Diezani files suit seeking to vacate order on asset forfeiture


Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum, has gone before a federal high court in Abuja seeking to vacate an order granting final forfeiture of her assets to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).


Alison-Madueke, in an originating motion, sought an order extending the time within which to seek leave to apply to the court for an order to set aside the EFCC’s public notice issued to conduct a public sale on her property.


The former minister is also seeking to stop the planned sale of her assets by the anti-graft commission.


The EFCC had issued a notice that it planned to conduct a public sale of all assets seized from Diezani beginning on January 9.


In the motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/21/2023, dated and filed January 6, Diezani through her lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, argued that all the orders of forfeiture obtained by the EFCC were made without jurisdiction of the courts and “ought to be set aside ex debito justitiae”.


The former minister said she was not given fair hearing in all the proceedings leading to the orders nor was she notified about the proceedings or served with the court processes.


“The various court orders issued in favour of the respondent and upon which the respondent issued the public notice to conduct a 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.


 “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.”


However, in a counter affidavit, the EFCC through its lawyer, Rufai Zaki, described Deizani’s claims as “untrue”.


Zaki, who was a member of the team that investigated the case of alleged criminal conspiracy, official corruption and money laundering against the ex-minister and some other individuals, said investigations showed that Alison-Madueke was involved in some acts of criminality.


“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.


He said contrary to her deposition, most of the cases which led to the final forfeiture of the contested property “were action in rem, same were heard at various times and determined by this honourable court”.


He said the courts differently ordered the commission to do a newspaper publication inviting parties to show cause why the said property should not be forfeited to the federal government before final orders were made.


Zaki argued that one Nnamdi Awa-Kalu represented the ex-minister in one of the forfeiture applications.


The EFCC investigator added that the order of forfeiture Diezani is challenging was granted in 2017 and that she never thought to appeal it.


The matter has been adjourned till May 8 for hearing.

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