Thursday, February 16, 2017 10:57 pm
By Akin Kuponiyi
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria, today ordered final forfeiture of the sum of 153 million dollars linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke.
Justice Muslim Hassan issued the order while delivering judgment in a suit filed by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking a forfeiture of the funds suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Justice Hassan had on 6th of January 2017, issued an interim order of forfeiture of the sum of 153.3 million dollars to the Federal Government, following an exparte application filed and argued by EFCC seeking interim forfeiture order.
Joined is Mr Dauda Lawal as co -respondent in the suit is one banker Dauda Lawal.
The court also issued 14 days to any interested party to appear and prove the legitimacy of the monies, failing of which the funds would be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria
. However on 24th of January 2017, EFCC counsel Mr Rotimi Oyedepo and Mr Charles Adeogun, representing the respondents respectively argued their originating processes before the court.
Oyedepo had urged the court to make the interim order absolute and order a final forfeiture of the sums to the federal government.
He also urged the court to order the forfeiture of other sums to which no claim had been laid.
In his argument, Adeogun urged the court to issue an order, directing a refund of the sum of N9.08billion to the respondent, on the grounds that same was obtained by coercion.
He argued that before such forfeiture orders can be made, two essential elements must be satisfied namely: “that the property in question is unclaimed, and that such property or funds forms proceeds of an unlawful act.
He then urged the court to order a refund of the sum of N9.08 billion to the Mr Dauda Laws on the grounds that same was obtained by coercion.
Delivering his judgment today, Justice Hassan ordered a final forfeiture of the unclaimed sum of N23. 4 billion and 5 million united states dollars to the Federal government finally.
Hassan said :
“I hereby make an order pursuant to section 17 of the Advanced fee fraud and other fraud related offences Act 2016, for final forfeiture of the unclaimed sum of N23, 426, 300.000.00 billion and 5 million united states dollars to the Federal government finally..
“In respect of the second respondent learned counsel Mr Charles Adeogun, informed the court that the second respondent filed a counter affidavit on why the sum of N9.08 billion should not be forfeited.
“I have carefully examined the affidavit evidence before the court and I find that the second respondent was duly cautioned in English language before his statement was taken and so, I hold that same was taken without any evidence of inducement.
“On the whole I am satisfied that all the conditions stated in section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Related offence Act, was duly fulfilled by the applicant.
“I accordingly make the following orders:
“An order for the final forfeiture of the sum of N23, 426, 300.000.00 billion been unclaimed property, to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“An order of final forfeiture is also made for the sum of N9.08 billion recovered from the second respondent, to the federal government of Nigeria, this is my judgment,” he said
Before judgment, Adeogun had informed the court of two of his pending motions filed on Feb. 3, first, seeking an abridgement of time and secondly for leave to file further affidavits to his counter affidavit were taken dismissed.