The Federal High Court in Abuja has scheduled October 23 as the date for the hearing of a lawsuit filed by former Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke, challenging the seizure of her assets by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Inyang Ekwo set the date on Wednesday after Diezani’s lawyer, Benson Igbanoi, and the EFCC counsel, M.D. Baraya completed the necessary procedures.
The suspended chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, had disclosed that $153 million and over 80 properties were recovered from Diezani.
While the EFCC claimed that Diezani fled to the UK in 2015 during the end of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, in which she served as a minister, to evade arrest, Diezani maintained that her travel to the UK was for breast cancer treatment.
In the lawsuit filed by her lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Diezani also requests the court to nullify the bench warrant issued against her on July 24, 2020.
She accused the EFCC of withholding information to obtain the bench warrant, arguing that she was not evading arrest but had traveled to the United Kingdom in 2015 for treatment after being diagnosed with “Triple Negative Cancer,” the most aggressive form of breast cancer.
Diezani argued that she was not given a fair hearing before the EFCC approached the court to forfeit her assets to the Federal Government.
She asserted, “The various applications upon which the courts made the final order of forfeiture against the applicant were obtained based on gross misstatements, misrepresentations, non-disclosure, concealment, and suppression of material facts. This honorable court can set aside such orders ex debito justitiae, as a void order is equivalent to it never being made at all.”
However, the EFCC, in a counter-affidavit presented by Detective Rufai Zaki, urged the court to dismiss Diezani’s application.
Zaki stated that contrary to Diezani’s claims, most cases that led to the final forfeiture of the contested properties “were action in rem, heard at different times, and determined by this honorable court.”
He explained that the courts had ordered the commission to publish newspaper notices inviting parties to show cause why the said properties should not be forfeited to the Federal Government before final orders were made.
Zaki maintained that investigations had revealed Diezani’s involvement in criminal activities, leading to the forfeiture proceedings.
The EFCC argued that the disposal of the properties followed due process of law, and none of the forfeiture orders had been overturned on appeal.
Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed October 23 for the hearing to proceed.
As previously reported, the EFCC had successfully obtained the forfeiture of 2,149 pieces of jewelry and a customized gold iPhone worth $40 million, which were recovered from Diezani’s Abuja residence.