Diezani: Court adjourns hearing on final forfeiture of $40 million jewellery

Diezani Allison-Madueke, Nigeria's Minister of Petroleum. [Photo: ynaija.com]
Diezani Allison-Madueke, Nigeria's Minister of Petroleum. [Photo: ynaija.com]

A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Thursday adjourned till September 2 the final forfeiture hearing on the money laundering suit against former petroleum minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in July secured an interim forfeiture order on hundreds of jewellery valued at $40 million allegedly belonging to Mrs Alison-Madueke.

The EFCC said it believes the jewellery are proceeds of suspected unlawful activities.

The temporarily forfeited items include over 419 bangles, 315 rings, 304 earrings, 189 wristwatches, 267 necklaces, and a customised gold iPhone.

At the last court hearing, Mrs Alison-Madueke defended her ownership of the items and accused the EFCC of violating her privacy by entering her apartments without a court order.

When the matter was called on Thursday, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the Judge Nicholas Oweibo that he had just been served a counter affidavit by the defence and would need time to respond.

According to Mr Oyedepo, an adjournment would ensure that all responses to the application can be entertained at the same time by the court and necessary ruling delivered.

A representative of Awa Kalu, counsel to the defendant, also informed the court that they would appreciate an adjournment as the chamber’s resources are currently overstretched.

The judge granted their request for an adjournment.

An adjournment to September 2, was subsequently granted by Mr Oweibo.

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.

In her filings before the court in Lagos at the last adjourned date, Mrs Alison-Madueke said the EFCC violated her fundamental “right to own property and to appropriate them at her discretion” under sections 43 and 44 of the Nigerian Constitution.

The application was filed by Awa Kalu, a professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on behalf of the former minister.

She said the federal court lacked the jurisdiction to have granted the July 5 interim forfeiture order because she had not been charged with any crime or served summons by the EFCC.

Mrs Alison-Madueke also said the temporary forfeiture order was prejudicial because she was denied fair hearing.

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