Diezani files suit seeking to vacate bench warrant against her
Former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has asked a federal high court in Abuja to set aside the bench warrant issued against her on July 24, 2020.
The News Agency of Niheria reports that Alison-Madueke, in a motion on notice by Mike Ozekhome, her counsel, sought an order extending the time within which she could seek leave to apply for the order discharging the bench warrant.
The former minister, through the request, wants to strike out her name as “a defendant in charge number; FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018″.
The motion, which has FRN as complainant/respondent, had Alison-Madueke as the sole defendant/applicant.
The former minister, in a five-ground attached with the motion, filed before Mobolaji Olajuwon, the judge, said the bench warrant was issued without jurisdiction, and ought to be set aside ex debito justitiae.
She argued that it was issued in breach of her right to a fair hearing as guaranteed by Section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as altered).
She further argued that she had neither been served with the charge sheet and proof of evidence in charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018, nor was there any other summons whatsoever in respect of the criminal charge pending against her before the court.
Alison-Madueke submitted that the court was misled into issuing the bench warrant against her based on suppression or non-disclosure of material facts.
“I have consistently and severally been invited for interviews by the UK national crime agency, many of which have been serially adjourned or postponed to future dates due to no fault of mine,” she said.
The former minister further alleged that almost contemporaneously, with the raid on her residence by officers of the NCA, the officials of the EFCC also broke into and raided her private residence in Abuja and carted away several documents and many items of value.
“All this was done in my absence and without any prior invitation or notice to that effect,” she said.
Alison-Madueke 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 monies 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.
“That I have till date has never been served with any court processes in respect of all the aforementioned charges or forfeiture proceedings in Nigeria, to enable me to respond, or defend myself,” she added.
She alleged that the EFCC usually collaborates with the NCA with regard to matters involving her, but had bluntly refused to do so in this particular case and in the Nigerian forfeiture cases that relate to her.
She prayed the court to vacate the order of bench warrant against her and struck out her name from the charge in the interest of justice.
Meanwhile, the hearing date was yet to be fixed at the time of filing the report.
Recall that the federal government, through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, had, in an ex-parte motion, sought a bench warrant against Alison-Madueke.
The presiding judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu, who granted the order on July 24, 2020, after the anti-corruption lawyer moved the motion, directed that the former minister should be arrested by local or international police anywhere she was sighted within or outside the country.
The development followed the inability of the EFCC to extradite her back to the country from the United Kingdom where she resides to stand the money laundering trial preferred against her.
However, the case was reassigned to Olajuwon following the transfer of Ojukwu to the Calabar division of the court in 2021.