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Appeal Court affirms forfeiture of Diezani’s $40m jewellery to FG

The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, yesterday affirmed the forfeiture of a $40 million worth of jewellery belonging to former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison- Madueke, to the federal government. This was sequel to the dismissal of an appeal filed by the embattled former minister challenging the forfeiture order by Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court in 2019. In dismissing the appeal, the appellate court held that there was no substance in Alison- Madueke’s bid to overturn the lower court’s order.

The court affirmed the 2019 judgment of Justice Oweibo which forfeited the jewellery following a motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The appellate court gave its judgment in an appeal filed by Alison-Madueke marked as Appeal No CA/L/1263/19 between DIEZANI ALISON MADUEKE and the EFCC. The anti-graft agency had on July 5, 2019 secured an order of the high court temporarily forfeiting the expensive items to the federal government. However, on July 19, 2019, Justice Oweibo granted the EFCC’s motion for final forfeiture of the jewellery. In his application for the final forfeiture order, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, had told the judge that the items were reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities of the former minister.

An investigator with the Commission, Rufai Zaki, who deposed to an affidavit in support of the motion for final forfeiture had also averred that the jewellery were beyond the former minister’s “known and provable lawful income.” The investigator further said that findings by the EFCC showed that she started acquiring the jewellery in 2012, two years after she was appointed minister. The investigator also said that the EFCC was in possession of details of the bank account through which Alison- Madueke received her salary as a minister. On her part, the former minister challenged the seizure of the jewellery from her premises by the EFCC. In an affidavit filed on her behalf by her lawyer, Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN), the former minister, who is currently in the United Kingdom, alleged that the EFCC violated her fundamental “right to own property and to appropriate them at her discretion,” under sections 43 and 44 of the Constitution. She also accused the anti- graft agency of entering her apartment illegally and taking the items without any court order.

 

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