Embattled former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has denied being on the run and has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to set aside the bench warrant issued against her on July 24, 2020.
Punch reports that in a motion filed by her counsel, Mike Ozekhome, Diezani who served under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, told the court that contrary to claims made by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that she was on the run, she went to the United Kingdom in 2015 to get treatment after being diagnosed with “the most aggressive form of breast cancer — Triple Negative Cancer.”
In the motion filed by her counsel, Diezani prayed the court to strike out her name as “a defendant in charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria V. Diezani Alison Madueke, pending before this honorable court.” The motion, which has FRN as complainant/respondent, had Alison-Madueke as sole defendant/applicant.
Recall that in 2015, the EFCC filed money laundering charges against Dieziani and approached the court for a bench warrant against the former Minister.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, who granted the order on July 24, 2020, directed that Alison-Madueke should be arrested by local or international police anywhere she is sighted within or outside the country.
The case was, however, reassigned to Justice Olajuwon following the transfer of Ojukwu to the Calabar division of the court in 2021.
The ex-minister, in the five grounds attached to the motion, said the bench warrant was issued without jurisdiction, and sought that it be set aside ex debito justitiae. She argued that it was issued in breach of her right to fair hearing. She further argued that she had neither been served with the charge sheet nor the proof of evidence in a charge numbered FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018.
“The ex parte application for an order of bench warrant against the defendant/applicant was 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” she said
Dieziani stated that she had resided in the UK since May 22, 2015, when she voluntarily traveled for medical treatment towards the end of Jonathan’s administration, and was diagnosed with “the most aggressive form of breast cancer — Triple Negative Cancer.”
“I hurriedly flew into England on May 22, 2015, in order to undertake a critical course of treatment, which consisted of two operations, eight months of intensive chemotherapy and five weeks of radiotherapy and I have remained in England ever since then, where I have undergone intensive medical care and treatment. In the course of receiving my treatment and only one week after completing the eight-month course of treatment in my extremely aggressive chemotherapy (during which time I was erroneously put into a near fatal coma), on October 2, 2015, I was invited by the UK National Crime Agency, to the Charing Cross Police Station, London, where I was questioned for several hours and subsequently released on police bail.
Prior to that time, the officers of the NCA had invaded my personal residence and conducted a search, carting away with them several documents and other valuable items.
Since then, I have consistently and severally been invited for interviews by the NCA, many of which have been serially adjourned or postponed to future dates due to no fault of mine.”she told the court
She also told the court that the EFCC broke into her Abuja residence and carted away several documents and many items of value, and that all of this was done in her absence, without any prior invitation or notice to that effect.
She said she had either read in the media or been informed by close associates and relatives, about several forfeiture orders said to have been made in respect of certain funds and property in some charges or other civil proceedings all of which were usually ascribed and allegedly said to belong to her in the media.
“I have till date never been served with any court processes in respect of all the aforementioned charges or forfeiture proceedings in Nigeria, to enable me respond, or defend myself,” she told the court
Alison-Madueke alleged that the EFCC, which had been filing the said charges or forfeiture proceedings, knew very well she resides in the UK, and had indeed on an occasion in the past, actually served a particular document on her through the NCA. She said since residing in the UK, she had been living openly and had never made any attempt to conceal her identity, location and/or home address, from any persons, or authorities, whether abroad or in Nigeria.
“The NCA is fully aware of my location in the UK” she said
She, therefore, prayed the court to vacate the order of bench warrant against her and strike out her name from the charge “in the interest of justice.”