The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has fixed October 23 to hear a suit filed by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, challenging the order obtained by the EFCC for final forfeiture of her seized assets.
Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date on Wednesday after Ms Alison-Madueke’s lawyer, Benson Igbanoi, and EFCC’s counsel, M.D. Baraya, regularised their processes in the suit.
The anti-corruption agency had planned to conduct a public sale of all the assets seized for being proceeds of crime, as ordered by courts to be permanently forfeited to the federal government.
The auctioning exercise, conducted on the seized assets believed to include Ms Alison-Madueke’s property, started on January 9.
The immediate-past chairman of EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, had recently revealed that $153 million and over 80 properties had been recovered from Ms Alison-Madueke.
She was alleged to have escaped to the United Kingdom and remained there after her exit from public office as the petroleum minister, an office she held between 2010 and 2015 under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
But the ex-minister, in her suit, sought an order extending the time to seek leave to apply to the court for an order to set aside the EFCC’s public notice issued to conduct the sale on her property.
In the motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/21/2023, dated and filed on January 6 by her lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, the former minister sought five orders from the court.
While Ms Alison-Madueke is the applicant, the EFCC is the sole respondent in the suit.
The former minister argued that the various orders were made without jurisdiction, and she was not given a fair hearing in all the proceedings leading to the orders.
She further argued that the courts were misled into making several final forfeiture orders against her assets through suppression or non-disclosure of material facts.
But the EFCC, in a counter-affidavit deposed to by Rufai Zaki, a detective with the commission, urged the court to dismiss her application.
Mr Zaki, 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.
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 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 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.
The officer said contrary to her, the final forfeiture of the assets, which were subject to the present application, was ordered by the court in 2017 and that this was not set aside or upturned on appeal.
According to him, the properties have been disposed of through due process of law.