Barely two weeks after the signing of six agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Federal Government has initiated moves to seize assets of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and four others in Dubai.
The others are: a former Managing Director of the defunct Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Sen. Bala Mohammed and his son, Shamsudeen.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced eight choice assets to Mrs. Ibru and two to the ex-Petroleum Minister.
Although the ex-FCT Minister and his son are on the Federal Government’s list, their Dubai houses are yet to be listed. The investigation is on.
The profiling of the suspected assets of more than 25 Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) is ongoing.
The EFCC has done “considerable intelligence work on the assets of Diezani and some of her business associates”, a source told The Nation yesterday.
The source said: “Following due diligence by the EFCC, the Federal Government has already compiled a list of first batch of suspects with houses in Dubai, whose assets ought to be attached.
“They are a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; a former Managing Director of the defunct Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru and a former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Sen. Bala Mohammed and his son, Shamsudeen.
“The government will soon formally apply to the UAE for the seizure of the assets traced to these Nigerians.
“Despite the fact that many assets were said to be allegedly owned by Mrs. Ibru, only eight choice mansions has been identified by the EFCC.
“The ex-Petroleum Minister has two apartments, including the one marked as J5 Emirates Hills (30 million Dirham) and another tagged E146 Emirates Hills, valued at 44million Dirham.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “The EFCC is profiling more than 25 PEPs based on the huge database from the UAE.
Some of these assets are in Emirates Hills, Marina, Jumeira, Bur Dubai in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE. “We are yet to focus on looted funds stashed in the Emirates,” the source said.
On the inclusion of the ex-FCT minister and his son, the source added: “This is based on intelligence report. We will keep you posted on the outcome of their suspected assets in Dubai. Ours is to make their names available for investigation by the UAE.
“Even those who bought houses through proxies can be detected.”
Following a state visit to the UAE by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 19, 2016 , the Federal Government entered into six agreements with the Emirates.
The agreements, which were signed by President Buhari last week, are:
- Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement;
- Agreement on Trade Promotion and Protection;
- Judicial Agreements on Extradition;
- Transfer of Sentenced Persons;
- Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters; and
- Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters(recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth).
Sections 7 of 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 mandate the agency to seize suspicious assets.
Section 7 says: “The commission has power to (a) cause any investigations to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organization has committed any offence under this Act or other law relating to economic and financial crimes.
“(b) Cause investigations to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income.”
Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 empower the anti-graft agency to invoke Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause.
“Section 28 of the EFCC Act reads: ‘Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.’
Section 13 of the Federal High Court Act reads in part: “The Court may grant an injunction or appoint a receiver by an interlocutory order in all cases in which it appears to the Court to be just or convenient so to do.