N47.2b and $487.5M: Again Former Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison-Madueke

N47.2b and $487.5M: Again Former Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison-Madueke

N47.2 Billion and $487.5 Million in cash and properties have so far been traced to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources in the Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke. This followed painstaking investigations by operatives of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

From time immemorial, precious metals – gold, silver and sparkling stones such as diamonds have delighted women. Relationships have been built and destroyed, wars fought for and reconciliations cemented with gold and precious stones. Not too far back in history, Liberia was the theatre of war over Blood Diamonds.

Unlike Liberia however, the Nigerian nation is not at war. But, it seems Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, until recently, Minister of Petroleum Resources, going by the sheer amount of her acquisition of gold and diamonds, may have been fighting a spirited war against millions of compatriots who are heavily and unevenly yoked by crass poverty. To boot, the former minister is accused of having stolen – in broad daylight – the money that funded her acquisitive binge.

A search of one of Alison-Madueke’s palatial residences in Abuja, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, turned up boxes of gold, silver and diamond jewellery, worth several million pounds sterling.

Apart from the jewellery, the EFCC, Nigeria’s foremost anticorruption agency, has traced N47.2 Billion and $487.5 Million in cash and properties to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources in Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

The former minister who has been in London since the birth of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, has however continued to deny any financial misdeed. She insists she is being severely maligned and persecuted by the EFCC. But, on the strength of weighty evidences placed before Nigerian courts, there are a string of judicial pronouncements ordering the forfeiture of all allegedly ill-gotten wealth to Alison-Madueke’s former employers, the Federal Government of Nigeria.

One of the constitutional requirements to be appointed to public office in Nigeria, is the total declaration of all personal assets. It does seem like that provision was observed more in the breach by Alison-Madueke.

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The EFCC, in the course of investigation, traced another property valued at $37.5m to the former minister in Banana Island, Lagos. She was said to have purchased the 15-storey building, which comprises 18 flats and six penthouses, between 2011 and 2012from the developers, YF Construction and Real Estate. The property was allegedly acquired in the name of a shell company, Rusimpex Limited, which is managed by one Afamefuna Nwokedim, Principal Partner, Stillwaters Law Firm, Lagos.

On August 7, 2017, Justice Chuka Obiozor, a vacation judge sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered the final forfeiture of a $37.5m (N11.75bn) (Eleven Billion, Seven Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) property on Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos allegedly belonging to Diezani Alison-Madueke. The order followed an expatriate application filed on July 17, 2017 by the EFCC.

At the last adjourned sitting on July 19, 2017, counsel to the EFCC, A.B.C. Ozioko, while moving the ex-parte application, had urged the court to order the forfeiture of the total sum of US$2, 740,197.96 and N84, 537,840.70 respectively found by the Commission in Rusimpex USD account No. 1013612486 domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities. Ozioko had also urged the court to order an interim forfeiture of the assets and property.

Ruling on the applications, Justice Obiozor had ordered the respondents- Deziani, Afamefuna Nwokedi and Rusimpex Limited- to show cause within 14 days why the properties should not be forfeited to the Federal Government.

The judge had further ordered the publication of the interim order in any national newspaper for the respondents or anyone who is interested in the property to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of the property should not be made in favour of the Federal Government.

At the resumed hearing on August 7, counsel to the EFCC argued that the failure of the second and third respondent, Nwokedi and Rusimex meant that “they are not willing to contest the application”.

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In his ruling, Justice Obiozor ordered the final forfeiture of the property to the Federal government, in view of the failure of any interested parties or persons to contest the interim forfeiture order as published in a national newspaper by the Commission. The court also ordered the permanent forfeiture of the sums of US$2, 740,197.96 and N84, 537,840.70 respectively realized as rent on the property.

But, by far the most numbing, record-shattering acquisitions of Alison-Madueke, is to be found in the ritzy, nouveaux riches playground of Banana Island, Lagos. It consists of two apartments at the Bella Vista Court. The apartments which are Penthouses, are located on Block C-5, Flat 21, Plot 1, Zone N. For them, a $350 Million (Three Hundred and Fifty Million US Dollar) hole was allegedly dug in the Nigerian treasury on November 22, 2011, by Alison-Madueke.

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