Aformer minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a series of publications by the commission alleging that she stole billions while in office.
The court document filed on May 26, and seen by the Gazette on Friday, said the anti-graft authority had authored several reports in a manner that portrayed the former official “as a common looter of the national wealth and a debased and corrupt public officer.
“The publications are blatantly false and misleading,” she said in the suit.
Mrs Alison-Madueke is the claimant and the EFCC is the sole respondent, while the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, is the second defendant in the suit.
The EFCC chair, Abdulrasheed Bawa, had in May said that $153 million and over 80 properties had been recovered from Mrs Alison-Madueke.
Mrs Alison-Madueke is believed to have fled to the United Kingdom after leaving public office as the petroleum minister, a position she held between 2010 and 2015 under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
She is being investigated for money laundering in the UK, an investigation many anti-corruption activists have described as taking too long.
In Nigeria, the EFCC has named her in various corruption trials while properties worth billions of naira have been seized from her. She has since filed several lawsuits against the anti-graft authority demanding the return of her assets, which were taken in non-conviction proceedings.
She had also in January filed a lawsuit before the Federal High Court in Abuja to vacate an order obtained by the EFCC for final forfeiture of her seized assets.
But in her fresh lawsuit, Mrs Alison-Madueke demanded the sum of N100 billion as damages against the EFCC for the false publications.
She filed the suit at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) court through her counsel Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
She requested “AN ORDER directing the Defendants jointly and severally to pay to the Claimant the sum of N100,000,000,000.00 (100 billion naira) only as damages for the false, injurious, malicious and libellous publications against the Claimant in the 1st Defendant’s publishing platform, and at the instance of both the 1st and the 2nd Defendants.
She also asked the court to direct the defendants to retract the libellous publications against her in at least three (3) national newspapers, including Thisday, The Punch and The Sun Newspapers within seven (7) days from the date of judgement.
“AN ORDER directing the 1st and 2nd Defendants to retract the libellous publications against the Claimant, and also publish an unreserved apology in at least three (3) national newspapers, including Thisday, The Punch and The Sun Newspapers within seven (7) days from the date of judgement.”