Court Fixes Date To Hear Final Forfeiture Of Diezani’s $40m Jewellery

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed September 2 for further hearing in the application seeking the final forfeiture of $40million worth of jewellery from the premises of the former minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.

The application was brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Nicholas Oweibo granted the adjournment at the instance of all the parties in the case.

Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo told the judge that he had just been served a counter affidavit by the defense and would need time to respond.

According to Mr Oyedepo, “an adjournment will ensure that all responses to the application can be entertained at the same time by the court and necessary ruling delivered.”

Mrs Allison-Madueke’s counsel also agreed to the request for an adjournment. He told the court that he was from the Law Firm of Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN) and that the firm would appreciate an adjournment as their resources are currently overstretched.

Justice Oweibo subsequently adjourned the case to September 2.

At the last sitting of the court on August 19, the Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, had challenged the seizure of $40million worth of jewelleries from her premises by the EFCC.

In an affidavit filed on her behalf by her counsel, Prof Awa Kalu (SAN), Diezani, 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 the anti-graft agency of entering her apartment illegally and taking the items without any court order.

On July 5, 2019, The Economic and Financial Crime Commission EFCC  had secured an order of the court temporarily forfeiting the expensive jewelleries to the Federal Government.

The EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, in an exparte application, made before Justice Nicholas Oweibo told the court that the expensive jewelries comprising wristwatches, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, earrings, a customized gold phone and more were reasonably suspected to have being acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities of the former Minister.

According to the schedule attached to the application, the jewellery, categorised into 33 sets, 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.”

Oyedepo l said “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 granting the interim forfeiture order on July 5, the court adjourned till August 19 for Diezani or anyone interested in the jewellery and gold iPhone to appear before it to give reasons why the items should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

But in an application filed on her behalf by Kalu (SAN), Diezani, contended that the court lacked jurisdiction to have granted the interim forfeiture order in the first place as she had not been charged with any crime or served with any summons by the EFCC.

She stressed that the entry into her apartment by EFCC operatives was illegal as it was without a court order.

The lawyer added that the temporary forfeiture order was prejudicial to Diezani because she was denied fair hearing.

The application, could however not be argued today as Prof. Kalu was unable to come to court.

A lawyer from his chambers, Chukwuka Obidike, told the court that the SAN was engaged in election petitions, and asked the court to grant an adjournment.

The court has adjourned the case till August 29.(channelstv)

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