Story By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court, Lagos, today, granted an order of final forfeiture of the $40 million jewelries belonging to the former Nigeria’s Minister of petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Justice Oweibo made the order of final forfeiture of the said jewelries while delivery judgement in a motion filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In granting the final forfeiture order, Justice Oweibo held that Mrs. Allison-Madueke instead of showing cause why the properties should not to be finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, only filed an application to set aside and discharge the earlier interim order of forfeiture made by the court on July 5, 2019.
It would be recalled that Justice Oweibo had on July 5, ordered the temporary forfeiture of the jewelries following an exparte application brought before the court by the EFCC through its lawyers Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo and U. U. Buhari.
In the application, the EFCC had alleged that the $40 USD jewelries and other items are product of unlawful activities.
These items include over 419 bangles, 315 rings, 304 earrings, 189 wristwatches, 267 necklaces, and a customised gold iPhone.
On September 2, Mrs. Allison-Madueke’s lawyer, Nnamdi Awa-Kalu, argued an application challenging court’s jurisdiction for making interim forfeiture order and urged the court to set aside the interim order.
Awa-Kalu told the court that the application which was supported with 11 paragraphs affidavit, was pursuant to section 43 and 44 of the Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution and section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and 83 and 84 of the EFCC Act.
He urges the court to refuse the EFCC’s temptation and discharge the interim order place on his client’s items.
But lawyer to the EFCC, Oyedepo urged court to discountenance Diezani’s application to set aside the interim order, as the former Nigeria’s Minister of petroleum had failed to show cause while the items should not finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Oyedepo also told the court that its vested and empowered by section 17 and 14 of Advance Fee Fraud to hear and determined a case of this nature.
He added that the objections raised by Diezani’s was not an issue, as a case of this nature has been settled in an Appeal court decision in a case between Federal Republic of Nigeria and Patience Jonathan and LA Warri Furniture Limited and some other cases of its nature.
He therefore urged the court to dismiss the respondent’s application and also make an order for final forfeiture of the said items.
At the resumed hearing of the natter today, Justice Oweibo after citing several authorities of appellant court, held that instead of the respondent (Mrs. Allison-Madueke) to show cause why the properties should not be finally forfeited, she only filed a motion to set aside the interim order.
“The deponent in the affidavit of the motion is not the owner of the properties sought to be forfeited and the deponent did not stated in the affidavit where he got the information from.
“On the whole and in my view of the respondent failed to show cause why the properties should not be finally forfeited, the order of final forfeiture is hereby granted. The properties is hereby finally forfeited to the Federal government of Nigeria.”