Federal High court orders the final forfeiture of Diezani’s $37.5m Banana Tower
The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered that a $37.5m mansion on Banana Island, Lagos linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
It also ordered that the sums of sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70 realised as rents on the property should equally be forfeited to the government.
The orders were made on Monday by Justice Chuka Obiozor, following a motion on notice argued before him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The anti-graft agency had on July 19, 2017, obtained a court order to temporarily seize the property designated as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, which is said to have 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses.
The court had directed that the temporary forfeiture order be published in a newspaper and then adjourned till Monday for anyone interested in the property and funds to appear to convince the court why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
At Monday’s proceedings, the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Anselem Ozioko, told Justice Obiozor that the publication order had been complied with.
He, however, noted that despite going the extra length to personally serve the second and third respondent in the case, Afamefuna Nwokedi, and a company, Rusimpex Limited, they did not show up in court to contest the forfeiture order.
“In summary, it appears as if they are not willing to contest this application,” Ozioko said, urging Justice Obiozor to go ahead and order the permanent forfeiture of the property and the funds.
In a short ruling, The judge held, “In the face of the publication, which I find in Exhibit B of the affidavit of compliance before me, and there being no responses from any interested party, I have no other option but to grant the orders as prayed.”
The EFCC had earlier told the judge that the Banana Island manson was reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities by Diezani.
The anti-graft agency said its investigations revealed that Diezani purchased the property sometime in 2013 at the price of $37.5m, which she paid in cash.