A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Friday fixed September 22 to hear the application for the final forfeiture of four properties in Lagos and Rivers states as well as in Abuja valued at N2.6 billion linked to the former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke and her associates.
Judge Chuka Obiozor, while adjourning the matter, said he would hear applications filed by the third, fourth, and sixth respondents in the suit.
The respondents in the suit are Mrs. Alison-Madueke, Donald Amamgbo and three firms, Chapel Properties Limited, Blue Nile Estate Limited, Azinga Meadowns Limited, and Vistapoint Property Development Limited.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had applied for the forfeiture of the properties and the court had granted an interim forfeiture of the properties at the last sitting on August 22.
The court had also directed the Commission to publish the notice of the interim forfeiture in any national newspaper for the respondents and any other person interested to appear before it and show cause why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Nigerian government.
On Friday, counsel to the respondents, Emmanuel Bassey, told the court there was a pending application requesting that the EFCC should serve the respondents with the ex-parte application which was used to secure the interim order of forfeiture of the said properties so that same can be responded to.
According to Mr. Bassey, the application became imperative following an order by Abdulaziz Anka, the judge who presided over the matter at the last sitting, that the ex-parte application be served on the respondents.
But Anselm Ozioko, counsel to the EFCC, said there was no such order mandating the Commission to serve the ex-parte application on the respondents, arguing that the companies involved have no directors and do not even exist.
“We have obtained an interim order in respect of this suit and the case adjourned till today for report and to also allow the respondents to show cause why the properties should not be finally forfeited,” Mr. Ozioko said.
“But this morning, we were served with a motion on notice by one Mr. Nnamdi Eze Anochie. Therefore, we ask for time to respond and to take the application for final forfeiture.”
On August 22, Justice Anka had ordered that four properties allegedly belonging to the ex-minister be temporarily forfeited to the federal government for being proceeds of corruption.
Justice Anka issued the order while granting an ex-parte application marked FHC/L/CS/1279/17, filed and argued before the court by Mr. Ozioko.
The properties ordered to be temporarily forfeited include 21 mixed housing units of eight numbers of 4-bedroom penthouse apartments; six numbers of 3-bedroom apartments; two numbers of 3-bedroom apartments and one number of 4-bedroom apartments, all ensuite, located at 7, Thurnburn Street, and 5 Raymond Street, Yaba, Lagos, valued at N937 million.
Others include a 16-four bedroom terrace located at Heritage Court Estate, Omerelu Street, Diobu GRA, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, valued at N928 million; a 13-three bedroom with one room maid’s quarters situated at Mabushi Gardens Estate, Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi, Abuja, valued at N650 million; and six flats of three bedrooms and one boys’ quarters, located at Plot 808 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, valued at N805 million.
According to the EFCC, the properties were purchased by the former Petroleum Minister, and her crony, Mr. Amamgbo, through four companies; namely: Chapel Properties Limited; Blue Nile Estate Limited; Azinga Meadows Nigeria Limited; and Vistapoint Property Development Limited.
In an affidavit attached with the ex-parte application, and deposed to by one Sambo Mayana, an investigator with the agency, the EFCC averred that sometime in 2016, an intelligence report was received against both Messrs. Alison-Madueke and Amamgbo, and that upon analysing the intelligence report, a search warrant was executed at the office and premises of Mr. Amamgbo.
The deponent also averred that among the documents recovered from Mr. Amamgbo was an undated report titled ‘Highly Confidential Attorney Work Product- August Report.’
He stated further that the said confidential report contained 18 companies and several properties located in United Kingdom (UK), Nigeria and United State of America (USA).
The EFCC added that in the course of their interview, Mr. Amamgbo had informed the agency that he registered the 18 companies to assist the former petroleum minister, in holding title of the temporary forfeited properties.
The deponent then urged the court to grant the application in the interest of Justice.