgment was delivered on the basis of technicalities and not facts.
“The judge gave the ruling based on the fact that we had not approached the matter the way he felt we should have. It’s not as if we didn’t show cause but it’s all on our approach. I am yet to brief my superiors or our clients, but I can assure you that the judgment was based on technicalities only.”
Last month, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) secured an interim forfeiture of several pieces of jewellery valued at $40 million allegedly belonging to Mrs Alison-Madueke.
The jewellery, comprising bangles, earrings, and wristwatches were recovered from houses traced to the former minister.
The EFCC said the items are “reasonably suspected to have been acquired with and or represent proceeds of the respondent’s unlawful activities.”
Mrs Alison-Madueke is facing multiple charges of money laundering before federal courts in Lagos and Abuja.
She is believed to be in the United Kingdom where she is also being investigated for money laundering.