THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced assets worth $73million and N350 million to Mr. Kola Aluko, an associate of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The commission has asked two separate courts in Abuja and Lagos to give order for the permanent forfeiture of the exotic mansions to the Federal Government.
The properties are 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 EFCC said Plot 3389 and Plot 3390 in Abuja were purchased for N350 million and $18 million, respectively, while the Lagos property was bought for $55million.
The commission is also seeking the final forfeiture of an $18 million mansion it has traced to Aluko before a Federal High Court, Abuja
The EFCC said the Abuja choice property, “very close to the seat of power at the Presidential Villa, is made up of a Guest House, Boys Quarters, Security Outpost, Swimming Pool and Underground Control Room for the remote control of electrical appliances in the property.
“The property is said to be furnished with luxury and very expensive items.”
Following a court order by Justice Okon Abang, the choice property and five others were temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government in 2016.
The court has given Aluko and others linked with the property till December 11 to prove their innocence that the assets were not bought with illicit funds.
Aluko has an opportunity to prove to the Federal High Court in Abuja that the $18 million choice property and other highbrow properties were not acquired through proceeds of crime.
The other five choice properties that are temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government include Plot 1390 Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island, Lagos and Plot 1391, Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island, popularly called Avenue Towers.
But, two applicants, Trelou Investment Inc and RMCK Projects Development Ltd, have filed applications, challenging the interim forfeiture orders on the grounds that they are interested parties on the matter.
The applicants are asking the court to discharge the interim forfeiture order.
The EFCC has filed preliminary objections against the applicants, saying they lack the locus standi to file the matter.
When the matter came up last Friday, lawyer to the EFCC, Victor Ukagwu, said the commission had pending applications, including the one dated October 16, 2018.
He also informed the court that the commission had filed counter- affidavit, written address and preliminary objection against the applicants
Ukagwu said: “There is no nexus between the applicants and the reliefs sought.”
He insisted that the applicants are not the rightful owners of the properties and did not disclose any cause of action against the EFCC.
Aluko’s lawyer, Jaiye Aguro, and that of the applicants, Ahmed O Ahmed, also informed the court that there were pending applications by their clients dated November 9, 2018 and March 12, 2019.
They also urged the court to grant their clients’ applications and set aside the interim forfeiture order against the choice properties.
Having listened to the argument of both parties and the necessary documents before the court, Justice Abang fixed December 11 for his ruling on all the applications.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos yesterday ordered the forfeiture of three landed properties in Lagos and Abuja belonging to Aluko.
Justice Mohammed Liman made the order, following an ex parte motion filed by EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo.
The EFCC identified Aluko as the Chief Executive Officer of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Ltd (AEDC) and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited (AEBD).
His co-defendant is a firm, District Heights Ltd.
The anti-graft agency said the properties were valued at $73 million and N350 million
The properties are: 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 EFCC said Plot 3389 and Plot 3390 in Abuja were purchased for N350m and $18 million, respectively, while the Lagos property was bought for $55million.
According to the agency, the funds used to procure the properties were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
Oyedepo told the judge that Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 2016 empowers the court to make such a forfeiture order.
He said: “The properties sought to be attached are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful diversion from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“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.”
In the attached sworn affidavit, an operative of the EFCC, Sambo Mayana, said the anti-graft agency investigated Aluko after receiving a petition from the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Mr. Debo Adeniran.
He said it was “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.
He added: “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.
“The respondent and his crony, Olajide Jones Omokore, are the operators and beneficial owners of the Atlantic Energy companies mentioned above, including Atlantic Energy DMCC and Atlantic Energy SA.
“That the first respondent is a close crony of the erstwhile Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke.”
After granting the application, Justice Liman directed the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper.
He adjourned till November 12 for anyone interested in the properties to appear before him to show cause why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.