The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday ordered a temporary forfeiture of three landed properties belonging to Kola Aluko, an ally of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) gave the valued of the landed properties located in Abuja and Lagos as $73m and N350m.
The EFCC gave the names of the properties as Plot 3389 and Plot 3390, House 2, Margaret Thatcher Close, Asokoro Cadastral Zone, Abuja; as well as Avenue Towers, Plot 1391 Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The anti-graft agency said the Plot 3389 and Plot 3390 in Abuja were purchased for N350m and $18m, respectively. It said the Lagos property was bought for $55m.
The EFCC said the funds used to procure the properties were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
Following an ex parte application on Tuesday, Justice Mohammed Liman ordered the properties temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government.
EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, had told the judge that Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 2016 empowered the court to make such a forfeiture order.
“The properties sought to be attached are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful diversion from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“That the respondent’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the properties sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” the lawyer said in the application.
An operative of the EFCC, Sambo Mayana, said the anti-graft agency investigated Aluko after receiving from Mr Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, “a damning intelligence report and a petition alleging fraud, lack of transparency and unethical conduct in the transfer of production rights in the oil mining leases against the respondent and his cronies.
“That there are suspicious financial transactions involving the 1st respondent, KAA and Atlantic Energy Holding Limited based in the British Virgin Island.
“That the company, in the course of three years, received large suspicious transfers from two sister companies, namely: Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, based in Nigeria.”
After granting the forfeiture order, the judge directed the EFCC to publish it in a national newspaper.
He adjourned till November 12, 2019 for anyone interested in the properties to appear before him to show cause why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Meanwhile a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday has adjourned till December 2, 2019 for judgment in the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others for an alleged fraud of N7.65bn.
Justice Mohammed Idris fixed judgment day on Tuesday after the prosecution and the defence adopted their written addresses and canvassed final arguments in the 12-year-old case.
Standing trial alongside Kalu are his company, Slok Nigeria Limited; and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor.
In an amended 39 counts, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission accused them of conspiring and diverting N7.65bn from the coffers of the state.
In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Kalu, who was Abia State Governor between 1999 and 2007, “did procure Slok Nigeria Limited – a company solely owned by you and members of your family – to retain in its account, domiciled with the then Inland Bank Plc, Apapa branch, Lagos, an aggregate sum of N7,197,871,208.7 on your behalf.”
The prosecution claimed that the N7.1bn “formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of the Abia State Government and which was converted into several bank drafts before they were paid into the said company’s account.”
The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said the ex-governor violated Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and was liable to be punished under Section 16 of the same Act.
Apart from the N7.1bn, which he was accused of laundering, the ex-governor and the other defendants were also accused of receiving a total of N460m allegedly stolen from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.
The prosecutor said they breached Section 427 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
But the defendants pleaded not guilty.
In an attempt to prove the allegations, the prosecution called 19 witnesses.
The defendants testified on behalf of themselves in an attempt to deny the allegations.
On Tuesday, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), urged the judge to jail the defendants as the prosecution had proved the allegations against them.
Jacobs said the 2nd defendant had already admitted to the offence both in his extrajudicial statement and under cross-examination.
“The admission is binding on all the defendants,” the prosecutor said.
He added that contrary to Kalu’s statement that Abia State did not have as much as N7bn during his administration, information from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation showed total allocation to Abia State under Kalu was N137bn.
However, the defence urged the court to dismiss the charges, acquit and discharge their clients.
After hearing them all out, Justice Idris fixed December 2 for judgment.