FORMER Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, yesterday, told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that the seizure of her 2,149 pieces of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone, valued at $40 million, allegedly recovered from the Abuja home by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, amounted to a violation of her constitutional right to own properties.
This came as the EFCC asked the court to order the permanent forfeiture of the said pieces of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone.
Meanwhile, the court after hearing argument by parties adjourned till September 10, 2019, for a ruling.
The matter is before Justice Nicholas Oweibo.
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Praying the court not to make a final forfeiture order on the seized 2,149 pieces of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone, Diezani, through her counsel, Nnamdi Awa-Kalu, argued that the seizure of the items amounted to a violation of her constitutional right to own properties.
But the EFCC, in an affidavit deposed to by Rufai Zaki, an investigator, insisted that the items were beyond Diezani’s “known and provable lawful income.”
He averred that findings by the EFCC showed that Diezani started acquiring the jewellery in 2012 from one Bukola Oyewumi of Trinket Box Bespoke Jewellery at Ikeja City Mall, Alausa, adding that the commission had the details of the UBA account through which Diezani 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,” Zaki averred.
He said a “damning intelligence report” received by the EFCC led to the search on Diezani’s house at No. 10, Fredrick Chiluba Close, Asokoro, Abuja, adding that the EFCC invited Oyewumi, who made a statement that she started selling jewellery to Diezani in 2012.
According to Zaki, Oyewumi also made available to the EFCC the invoices issued in respect of the jewellery in which ‘Aunty D’ was written as the buyer.
He said the EFCC also discovered that apart from Oyewumi, Diezani also bought jewellery from one Minal Ratanani of Bella Vista Apartment, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos.
According to him, Ratanani admitted during questioning by the EFCC that Diezani bought the jewellery worth $865,300.00 from her over a period and she paid cash.
The commission argued that it was in the best interest of justice for the court to order the permanent forfeiture of the jewellery and the gold iPhone to the Federal Government.