Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has no reputation to protect, as the married woman has a notorious reputation and a penchant for adulterous affairs, a lawsuit claims.
The suit, filed at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja by Moremi Publishing House Limited, publishers of Osun Defender, asserts that Alison-Madueke’s illicit affairs outside her marriage have been undertaken using the nation’s wealth upon which she sat as Minister of Petroleum.
The suit is a response to a libel suit filed by Alison-Madueke in June 2015.
The defendants insist in their statement of defense that there is a treasure trove of documentation in the nation’s press as well as in various public investigations, which include the reports of the audit firms KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers on the Nigeria National Petroleum (NNPC), as well as that of the House of Representatives on the activities of Alison-Madueke.
Maintaining that they are “responsible corporate citizens of Nigeria with high ethical and professional standing” who would libel no one, the plaintiff inclusive, the defendants declared that they only publish “credible and verifiable” stories.
They cited a wide variety of published stories in different media outside of themselves which reflect a wide variety of corruption and collusion on the part of Alison-Madueke during her tenure as Minister of Petroleum.
Among others, the defendants asserted that under the Plaintiff’s watch as Minister for Petroleum Resources, 445,000 barrels of crude oil were stolen on a daily basis for about four years with no effort by Alison-Madueke to identify, initiate arrest or prosecute the criminals who were responsible for that huge theft and depletion of national wealth.
“The allegation of daily theft of crude oil was asserted by former President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo and Minister for Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on several occasions and which facts were never contradicted nor debunked by the Plaintiff and which led to the award of bogus contracts of pipeline monitoring and protection to rag-tag security formations of ex-militants and ethnic militias by the government under which the Plaintiff served as Minister,” they said.
They also recalled the House of Representatives’ investigation of Alison-Madueke for squandering about N10 billion of tax payers’ money on charter and maintenance of a Challenger 850 aircraft for unofficial use, as was widely reported in the mass media.
“The Defendants aver that, at the trial of this suit, they shall rely on opinions of average Nigerians about the Plaintiff to buttress the fact that the Plaintiff has no reputation to protect save in the coterie of her corrupt associates,” for which they underlined they will rely on various publications to prove their point.
Text of the statement of claim:
In the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory
In the Abuja Judicial Division
Holden at Abuja
Suit No: FCT/HC/CV/1712/2015
Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke …Plaintiff
Moremi Publishing House Ltd. …1st Defendant
Kola Olabisi …2nd Defendant
Statement of Defence
Save and except as is hereinafter expressly admitted, the Defendants deny each and every allegation of facts contained in the Statement of Claim as if same were herein set out and denied seriatim.
1. The 1st Defendant admits paragraph 1 of the Statement of Claim to the extent that the Plaintiff was at the relevant time of filing this action the Minister for Petroleum Resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
2. The Defendants admit paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Statement of Claim but deny that the said publications were defamatory of the Plaintiff contrary to the allegation in paragraph 4 of the Statement of Claim as the statements made in the publications are true.
3. Contrary to paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Statement of Claim, the Defendants say that:
3.1. no independent investigation has been conducted by anybody, whether the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or PriceWaterhouseCoopers, that exonerated the Plaintiff contrary to the Plaintiff’s contention;
3.2. rather, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (hereinafter referred to as PWC) in its audit report on the accounts of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), a corporation under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources presided over by the Plaintiff between April 2010 and May 2015, indicates that
a. the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) refused to open their financial statement to PWC and hence the latter could not have access to NPDC’s full accounts and records;
b. no supporting documents were provided by the NPDC for the $0.25 billion claimed by the NPDC as Nigerian Port Authority charges;
c. a sum totaling $10,257,161.07 could not be substantiated due to insufficient documents which ought to be provided by the NPDC;
d. a total of $59,324,737.01 ($59.3) Million on Charter Hire Services could not be substantiated due to lack of supporting documents which ought to be provided by the NPDC;
e. out of the $17,767,683.54 claimed as payments for manning and management fee of MT Tuma and MT Oloibiri, the sum of $6,658,588.74 could not be ascertained due to lack of supporting documents which ought to be supplied by NPDC;
f. the total claim of $5,457,006.98 out of the total claim $46,265,215.13 could not be substantiated due to lack of supporting documents. NNPC claimed the sum of $46,265,215.13 as crude transport payments during the review period, (which fell in between the Plaintiff’s service as Minister for Petroleum Resources) which was incurred on crude oil transportation from Escravos terminals to Warri refinery jetty using marine vessels;
