A Justice of the Federal High Court in Lagos, Muslim Hassan has ordered the permanent forfeiture of a sum of $153,310,000, said to have been diverted from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The presiding judge Muslim Hassan who delivered the ruling on Thursday ordered that the money should be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government, saying the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had evidence that the monies were proceeds of crime.
The EFCC had said the money was taken from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and stashed in three Nigerian banks.
Moses Awolusi, an EFCC investigator, had said two former group executive directors of finance and account at NNPC, B.O.N. Otti and Stanley Lawson, helped Alison-Madueke move the cash from NNPC.
Awolusi said out of the money, the EFCC had recovered the N23.4bn in draft and had registered it as an exhibit marked, EFCC 01.
In his ruling, the judge said: “I hereby make an order pursuant to section 17 of the advanced fee fraud and other related Offences Act 2016, for final forfeiture of the unclaimed sum of N23, 426, 300, 000.00 billion and 5 million dollars to the Federal Government finally.
“In respect of the second respondent, learned Counsel, Mr Charles Adeogun, informed the court that the second respondent filed a counter-affidavit on why the sum of N9.08 billion should not be forfeited.
“I have carefully examined the affidavit evidence before the court and I find that the second respondent was duly cautioned in English language before his statement was taken and so, I hold that same was taken without any evidence of inducement.
“On the whole, I am satisfied that all the conditions stated in Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act, was duly fulfilled by the applicant.
“I accordingly make the following orders — An order for the final forfeiture of the sum of N23, 426, 300, 000.00 billion being unclaimed property to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“An order of final forfeiture is also made for the sum of N9.08 billion recovered from the second respondent to the Federal Government of Nigeria, this is my judgment.” He said.