The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has seized a mansion worth N3.58bn ($18m at the official exchange rate of N199 to a dollar) in the Asokoro area of Abuja allegedly belonging to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, said this during an interview with Al-Jazeera, a Qatar-based news network.
He stated that the house was part of the $10bn in cash and assets that had been seized by the Federal Government in the last one year.
“We have been able to take on a lot of big shots that were hitherto untouchable in the three arms of the military, political class. We have recorded 164 convictions in just one year,” he said.
He denied claims that the fight against corruption was politically-motivated.
“No, not my EFCC; not the EFCC of today. We are not politicised. If there is an allegation against anybody, we will go after them,” he said.
The commission had revealed in April that it seized wristwatches worth £2m from the wife of the Chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, Mr. Jide Omokore, and Diezani.
The anti-graft agency seized a wristwatch worth £1.4m from Omokore’s wife, while a wristwatch worth £600,000 was seized from Diezani.
The wristwatches were said to have been seized during various raids on houses of some suspects on Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos, and other places.
Meanwhile, in a statement on Monday, the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the commission had the right to seize properties believed to have been acquired with stolen funds.
He said, “In recent times, a lot of interest has been generated by the action of the commission in freezing the accounts of suspects that were investigated or are currently being investigated. Some commentators have tended to ascribe vindictive motives to this action.
“In order to prevent misinformation, it is imperative to explain the reason behind the commission’s actions in this regard. Freezing of accounts suspected of being used for commission of financial crimes is a mandatory investigative step backed by law.
“Indeed, Section 34 (1) of the EFCC Act 2004 empowers the commission to freeze any account suspected of being used for financial crimes.
“The section stipulates that ‘the chairman of the commission or any officer authorised by him may, if satisfied that the money in the account of a person is made through the commission of an offence under this Act or any enactment specified under Section 6(2) (a)-(f) of this Act, apply to the court exparte for power to issue or instruct a bank examiner or such other appropriate authority to freeze the account.”
He argued that the aim of these provisions was to ensure that the commission safeguarded suspected proceeds of crime pending the completion of its investigation.