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Former Oil Minister Diezani Sues Nigeria’s AGF, EFCC for Libel, Demands N100bn as Damages

She told the court she’s abroad because of “aggressive breast cancer resulting in 2 operations”.

A former Minister of Petroleum in Nigeria, Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke, has slammed a N100 billion libel and defamation suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) at a federal high court in Abuja.
She also informed the court that she had been away from the country since May 2015 because of cancer treatment.
In the suit filed at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on May 26 and marked: CV/6273/2023, the former Minister who is also seeking a restraining order against the EFCC and AGF from further defamation, asked the court to order the defendants to tender a public apology which would be published in THISDAY Newspaper and two other national dailies.

The claimant in the suit filed on her behalf by her team of lawyers, led by Prof. Mike Ozekhome, SAN, accused the two defendants of deliberately maligning her person on the EFCC’s portal, wherein she was portrayed as a “common criminal” and of a “dubious and doubtful character”, “untrustworthy, unethical and a corrupt politician who promotes the evil culture of stealing from the Federal Government of Nigeria, and of corrupt enrichment,” amongst others.
According to the claimant, the EFCC and the AGF had on December 16, 2021, in a publication titled, “Diezani: EFCC uncovers additional $72.8 million in Fidelity Bank”, 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.

The claimant stated further: “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.’
The former minister claimed that these publications and many others have lowered her reputation in the eyes of right-thinking members of the public, adding that, “after those defamatory publications by the Defendants, several people, both within and outside the country, who read the publications have since called her and expressed their disappointment, saying they never knew that she was a woman of shady dubious character.”

The claimant added that “unless restrained, and ordered to publish an unreserved public apology in several online platforms and national dailies, including the THISDAY and a further retraction of the libelous publications, the Defendants will continue to publish defamatory statements against the claimant.”
Amongst reliefs she is seeking from the court are: A declaration that the publication made on December 16, 2021, titled “Diezani: EFCC uncovers additional $72.8 million in Fidelity Bank”, authored by EFCC and AGF and widely published by them is libelous, false, malicious, injurious and intended to lower the reputation and integrity of and did indeed lower the reputation and integrity of the Claimant in the estimation of right thinking members of the society within and outside Nigeria and also brought the Claimant into public ridicule, odium, contempt, derision and obloquy.
“An order restraining the 1st and 2nd Defendants, 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 the Claimant.

“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 libelous publications against the Claimant in the 1st Defendant’s publishing platform, and at the instance of both the 1st and the 2nd Defendants.”
On why she has been out of the country, she informed the court that she had been away from the country since May 2015 because of cancer treatment.
The former minister of petroleum resources said toward the end of the tenure of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, she was diagnosed with “the most aggressive form of breast cancer” which she identified as “Triple Negative Cancer”.

She said she hurriedly flew to 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”.
Since then, she said in the court papers, she has remained in England “undergoing medical care and treatment”.
The EFCC and AGF were given 14 days from the service of the summons to enter their defence.
Diezani was minister of transportation (and later mines and steel development) from 2007 to 2009 under late President Umaru Yar’Adua before serving as petroleum minister under Goodluck Jonathan from 2010 to 2015.

Alex Enumah in Abuja

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