EFCC: Why we’ve not auctioned N14 billion properties seized from ex-oil minister

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday in an FCT High Court in Maitama, re-arraigned a deputy director with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Emenike Umesi, for alleged misappropriation of N54.3 million.

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, says the commission is yet to auction assets and property recovered from former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, due to “administrative exigencies.”

Bawa disclosed this before the House ad hoc committee investigating the status of recovered loot in the country.

In July 2019, a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court ordered an interim forfeiture of the jewelry valued at an estimated $40 million seized from the ex-minister.

The temporarily forfeited items include over 419 bangles, 315 rings, 304 earrings, 189 wristwatches, 267 necklaces, and a customized gold iPhone.

In September, the final forfeiture was granted by the court.

The EFCC boss had appeared before the committee on Tuesday but left midway to attend a national security meeting.

Before he left, Bawa was asked to explain some transactions allegedly undertaken by his predecessor, Ibrahim Magu.

The committee had on Thursday queried the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, for alleged illegal withdrawals from the EFCC assets recovery account.

When he appeared on Friday, the committee had a closed-door session with him to discuss transfers relating to national security.

During the open session, Bawa told the lawmakers that the total jewellery seized from Mrs Alison-Madueke was worth N14.46 billion, while other items such as properties and vehicles were valued at $80 million.

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He revealed that the court process and other administrative exigencies stalled that process of auctioning them.

Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), questioned Mr Bawa on why it was taking longer to sell the assets and went ahead to announce that the committee will set up a subcommittee to visit EFCC offices to determine the state of the assets.

“One of the responsibilities of this committee is to ascertain the status of these assets. We are going to set up a subcommittee, a technical committee to look at the state of those assets,” Adeogun said.

“If you have assets that are worth 14 billion, some of them could be deteriorating assets. We need to be sure they need to be in a fit and proper state. We need to know the status of these assets, I am sure you have cars among the assets. Every day you have a forfeited car, you are losing value. Why is it taking so long to dispose of those assets to fund the budget?”

In his response, Mr Bawa blamed the long court process and the administrative exigencies for the delay.

He also announced that the committee set up by the federal government will help to dispose of the assets.

“Several factors, the court process and procedure are chief among them that require a very lengthy time. Other issues like administrative exigencies. Since I came on board, we have resolved to be taking things on a case by case basis, we are not going to do things the way they used to be.

“We are happy with the committee set up by the federal government to dispose of not only the assets that we seized but the assets the other agencies seized. I believe once this exercise is done, the line is already drawn, and we will deal with them on a case by case basis.

“So that there will not be any need next year, in two years, or five years, for the House to set up this type of committee again, as cases are being done within court, we will dispose of them,” Mr Bawa said.

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