Former Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke has sought the Federal High Court in Abuja to reverse a decision that allowed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to declare her seized property permanently forfeit.
In an originating motion, Alison-Madueke asked the court to extend the deadline for requesting leave to ask the court to set aside the EFCC’s public notice of its intention to sell her property at a public auction.
The anti-corruption organization, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), intended to hold a public auction of all assets seized from Alison-Madueke starting on January 9 as stated in its public notice, following various court judgments/orders issued in favour of the commission as final forfeiture orders against the former minister’s property and personal effects.
However, the ex-minister requested five orders from the court in the motion dated and filed before Justice Inyang Ekwo on January 6 and marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/21/2023.
The EFCC is the only respondent in the case; Alison-Madueke is the applicant.
“The various court orders issued in favour of the respondent and upon which the respondent issued the public notice to conduct public sale of items contained in the public notice most of which court the interest of the applicant were issued in breach of the applicant’s right to fair hearing as guaranteed by Section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as altered, and other similar constitutional provisions,” she said.
She insisted that she was not given a copy of the charge sheet, the proof of evidence, or any other summons related to the criminal charges that are still pending against her in court.
She further asserted that by concealing or failing to disclose crucial information, the courts were misled into obtaining final forfeiture orders against her property.
“The several applications upon which the courts made the final order of forfeiture against the applicant were obtained upon gross misstatements, misrepresentations, non-disclosure, concealment and suppression of material facts and this honourable court has the power to set-aside same ex debito justitiae, as a void order is as good as if it was never made at all.
The orders were made without recourse to the constitutional right to fair hearing and right to property accorded the applicant by the constitution.
The applicant was never served with the processes of court in all the proceedings that led to the order of final forfeiture,” she said, among other grounds given.
Contrarily, the EFCC requested the court to reject Alison Madueke’s appeal in a counter-affidavit sworn to by detective Rufai Zaki of the commission.
The investigation definitely showed that the ex-minister was involved in various criminal acts, according to Zaki, a member of the team that looked into a case of criminal conspiracy, official corruption, and money laundering against her and others involved in the case.
He claims that Alison-Madueke was charged in court with the offense listed as FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018.
“We hereby rely on the charge FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018 dated 14th November, 2018 filed before this honourable court and also attached as Exhibit C in the applicant’s affidavit,” he said.
The majority of the depositions, according to the EFCC agent who claimed to have seen the former motion minister, were bogus.
He asserted that the bulk of the instances that resulted in the final confiscation of the challenged property were contrary to her deposition in the supporting affidavit, “were action in rem, same were heard at various times and determined by this honourable court.”
He asserted that before issuing final decisions, the commission was required by the courts to publish an advertisement in the newspaper urging parties to provide justification as to why the property should not be forfeited to the federal government.
In answer to one of the forfeiture requests, Zaki asserted that Nnamdi Awa Kalu represented the ex-minister.
“We humbly rely on the judgment of Hon. Justice I.LN. Oweibo dated 10th September, 2019 shown in Exhibit C of the applicant’s affidavit,” he said.
Contrary to what the officer said, the court had ordered the final confiscation of the property at issue in the current application in 2017, and this decision had not been overturned or overturned on appeal.
He claimed that the properties had been sold in accordance with the law.
The EFFC had just served them on Friday, and they would need time to respond to the counter-affidavit, Alison-counsel Madueke’s Oluchi Uche said when the matter was brought up on Monday.
The anti-graft agency’s representative Farouk Abdullah did not raise an objection, thus the case was continued for a hearing on May 8 instead.
NAN claims that Alison-Madueke held the position of petroleum minister for Nigeria during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.