A FEDERAL high court in Lagos has permanently forfeited to the federal government a $37.5million Banana Island property bought in 2013 by Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former minister of Petroleum Resources.

Justice Chuka Obiozor, the presiding judge, made the order on Monday, August 7, following a motion on notice argued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The judge also ordered that the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84, 537,840.70 realised as rents on the property be permanently forfeited to the federal government.

The court had on Wednesday, July 19, ordered the temporary forfeiture of the property.

The property, designated as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, has 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses, according to court papers presented by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Apart from the property, Justice Obiozor, who presided over the court also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70, said to be part of the rent collected on the property.

The funds were said to have been found in a Zenith Bank account number 1013612486 as rents realised from the property.

Obiozor gave the order of temporary forfeiture following an ex parte application to that effect brought before him by Anselem Ozioko, a counsel for the EFCC.

Ozioko had told the judge that the EFCC “reasonably suspected that the property was acquired with proceeds of alleged unlawful activities of Diezani.”

The lawyer said investigations by the EFCC revealed that Alison-Madueke made the $37.5m payment for the purchase of the property in cash, adding that the money was moved straight from her house in Abuja and paid into the seller’s First Bank account in Abuja.

“Nothing could be more suspicious than someone keeping such huge amounts in her apartment. Why was she doing that? To avoid attention.

“We are convinced beyond reasonable doubts because, as of the time this happened, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke was still in public service as the Minister of Petroleum Resources,” Ozioko told the court.

After listening to Ozioko, Obiozor made an order temporarily seizing the property and the funds.

He directed that the order should be published in a national newspaper.

He adjourned the case till August 7, 2017 for anyone interested in the property and funds to appear before him.

Listed as respondents in the ex parte application were Alison-Madueke; Afamefuna Nwokedi, a lawyer and Rusimpex Limited, a company.