By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has urged the Federal High Court In Abuja not to vacate the interim forfeiture order it placed on 19 properties linked to the immediate-past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Maduke.
The anti-graft agency said it traced the properties the ex-Minister bought in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States of America through the help of an Executive Director in First Bank Nigeria Limited, Mr. Dauda Lawal.
It alleged that Lawal helped Diezani to transfer funds to the UK for the purchase of some real estate properties in London.
EFCC prayed the court to sustain the order of interim forfeiture which Justice Binta Nyako granted on June 29, 2016, with respect to the 19 properties.
The agency was reacting to an application asking the court to lift the order on the premise that it was wrongly made.
An oil mogul, and two companies had in a motion dated January 10, 2017, challenged the interim forfeiture order pertaining to the properties in the UK and the US.
The applicants maintained that some of the properties which the court ordered forfeited were theirs and not Diezani’s as alleged by the EFCC.
The applicants listed properties they were interested in to include the ones at 5 Park View; 83 – 86 Prince Albert Road; St. John Wood, all in London NW8 7RU, UK; as well as 270-17 Street, Unit 4204, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
However, EFCC, while opposing the application, described the oil mogul as a top contractor at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, while Diezani held sway Petroleum Minister.
It alleged that the mogul single-handedly contributed $60million out of the $115m the ex-Minister allegedly provided for bribing of some electoral officers that participated in the 2015 general elections.
EFCC maintained that the mogul was the alter ego of the two companies, which were registered abroad.
It said he was being investigated for Petroleum subsidy fraud.
The Nigerian properties affected by the interim order were said to be in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.