A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered the final forfeiture of properties in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to the federal government.
The court, presided over by Justice Austin Chuka Obiozor, made the order for the final forfeiture of the said property, while granting an application brought before him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The said properties are located at Plot 9, Azikiwe Road, Old GRA Port Harcourt and UAC Property, Force Avenue, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Justice Obiozor had on April 14, 2019, granted an interim forfeiture of the said properties, after granting the EFCC’s ex-parte application.
While granting the ex-parte application, Justice Obiozor, had ordered the EFCC to publish the said order in a national newspaper, for Alison-Madueke or any other interested party or persons to show cause while the properties would not be finally forfeited to the federal government.
At the resumed bearing of the matter yesterday, EFCC lawyer, Mr. Ebuka Okongwu, informed the court that the order of the court had be duly obliged and that the said interim order had been published in a national newspaper of April 15, 2019.
He also informed the court that till day, nobody or parties came to file any counter to the application.
He also told the court that the application for the final forfeiture of the said property to the federal government, was pursuant to section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud. He therefore urged the court to grant the application.
However, Donald Chidi Amangbo and Sequoyah Properties Limited, who are the second and third respondents in the suit respectively, filed a counter to the application through their lawyer, but told the court that they are not opposing the application for final forfeiture of the property.
The lawyer however informed the court that he had filed a counter-affidavit dated June 7, 2019, without any exhibit and written address to the application.
He also told the court that he left the court to decide on the application.
Delivered ruling on the application, Justice Obiozor held: “Sequel to the order of interim forfeiture of order granted in consistence with the Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, 2014, the court directed the applicant to publish the order in a national newspaper, especially in Port-Harcourt and Lagos, the idea is to afford any parties fair hearing. “I see that the order is complied with in the applicant’s exhibit EFCC 22, attached with the motion on notice for final forfeiture.
“I also know that by the consequence of the publication, the second and third respondents filed a counter, showing that they are only concerned but not opposed the final forfeiture of the properties. In the absence of no any counter from the respondents, I have no reason not to grant this application.
“Upon careful appraisal of the applicant’s motion on notice for final forfeiture before me, I found that the properties of the respondents constitute a proceed of unlawful act.
“The second and third respondents are not challenging the application and the first respondent opted out of the proceeding.
“The applicant (EFCC) has discharged the burden of prove on it, consequently, the prayer of the applicant is succeed.
“The order of this court for final forfeiture of Plot 9, Nnamdi Azikwe Road, Port-Harcourt GRA and UAC Property, Force Avenue, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, as shown in schedule through the applicant’s motion on notice for final forfeiture order dated 9th May, 2019, to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”