EFCC seeks permanent forfeiture of Diezani’s N14bn jewellery

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday appealed to the Federal High Court in Lagos to order a permanent forfeiture of the 2,149 pieces of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone, valued at N14 billion ($40 million), recovered from the Abuja home of a former minister of petroleum resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
It would be recalled that the court had, on July 5, 5019 granted the EFCC interim forfeiture of the items said to have been recovered in homes traced to Alison-Madueke.
The court had, on July 5, 5019 granted the EFCC interim forfeiture of the items said to have been recovered in homes traced to Alison-Madueke.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo who made the order after granting an ex parte motion application brought before him by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, also ordered the anti-corruption agency to publish the forfeiture order in five national newspapers.
During the hearing on the final forfeiture on Monday, the EFCC said it had scrutinised Alison-Madueke’s salary account as a former minister and had discovered that she could not have afforded the items with proceeds from legal earnings.
In an affidavit deposed to by EFCC investigator, Mr. Rufai Zaki, the agency insisted that the items were beyond the former minister’s “known and provable lawful income”.
“The respondent did not utilise her salary or any part of her legitimate income to acquire the assets sought to be forfeited to the government of Nigeria,” he said.
He recalled that the defendant was appointed as minister of petroleum resources on April 12, 2010.
He said investigation revealed that the former minister started acquiring the jewellery in 2012 from one Bukola Oyewumi of Trinket Box Bespoke Jewellery at Ikeja City Mall, Alausa.
He said the EFCC was in possession of the details of the UBA account through which the minister received her salary as minister.
“The respondent did not utilise her salary or any part of her legitimate income to acquire the assets sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The investigator also said a “damning intelligence report” received by the EFCC led to the search of Alison-Madueke’s house at No. 10 Fredrick Chiluba Close, Asokoro, Abuja.
He said they invited Oyewumi and she made a statement, saying she started selling jewellery to Diezani in 2012.
According to Zaki, Oyewumi also made available to the EFCC the invoices issued in respect of the jewellery in which ‘Aunty D’ was written as the buyer.
He said they also discovered that apart from Oyewumi, the ex-minister also bought jewellery from one Minal Ratanani of Bella Vista Apartment, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos.
He said Ratanani also admitted during questioning by the EFCC that Alison-Madueke bought jewellery worth $865,300.00 from her over a period and she paid cash.
EFCC counsel, Oyedepo, said it was in the best interest of justice for the court to order a permanent forfeiture of the jewellery and the iPhone to the federal government.
He said the court was empowered to make such forfeiture order under Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offence Act 2006, because “the respondent’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the properties sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria”.
But the defendant, through her counsel, Mr. Nnamdi Awa-Kalu, insisted that the seizure of the items would amount to a violation of her client’s constitutional right to own property.
Oweibo adjourned the matter till September 10, 2019 for ruling.

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