The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Friday dismissed an appeal by former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, challenging the forfeiture of her $40million worth of jewelry to the Federal Government.
The appellate court held that there was no substance in Alison-Madueke’s bid to overturn the lower court’s order. It affirmed the 2019 judgment of Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court which forfeited the jewelry following an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The appellate court gave its judgment in an appeal filed by Alison-Madueke.
On July 5, 2019, the EFCC secured an order of the high court to temporarily forfeit the expensive gems to the Federal Government. According to the schedule attached to the application, the jewelry, categorised into 33 sets, include
“419 expensive bangles; 315 expensive rings; 304 expensive earrings; 267 expensive necklaces; 189 expensive wristwatches; 174 expensive necklaces and earrings; 78 expensive bracelets; 77 expensive brooches; and 74 expensive pendants.”
The items were seized from the former minister’s residence, at No. 10 Fredrick Chiluba Close, Asokoro, Abuja.
Justice Oweibo on July 19, 2019 granted the EFCC’s motion for final forfeiture of the jewelry.
The judge held that the former minister failed to show cause why the jewelry should not be forfeited to the Federal Government.
In his application for the final forfeiture order, EFCC counsel Mr Rotimi Oyedepo had told the judge that the items were reasonably suspected to have been acquired with the proceeds of unlawful activities of the former minister. An investigator with the commission, Rufai Zaki, in an affidavit before the court insisted that the jewelry were beyond the former minister’s “known and provable lawful income.” The investigator further said that findings by the EFCC showed that she started acquiring the jewelry in 2012, two years after she was appointed Minister.
The investigator also said that the EFCC was in possession of the details of the bank account through which Mrs Alison-Madueke received her salary as a minister.
“The respondent did not utilise her salary or any part of her legitimate income to acquire the assets sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Zaki said.
He said a “damning intelligence report” received by the commission led to the search of the former minister’s house at No. 10 Fredrick Chiluba Close, Asokoro, Abuja.
The former minister on her part had challenged the seizure of the jewelry from her premises by the EFCC.
In an affidavit filed on her behalf by her counsel, Prof Awa Kalu (SAN), Alison-Madueke who is currently in the United Kingdom, alleged that the EFCC violated her fundamental “right to own property and to appropriate them at her discretion,” under sections 43 and 44 of the constitution.
She also accused the anti-graft agency of entering her apartment illegally and taking the items without any court order.
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‘Governor Abiodun Committed To Rule Of Law, Democracy’
The commitment of the administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun in Ogun State to ensure the preservation of the rule of law, battle corruption and, protect the tenets of democracy in the country has again been reiterated.
According to a top functionary of the government, apart from prioritising the welfare of the people, the administration is working hard to deepen the people’s beliefs in the nations democratic process.
Kayode Akinmade, a Chief Consultant on Media to the governor, who spoke while answering questions on a television programme on Friday, said as a law-abiding leader, the governor has always taken recourse to the judiciary to seek redress for himself and his administration whenever the need arises, rather than engage in self-help.
Akinmade stressed that the decision of the governor to approach the court over the matter between him and the impeached chairman of Ijebu East Local Government Area, Wale Adedayo, is a demonstration of his belief in the rule of law and his indisposition to ‘rule of force’.
Adedayo appeared before a Magistrate’s Court at Isabo, Abeokuta, on a petition filed by the state government against him over an earlier allegation of diversion of funds meant for Council Areas in the state. Governor Abiodun is insisting that the former Council boss must prove his allegations against his administration or face the wrath of the law for falsely inciting the people against the government.
Adedayo was arraigned on a two-count charge. According to Akinmade, it is wrong for people to rush to accuse the governor of persecuting Adedayo, who according to him, has “severally apologised to the governor in private while continuing with his ill-motivated misinformation in public.”
“The governor believes that taking Adedayo before the court will deepen our democracy and entrench the rule of law.
“Unlike some other people in Governor Abiodun’s shoes who would readily recourse to sending thugs after and unleashing other forms of violence on those who accused them rightly or wrongly, our governor decided to seek redress in court. I think he should be commended by all and sundry for this. What he is doing is giving Adedayo a chance to prove his allegations,” Akinmade said.
On the allegation by the impeached chairman that the governor is behind his removal, Akinmade said Adedayo was already facing removal from office before he raised the false alarms against the governor. “He has already been accused of several impeachable offences before he wrote the letter alleging that the governor diverted council funds. He had already reached out to the governor and other leaders of the party to help him stave off his removal. It was when he realized he may not survive the impeachment move that he connived with some other unscrupulous politicians in the party to malign the governor and discredit the APC in Ogun State,” Akinmade said.
The media chief added that claims by Adedayo that he got zero allocation since he became chairman of his local government were proved wrong by the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) in the state when the House of Assembly looked into his petition. He recalled that other council chairmen in the state also debunked the allegation and even brought Adedayo with them to apologize to the governor for the wrong allegations.
“But in spite of all these, he didn’t stop his scripted plot to tarnish the image of the governor. Hence, Governor Abiodun approached the court for redress,” he added.
Speaking further, Akinmade recalled that the impeached council boss has been in office for more than two years before making his frivolous and unfounded allegations. “One then wonders why he is raising this alarm now. He claimed zero allocation, but he has been collecting his monthly N3 million security votes regularly. Local government staff in his LGA are not being owed, and primary school teachers there are paid as at when due. We all should be asking him to explain what he meant by zero allocation,” he said.
BREAKING: Kaduna Guber Tribunal Nullifies Election Of Governor Uba Sani
The governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Kaduna on Thursday declared the election of Uba Sani of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as inconclusive and thus nullified the exercise.
The tribunal made the declaration while delivering judgement via Zoom in a petition by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Isah Ashiru, challenging the election of Sani in the March 2023, election.
The tribunal ordered that fresh election be conducted in seven wards in four LGAs of the state.
In Shakeup Of FCT Administration, Wike Sacks Agencies, Parastatals Heads
In a decisive shakeup of the administration of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), its Minister Nyesom Wike, has sacked the heads of 21 parastatals, agencies, and government companies.
This was disclosed in a statement by the Director of Press, Office of the Minister, Anthony Ogunleye, in Abuja on Wednesday.
Ogunleye identified the affected heads of the agencies as follows:
1. Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Abuja Investment Company Ltd
2. CEO/Managing Director, Abuja Markets Management Ltd
3. MD/CEO, Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company
4. CEO/MD, Abuja Property Development Company
5. CEO/MD, Abuja Technology Village Free Trade Zone Company
6. CEO/MD, Abuja Film Village International
7. CEO/MD, Powernoth AICL Equipment Leasing Company Ltd
8. MD, Abuja Broadcasting Corporation
9. MD, Abuja Enterprise Agency
10. General Manager, FCT Water Board
11. Director-General, FCT Emergency Management Agency
12. Executive Secretary, FCT Primary Healthcare Board
13. DG, Hospital Management Board
14. Director, Abuja Environmental Protection Board
15. Director, FCT Scholarship Board
16. Director, FCT Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board
17. Director, Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board
18. Coordinator, Abuja Infrastructure Investment Center
19. Director, FCT Health Insurance Scheme
20. Coordinator, Satellite Towns Development Department
21. Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council
The director of the press said that the affected appointees should hand over the affairs of their offices to the most senior officers in rank.
He added that appointments in the offices would be made in due course.
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