Asset Forfeiture: Court To Hear Alison-Madueke’s Suit Against EFCC Oct 23

A Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed October 23 to hear a suit filed by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, challenging the order obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for final forfeiture of her seized assets.

Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date after her counsel Benson Igbanoi, and EFCC’s counsel, regularised their processes in the suit.

The anti-corruption agency had planned to conduct a public sale of all the assets seized for being proceeds of crime as ordered by courts to be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The auctioning exercise, conducted on the seized assets believed to include Diezani’s property, started on January 9.

She was alleged to have escaped to the United Kingdom and remained there after her exit from public office as the petroleum minister, an office she held between 2010 and 2015 under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

But the ex-minister, in her suit, sought an order extending the time within which to seek leave to apply to the court for an order to set aside the EFCC’s public notice issued to conduct the public sale on her property.

The former minister, who argued that the various orders were made without jurisdiction, said these “ought to be set aside”.

She said she was not given fair hearing in all the proceedings leading to the orders.

She argued that she was neither served with the charge sheet and proof of evidence in any of the charges nor any other summons howsoever and whatsoever in respect of the criminal charges pending against her before the court.

She further argued that the courts were misled into making several of the final forfeiture orders against her assets through suppression or non-disclosure of material facts.

But the EFCC, in a counter affidavit deposed to by Rufai Zaki, a detective with the commission, urged the court to dismiss her application.

The EFCC operative, who said he had seen the ex-minister’s motion, said most of the depositions were untrue.

He said contrary to her deposition in the affidavit in support, most of the cases which led to the final forfeiture of the contested property “were action in rem, same was heard at various times and determined by this honourable court.”

He said the courts differently ordered the commission to do a newspaper publication inviting parties to show cause why the said property should not be forfeited to the Federal Government before final orders were made.

Mr Zaki argued that one Nnamdi Awa Kalu represented the ex-minister in reaction to one of the forfeiture applications.

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