Federal High Court orders forfeiture of Diezani’s 56 houses

Diezani Alison Madueke

A Federal High Court in La­gos has ordered the inter­im forfeiture of 56 hous­es worth $21,982,224 million (N3.320 billion).allegedly ac­quired by former Minister of Pe­troleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, between 2011 and 2013.

Justice Abdulaziz Anka made the order on Tuesday following an ex-parte application filed on Au­gust 16, 2017 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commis­sion (EFCC).

Anka authorised the EFCC to appoint a firm to manage the property and gave the respond­ents 14 days to show cause why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Govern­ment.

He also directed the agency to publish the order in any nation­al newspaper and adjourned the case till September 8, 2017.

The EFCC through the ap­plication, brought pursuant to Sections 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Fraud-relat­ed Offences Act 2006 and Sec­tion 44(2)(k) of the 1999 Consti­tution (as amended), sought and obtained a temporary transfer of the property to the Federal Gov­ernment.

Listed as first to sixth re­spondents in the suit are Dieza­ni, Donald Chidi Amamgbo and three firms, Chapel Properties Limited, Blue Nile Estate Lim­ited, Azinga Meadows Limited and Vistapoint Property Devel­opment Limited.

EFCC counsel, Mr. Anse­lem Ozioko, told Justice Anka that Diezani paid $16.449mil­lion (N2.6billion) cash in several tranches and another $5.540mil­lion (N840million) cash for the property through four “front” firms which held the titles in trust for her.

He listed the firms as Chapel Properties, Blue Nile Estate, Azin­ga Meadows and Vistapoint Prop­erty Development.

Ozioko said the commission had discovered 14 other firms in­corporated for the ex-minister for the purpose of holding the titles to the property.

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Diezani, he added, bought the houses from the proceeds of sus­pected unlawful activities during her tenure as minister.

The agency described the property as including 29 terraced houses comprising eight four-bedroom penthouse apartments, six three-bedroom apartments, two three-bedroom maisonettes, two twin bedroom apartments and one four-bedroom apart­ment.

The houses, located at No. 7, Thurnbull Street and 5, Ray­mond Street, Yaba, were alleged­ly bought by Diezani for the US dollar equivalent of N937,000,000 through Chapel Properties Ltd.

Others are 16 four-bedroom terraced houses in Heritage Court Estate, Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu, Government Residen­tial Area (GRA) Phase 1 Exten­sion, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, bought for N928million through Blue Nile Estate Ltd.

She also allegedly bought 13 three-bedroom terraced houses with one-room maid’s quarters ensuite for N650million through Azinga Meadows Ltd.

The commission also stat­ed that Diezani paid N805mil­lion through Vistapoint Proper­ty Development Ltd for six flats of three bedrooms and one boys’ quarters each, a lawn tennis court, gym and “matured garden”.

According to an affidavit in support of the application by an EFCC investigative officer, Mr. Sombori Mayana, EFCC got wind of the housesin 2016 following its execution of a search warrant on the office and premises of Dieza­ni’s acquaintance, Mr. Donald Chidi Amamgbo.

Mayana said: “…among the documents recovered from the of­fice of Mr. Donald Chidi Amamg­bo was an undated report titled: ‘Highly Confidential Attorney EOTK Product – August Report’.

“The report contained a list of 18 companies and several houses located in the United Kingdom, Nigeria and the United States of America.

“During the course of his in­terview, Amamgbo told us that he registered the 18 companies to as­sist Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke in holding titles of the property.”

Mayana averred that a prin­cipal manager and head, business development of FBN Mortgages Ltd, Mrs. Bolanle Onotu, con­firmed that the mansions were sold by her organisation to Dieza­ni’s alleged four proxy firms for N937million, N928million and N650million and received pay­ment through First Bank ac­count numbers 2004483850 and 2008133531 between September 23, 2011 and June 16, 2015.

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“First Bank of Nigeria Plc…stated that the source of the mon­ey was from Mrs Diezani Ali­son-Madueke and that the bank picked up United States’ dollars from her house at 10, Freder­ick Chiluba Close, off Jose Mar­ti Street, Asokoro, Abuja,” Maya­na said.

He said a total of $16.041mil­lion was picked up by the bank at Diezani’s house between Septem­ber 29, 2011 and April 4, 2013 and converted to Naira.

According to Mayana, an­other firm, Adebern Parks Nige­ria Ltd received N802,500,000 in its Zenith Bank account from an Ecobank account for the purchase of some of the properties.

One Mr. Adeyemi Edun “re­ceived N840million from Skye Bank Plc which on his instruction transferred the sum of N805mil­lion to his Eco Bank account from where he paid Adebern Parks for the property,” he said.

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