From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Former Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke has urged the Abuja division of the Federal High Court to vacate an order granted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for final forfeiture of her seized assets.
The EFCC had commenced plans to conduct a public sale of all assets seized from Alison-Madueke beginning from January 9 as contained in its public notice following various court judgments/orders issued in favour of the commission as final forfeiture orders against property and personal effects of the former minister.
However, in an originating motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/21/2023 dated and filed January 6 by her counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, the ex- Petroleum minister 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 the public sale on her property.
Allison-Madueke who filed the motion before Justice Inyang Ekwo is seeking five orders from the court while contending that the various orders were made without jurisdiction, said these “ought to be set aside ex debito justitiae.”
In addition, she contended that she was not accorded a fair hearing in all the proceedings leading to the orders.
“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.
She argued that she was neither served with the charge sheet and proof of evidence in any of the charges nor any other summons howsoever and whatsoever in respect of the criminal charges pending against her before the court.
She equally argued that the courts were misled into making several of the final forfeiture orders against her assets through suppression or non-disclosure of material facts.
“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 a 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.
Regardless, the EFCC has in a counter affidavit deposed to by Rufai Zaki, a detective with the commission, urged the court to dismiss Alison-Madueke’s application.
Zaki, who was a member of the team that investigated a case of criminal conspiracy, official corruption and money laundering against the ex-minister and some other persons involved in the case, said the investigation had clearly shown that she was involved in some acts of criminality.
He said Alison-Madueke was therefore charged before the court in charge no: 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 EFCC operative, who said he had seen the ex-minister’s motion, said most of the depositions were untrue.
He said contrary to her deposition in the affidavit in support, 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.”