Friday, September 8, 2017 5:24 pm
By Akin Kuponiyi
A Federal High Court sitting at Ikoyi, Lagos State, south west Nigeria, today fixed 22 September 2017, to hear the application for the final forfeiture of four properties across Lagos and River States, and Abuja, valued at N2. 6 billion, linked to the former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke and her associates.
The said application was filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to get the properties finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Prior to the fixing of the date, counsel to the respondents, Emmanuel Bassey told the Presiding vacation judge, Chuka Obiozor that there was a pending application requesting that the EFCC should serve the respondents with the exparte application which was used to secure the interim order of forfeiture of the said properties so that same can be responded to.
Bassey further contended that the request became imperative sequel to an order made by the another vacation judge, Justice Abdul Aziz Anka of the same court, wherein he declared that the exparte application be served on the respondents.
But counsel to the anti-graft agency, ABC Ozioko stated that there was no such order mandating the commission to serve the exparte application on the respondents, argued that the companies involved have no directors and does not even exist.
Ozioko added that, “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.
“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 22 August 2017, Justice Anka had ordered that four properties scattered across Lagos and River States, and Abuja, valued at N2. 611 billion, linked Allison-Madueke and her associates 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 counsel to the anti-graft agency, Ozioko.
Respondents in the suit are: Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke; Mr. Donald Chidi Amamgbo; Chapel Properties Limited; Blue Nile Estate Limited; Azinga Meadows Limited; and Vistapoints Property Development Limited.
The properties ordered to be temporarily forfeited to the Federal government of Nigeria are: 21 mixed housing units of 8 numbers of four bedrooms penthouse apartment; six numbers of three bedrooms apartments; two numbers of three bedrooms apartment and one numbers of four bedrooms apartment, all ensuit, located at 7, Thurnburn Street, and 5 Raymond Street, Yaba, valued at N937 million.
A 16-four bedrooms terrace property, located at Heritage Court Estate, Omerelu Street, Diobu GRA, Port-Harcourt, River State, valued at N928 million.
Another 13-three bedrooms structure with one room maid’s quarter, 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 quarter, located at Plot 808 (135) Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, lagos., valued at N805 million.
It was the position of the commission that the properties were purchased by the former Petroleum Minister and her crony, Mr. Donald Chidi 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 Sambo Muazu Mayana, an investigator with the agency, the EFCC averred that sometimes in 2016, an intelligence report was received against both Diezani and Amamgbo, and that upon analysing the intelligence report, a search warrant was executed at the office and premises of Amamgbo.
The deponent also averred that among the documents recovered from Amamgbo was an undated report tltled “Highly Confidential Attorney Work Product- August Report”.
He stated further that in the said ‘highly 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 interview, 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.
Justice Anka after listening to Ozioko’s submission, ordered that the above listed properties in the interim be forfeited to the Federal Government.
He also ordered EFCC to appoint a competent person(s) or firm to manage the temporary forfeited assets/properties.
Justice Anka also directed EFCC to notify the respondents in whose possession the assets/properties sought to be forfeited are found to appear before the court and show cause within 14 days why the properties should not be forfeited to the FGN.
Justice Anka also directed EFCC to make the publication of the interim order in a National newspaper for the respondents and anyone who is interested in the properties to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture of the properties should not be made in favour of the Federal Government.