The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has deployed its operatives in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, as part of the last leg of ongoing probe of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Of interest to the anti-graft agency are five choice houses believed to be owned by the former minister who is undergoing cancer treatment in the United Kingdom.
The U.K’s National Crime Agency and the EFCC are jointly coordinating investigations to nail Mrs. Alison-Madueke, who is suspected of being part of former public officials that looted about $10billion in cash and assets.
Amid the Port Harcourt operation, another asset of the ex-minister in Abuja, allegedly worth over N500million, has been confiscated pending her trial.
It would be recalled that the commission had earlier seized a mansion worth N3.58billion from Alison-Madueke, bringing the haul in Abuja to about N4.08billion of assets believed to be hers.
The EFCC shifted its attention in the probe of the former minister to Port Harcourt after it received intelligence report on the properties said to be worth over N3billion
A top source in EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said: “Based on latest intelligence, we have been able to trace more choice assets to Mrs. Alison-Madueke in Port Harcourt. We have drafted more operatives in Rivers State.
“We have identified more than five of such assets but we need to verify the ownership by going through some documents before attaching the properties in line with our mandate.
“In the next one week, our team in Port Harcourt would have completed their assignment. We will then release the value of the assets.
“We are also on the trail of some accomplices who were used for the property deals”.
Responding to a question, the source said: “We are still working in collaboration with NCA in the UK. I think we are getting closer to the final leg of the Mrs. Alison-Madueke probe”.
The EFCC is acting on the strength of Sections 28 and 34 of the Act establishing it and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004.
The Acts empower the anti-graft agency to invoke the Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause.
For instance, Section 28 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 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 sourt 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. Any such order may be made either unconditionally or on such terms and conditions as the Court thinks just’.