A federal high court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the permanent forfeiture to the federal government of $40 million worth of jewellery seized from Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s former minister of petroleum resources.
At the resumed hearing of the case, the presiding judge, Nicholas Oweibo, ruled that Dieziani failed to show cause why the jewellery should not be permanently forfeited to the government.
The court had earlier ordered the temporary forfeiture of the assets following an ex parte application filed by Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
But Diezani, in an application challenging the decision by her cousel Awa Kalu, urged the court to order a return of the seized assets as the EFCC entered her apartment illegally and ceased the items without any court order.
The EFCC, however, argued through their lawyer, Oyedepo, that the jewellery was suspected to have been acquired with “proceeds of unlawful activities”.
In an affidavit before the court, Rufai Zaki, an investigator with the anti-graft commission, said the jewellery was beyond Diezani’s “known and provable lawful income”.
According to Zaki, Diezani started acquiring the jewellery in 2012 after she was appointed a minister.
He said, “The respondent did not utilise her salary or any part of her legitimate income to acquire the assets sought to be forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria.”