Former Petroleum Minister, Ibe Kachikwu has denied smuggling a car stolen from a Jaguar assembly in the United Kingdom into America.
Peoples Gazette reported that a United States court ordered the confiscation of the vehicle found in Kachikwuâ€™s possession.
The 2007 Jaguar XKR was taken from its facility in Birmingham, England. The manufacturer said the vehicle was made for use in the Czech Republic.
The complaint sheet informed the court that the vehicle, which did not meet U.S. safety standards, was stolen and shipped to Lagos, Nigeriaâ€™s commercial hub.
The XKR was seized on June 15, 2011 at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport in California, United States.
Kachikwu admitted to the forfeiture of the vehicle and agreed to pay $10,000 instead of the vehicle being confiscated. He maintained he was not part of the theft.
The court held that the vehicle was subject to forfeiture in line with federal laws.
Consuelo Bland Marshall, Judge of the United States Court for the Central District of California, delivered the judgment.
â€œClaimant has acknowledged that the government had probable cause for the seizure of the defendant vehicleâ€, the court document read.
â€œThe theft of the defendant vehicle from the manufacturer, as alleged in the complaint, occurred before claimantâ€™s acquisition of the vehicle from a dealership and did not involve claimant.â€
Kachikwu was the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Executive Vice Chairman and General Counsel of Exxon-Mobil.
In a statement, Kachikwuâ€™s aide, Lawson Chibuike, noted that the vehicle stolen was from Jamaica, not the UK, and that Jaguar told the District Court of Central California.
He said Kachikwu bought the Jaguar car in 2009 from Dazz Motors Nigeria Ltd., whose MD was Emmanuel Jack, and had an office in Victoria Island, Lagos.
The former minister, he confirmed, paid fully for the car and was registered in his name. Chibuike recalled that after some period of use, Kachikwu exported it to the U.S. â€œas a gift to a relationâ€.
Chibuike admitted that the customs impounded the car because it was not built for American roads, based on emission control reasons and on the suspicion that it was stolen.
â€œDr. Kachikwu gave them the details of the car and they reached out to the car dealer, who corroborated his narration and validated his innocence.
â€œHowever, while it couldnâ€™t be proven and established that the car might have been stolen in Europe, it was based on the emission control concerns that an administrative ruling was given in the US that the car be taken back to Nigeria.â€
The statement said once the customs determined there was no reason to continue to impound the car or charge the dealer, â€œthe car was released to Kachikwu, who returned it to the dealer and got a refundâ€.
Chibuike added that the matter happened years before President Muhammadu Buhari appointed his principal a minister.