The Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday adjourned till September 22 hearing of an application for final forfeiture of 58 houses allegedly belonging to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
She allegedly bought the houses between 2011 and 2013 for $21,982,224 million (N3, 320,000,000 billion).
Listed as first to sixth respondents in the suit are – Mrs. Alison-Madueke, Donald Chidi Amamgbo and four firms – Chapel Properties Limited, Blue Nile Estate Limited, Azinga Meadows Limited and Vistapoint Property Development Limited.
Justice Chuka Obiozor adjourned to enable the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) respond to an objection filed by one of the respondents.
The Commission’s lawyer, A. Ozioko said: “We have obtained an interim order in respect of this suit and the case was adjourned till today (Friday) 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. We ask for time to respond and to take the application for final forfeiture.”
Justice Obiozor granted the prayer for an adjournment.
Justice Abdulaziz Anka, who sat as a vacation judge before Justice Obiozor took over, ordered the interim forfeiture of the properties on August 22 following an ex parte application filed August 16 by the EFCC.
He authorised the EFCC to appoint a firm to manage the properties and gave the respondents 14 days to show cause why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The judge directed the agency to publish the order in any national newspaper and adjourned till Friday.
Ozioko told Justice Anka that Mrs. Alison-Madueke paid $16,441,906 (N2.6billion) cash in several tranches and another $5,540318 (N840,000,000) cash for the properties through four ‘front’ firms which held the titles in trust for her.
He listed the firms as Chapel Properties, Blue Nile Estate, Azinga Meadows and Vistapoint Property Development.
Ozioko said the Commission had discovered 14 other firms incorporated for the ex-minister for the purpose of holding the titles to those properties.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke, he added, purchased the properties from the proceeds of suspected unlawful activity during her stint as minister.