The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the temporary forfeiture of 58 houses linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The houses, located in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, were said to have been acquired by the ex-minister between 2011 and 2013 using front companies.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission claimed that Diezani paid $21,982,224 for the properties, adding that it believed that the funds were proceeds of crime.
The anti-graft agency listed the properties to include 29 terraced houses comprising eight four-bedroomed penthouse apartments, six three-bedroomed apartments, two three-bedroomed maisonettes, two twin-bedroomed apartments and one four-bedroomed apartment.
The houses, located at No. 7, Thurnbull Street and 5, Raymond Street, Yaba, were allegedly bought by Diezani for the United States dollar equivalent of N937m through Chapel Properties Ltd.
Other seized houses are 16 four-bedroomed terraced houses in Heritage Court Estate, Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu, Government Residential Area (GRA) Phase 1 Extension, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, purchased for N928m through Blue Nile Estate Ltd.
The properties also include 13 three-bedroomed terraced houses with one-room maid’s quarters ensuite for N650m through Azinga Meadows Ltd.
In an ex parte application brought before Justice Abdulaziz Anka on Tuesday by its counsel, Mr. Anselem Ozioko, the EFCC urged the judge to order the temporary forfeiture of the properties to the Federal Government.
The judge granted the temporary forfeiture order and directed that a firm should be appointed to manage the properties.
He also ordered the EFCC to publish the interim forfeiture order in a national newspaper and adjourned till September 8, 2017 for any party interested in the properties to appear before the court to state why the temporary forfeiture order should not be made permanent.
Listed as first to sixth respondents in the suit are Diezani, Donald Amamgbo, and four firms – Chapel Properties Limited; Blue Nile Estate Limited; Azinga Meadows Limited; and Vistapoint Property Development Limited.
Ozioko told the court that Diezani used the companies as fronts for the acquisition of the properties, adding that the anti-graft agency had discovered 14 other firms incorporated for the ex-minister for the purpose of holding the titles to those properties.
Diezani, he added, purchased the properties from the proceeds of suspected unlawful activity during her tenure as minister.
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