By Innocent Anaba
LAGOS—A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, ordered the final forfeiture of the property at Port-Harcourt, Rivers State linked to the former Minister of Petroleum, Dr. Diezani Allison-Madueke, to the Federal Government.
Trial judge, Justice Austin Chuka Obiozor, made the order of final forfeiture of the said property, while granting an application brought before him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The said property is located at Plot 9, Azikiwe Road, Old GRA Port Harcourt and UAC property, Force Avenue, Port-Harcourt in Rivers State.
Justice Obiozor had on April 14, 2019, granted an interim forfeiture of the said property, after granting the EFCC ex-parte application.
At the resumed bearing of the matter, yesterday, EFCC lawyer, Mr. Ebuka Okongwu, informed the court that the order of the court had been duly obliged and that the said interim order had been published in a national newspaper on April 15, 2019.
However, Donald Amangbo and Sequoyah Properties Limited, who are the second and third respondents in the suit respectively, filed a counter application through their lawyer, but told the court that they were 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.
In his ruling, 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 of the 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 to the final forfeiture of the property. 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 property 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 proof on it, consequently, the prayer of the applicant is successful.
“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.”