The Minister of Petroleum Resources in former Nigeria president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has sued the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation N100 billion for libel and defamation.
Alison-Madueke was represented by a team of her lawyers headed by Mike Ozekhome, a senior advocate, in the suit marked CV/6272/2023, filed at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Friday, May 26.
The EFCC and Attorney-General’s Office are the first and second respondents in the suit.
The former minister, arguably the most vilified of Jonathan’s aides for corruption by the President Muhammadu Buhari government, is demanding a public apology to be published in three major national dailies, and an order by the court to stop the respondents from further defaming her.
She informed the court she had been away from Nigeria after leaving office in 2015 to manage, in the United Kingdom, “the most aggressive form of breast cancer”.
The ICIR reports that Buhari’s largely-unsuccessful fight against corruption has its roots in the arms procurement fund, which exposed much rot in Jonathan’s government, and its incapacity to contain the Boko Haram insurgency that spiraled and worsened the nation’s insecurity under Buhari.
Buhari leaves office on May 29 with the minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, whose office is the second respondent in Alison-Madueke’s suit.
She said in the suit that the first and second respondents had on December 16, 2021, made a libelous and defamatory publication about her titled, ‘Diezani: EFCC uncovers additional $72.8 million in Fidelity Bank’, and “maliciously wrote, authored and/or caused to be written, authored, or published to the whole world at large of and concerning the claimant, through the 1st Defendant’s online official website through which they falsely and maliciously described the claimant as a common criminal who looted public funds belonging to the Federal Republic of Nigeria for her personal gain.”
She added, “In a publication made on August 8, 2017, by the 1st and 2nd defendants, titled ‘Unbelievable!!! EFCC traces N47.2 Billion, $487.5 Million to ex-Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke’, the 1st and 2nd defendants falsely and maliciously wrote, authored and or/caused to be written, authored, or published to the whole world at large through the 1st defendant’s online platform, a false and insidious story ….wherein they falsely and maliciously described the claimant thus: ‘It seems Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, until recently, Minister of Petroleum Resources, going by the sheer amount of her acquisition of gold and diamonds, may have been fighting a spirited war against millions of compatriots who are heavily and unevenly yoked by crass poverty.”
According to her, the publications and many others diminished her person and lowered her esteem before the right-thinking public, adding that many people who saw the publications called her and expressed disappointment with her alleged ‘dubious character.’
Among others, the claimant is seeking an order restraining the 1st and 2nd respondents, whether acting by themselves, servants, agents, operatives, or by whomever and howsoever from distributing or further distributing, publishing or further publishing in any form or manner, the same or similar offensive, libelous materials or stories of or concerning her.
She is, therefore, demanding, “An order directing the defendants jointly and severally to pay to the claimant the sum of N100,000,000,000.00 (100 billion nairas) only as damages for the false, injurious, malicious and libelous publications against the claimant in the 1st defendant’s publishing platform, and at the instance of both the 1st and the 2nd defendants.”
In May 2021, The ICIR reported how the EFCC claimed that the pieces of jewelry found in the claimant’s home were worth N14.4 billion.
In another report that year, the commission said it found $153 million and 80 houses related to her.
Earlier, a court had ordered the permanent forfeiture of N34 billion linked to her.
In a similar ruling in 2019, a court ordered the permanent forfeiture of her jewelry and an iPhone.