Diezani loses Banana Tower, $2.7m to Federal Govt
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered permanent forfeiture to the Federal Government of a $37.5m skyscrapper on the highbrow Banana Island, Lagos, belonging to former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The Presiding Judge (Professor) Chuka Obiozor, also ordered that the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84, 537,840.70 realised as rents on the property should also be forfeited to the Federal Government.
Justice Chuka Obiozor made the order following a motion on notice argued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s counsel (EFCC).
The anti-graft agency had on July 19, 2017, obtained a court order to temporarily seize the property located at Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, which is said to have 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses.
The court directed that the temporary forfeiture order be published in a newspaper and then adjourned for anyone interested in the property and funds to appear. He or she would have to convince the court why the seized items should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Anselem Ozioko, told the court that the publication order had been complied. He however, stated that no one has contested the forfeiture order.
“In summary, it appears as if they are not willing to contest this application,” Ozioko said.
He urged Justice Obiozor to go ahead and order the permanent forfeiture of the property and the funds. In a short ruling, Justice Obiozor granted the orders.
The judge held, “In the face of the publication, which I find in Exhibit B of the affidavit of compliance before me, and there being no responses from any interested party, I have no other option but to grant the orders as prayed.”
The EFCC had earlier told the judge that the property was reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities by Diezani.
The property is a 15-storey building, which comprises 18 flats and six penthouses