Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday ordered the interim forfeiture of some expensive jewelries valued at about $40 million which were recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from a house allegedly belonging to a Former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo ordered that the seized 2,149 pieces of jewelries and a customised gold iPhone be temporarily forfeited to the federal government hearing a motion exparte application brought before him by the counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo.
In the application, the EFCC says the expensive jewelries comprising wristwatches, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, earrings and more were reasonably suspected to have being acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities of the former Minister.
The application, titled action in rem, had Diezani as the only defendant and it was filed pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Offences Act No. 14, 2006.
According to the EFCC, it found and recovered the jewelries and the customised gold iPhone on the premises of the former Minister.
The anti-graft agency in the schedule attached to the application, categorised the recovered jewelries into 33 sets, which include “419 expensive bangles; 315 expensive rings; 304 expensive earrings; 267 expensive necklaces; 189 expensive wristwatches; 174 expensive necklaces and earrings; 78 expensive bracelets; 77 expensive brooches; and 74 expensive pendants.”
The commission alleged that “the respondent’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the properties sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
After the submission by Oyedepo, Justice Oweibo ordered that the 2,149 pieces of jewelries and the customised gold iPhone should be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government.
The judge ordered the anti-graft agency to publish the forfeiture order in a national newspaper “for the respondent or anyone who is interested in the property sought to be forfeited to appear before this honourable court to show cause within 14 days why a final forfeiture order of the said properties should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
HE then adjourned the matter till August 23 for further proceedings.
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