FORMER petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke has list her legal battle to keep hold of 2,149 pieces of jewellery valued at $40m after an Abuja high court ruled that she had failed to show why the items should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.
In July, Diezani had the jewellery, including a customised gold iPhone valued at a total $40m seized from her after a Lagos federal high court ordered their forfeiture to the federal government. She appealed the decision, trying to get them returned to her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but lost the case this morning.
Oil minister during the tenure of former president Dr Goodluck Jonathan, Ms Alison-Madueke has been the subject of a series of corruption probes, with the federal high court in Nigeria confiscating some of her assets and handing them over to the government. Under investigation both in Nigeria and the UK, Ms Alison-Madueke, who was in office between 2011 and 2015, has been accused of participating in largescale corruption, including using her position to allocate lucrative oil wells to close associates worth billions of dollars.
Since leaving office two years ago, Ms Alison-Madueke has taken refuge in the UK, where she was arrested and granted bail pending the filing of formal charges against her. Ms Alison-Madueke has been asked to forfeit UK properties worth over £11m and been forced to forfeit about N7.6bn hidden in a Nigerian bank to the government.
According to the EFCC, the jewellery seized was 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. In his ruling today, Justice Nicholas Oweibo held that Ms Alison-Madueke , through her lawyer, Awa Kalu, failed to show cause why the items should not be permanently forfeited.
In its submission, the EFCC had told the judge that the jewellery and iPhone were reasonably suspected to be acquired with fraud proceeds. According to the anti-graft agency, the items were beyond Diezani’s legitimate earnings.