Court okays FG to takeover N34bn linked to Diezani (Updated)

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered that monies totaling about N34 billion and linked to former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, be forfeited to the Federal government.

The monies are N23.4 billion, N9.08 billion and $5 million totaling about N34 billion.

The court presided over by Justice Hassan had earlier on January 6, placed an interim forfeiture order on the funds and said that anyone interested in the fund should within 14 days appear before the court to prove why the money must not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.

Sequel to this condition, the executive director, Public Sector Accountant of the First Bank Plc, Mr. Dauda Lawal, appeared before the court through his counsel, Mr. Charles Adeogun-Phillips, to lay claim of N9, 080,000,000 out of the money.

Lawal, who was joined as the second respondent in the suit, had through his counsel told trial judge Hassan that the anti-graft agency distorted facts in praying the court to order the forfeiture of the N9, 080,000,000 which belong to his client as proceeds of crime.

He explained that the EFCC arrested Lawal, his client and forced him to sign an undertaking to make a refund of N9.08billion to the Federal Government as a condition for his release, which he did.

Adeogun-Phillips, then prayed the court to order the refund of the money to his client.

However in his judgment, the trial judge said the exhibits presented before the court showed that Lawal was never coerced but voluntarily signed the undertaking and hence, ordered the permanent forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.

“I hereby make an order pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2016, for final forfeiture of the unclaimed sum of N23, 426, 300.000 and five million United States dollars to the Federal government finally.

“In respect of the second respondent, learned counsel, Mr. Charles Adeogun-Phillips, informed the court that the second respondent filed a counter affidavit on why the sum of N9.08bn 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 offense 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, being unclaimed property, to the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

“An order of final forfeiture is also made for the sum of N9.08bn recovered from the second respondent, to the Federal Government of Nigeria, this is my judgment,” Justice Hassan ruled.