g. the sum of $6,707,826.05 could not be substantiated due to lack of supporting documents. This forms part of the expenses allegedly incurred on marine throughput by the NNPC under the management of the Plaintiff;
h. on capital expenditure, the sum of $24,179,005.48 could not be substantiated due to insufficient supporting documents which were supposed to be provided by NPDC and NNPC under the Ministry of the Plaintiff;
i. no amount whatsoever was substantiated for the total claim on Pipeline Vandalism and Repair Cost of $11,896,654.71 and on Management Charge out Rate claim of $59,712,530.83 as no supporting documents were provided for the costs;
j. while there were documentary evidence that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had ordered that subsidy on DPK be stopped and the Executive Secretary PPPRA to the CBN Governor confirmed that PPPRA had ceased granting subsidy on Kerosene and no appropriation was made in the nation’s budget in 2012 and 2013, NNPC, under the Ministry of the Plaintiff claimed they spent $9.9 billion on kerosene without budgetary allocation;
k. whereas the sale of kerosene has been deregulated and average common man takes no benefit of the subsidy payments, yet the Plaintiff supervised the payment of huge sums of money for payment of subsidy on a deregulated product for more than two years in her ministry, the amounts paid has never been recovered and the Plaintiff did not finger any recipient of the funds for prosecution by the relevant agencies;
l. in January 2015, investigators discovered that the various NNPC (55%) portion of Oil leases (OMLs) involved in the Shell Divestments related to eight OMLs were transferred to NPDC for aggregate sum of US$1.85 billion. So far, only the sum of US$100 million had been remitted in relation to these assets and the sum of US$1.75 billion remains unremitted while the Plaintiff presides over the affairs of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. In addition, the said assets were sold for less their commercial value;
m. the total amount remitted from the sale of domestic crude amounted to $14.5 billion which is just half the total amount of $28,215,731,691 claimed by NNPC to have accrued from the total revenue generated from domestic crude sales;
n. rather than allowing the House of Representatives Committee to complete its investigation, the Plaintiff went to court and obtained an order preventing the Committee from proceeding on its investigation and the said suit is still pending till the time of filing this defence.
4. The Defendants say that, further to and in clarification of paragraph 3 above, the NNPC is a wholly-owned outfit of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) which operates through its subsidiary, NPDC, in direct petroleum exploration and production operations and the affairs of all these bodies were superintended over by the Plaintiff as the Minister for Petroleum Resources. For paragraph 3 above, the Defendants shall rely on the PWC Audit Report as reported in an on-line tabloid, Nigeria News Headline Today on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at http://www.newsheadlines.com.ng/latest- news/2015/04/28/highlights-pwc-audit-of-nnpc-accounts/ and accessed on 6/5/15 at 8:19 pm. Notice is hereby issued to the Plaintiff to produce the original of the report of PWC which is in her possession at the trial of this suit.
5. A report in The Guardian online edition on May 14 2014 confirmed that “PWC audit report confirms that $18.5 bn was diverted from NNPC account”. The Defendants shall rely on this report accessed at http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/2015/05/pwc-audit-report-confirms-18-5bn-was-diverted-from-nnpc-account-says-sanusi on Friday 5 June 2015.
6. The Defendants further aver that under the Plaintiff’s watch as Minister for Petroleum Resources, 445,000 barrels of crude oil were stolen on a daily basis for about four years without efforts by the Plaintiff to identify, initiate arrest or prosecute the criminals who were responsible for this huge theft and depletion of national wealth. The allegation of daily theft of crude oil was asserted by former President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo and Minister for Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on several occasions and which facts were never contradicted nor debunked by the Plaintiff and which led to the award of bogus contracts of pipeline monitoring and protection to rag-tag security formations of ex-militants and ethnic militias by the government under which the Plaintiff served as Minister.
7. The Defendants aver that, contrary to paragraphs 11 and 12 of the Statement of Claim, the statements contained in the said publications are true and the Plaintiff has no such reputation that can be damaged as the accounts of the Plaintiff’s stewardships in the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and, later, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, are a catalogue of unscrupulous and indecent practices characterized by profligacy, self-aggrandisement, serial scandals and wanton embezzlement.
8. The Defendants shall, in justification, rely on the House of Representatives’ investigation of the Plaintiff for squandering about 10 billion Naira of tax payers’ money on charter and maintenance of a Challenger 850 aircraft for unofficial use as reported by
i. Newswatch Times of May 9, 2014 in a report titled “Reps Probe Diezani’s N10bn Aircraft, Jonathan Media Chat” at http://www.mynewswatchtimesng.com/reps-probe-diezanis-10bn-aircraft and accessed on 6/18/15 at 2:21 pm;
ii. Premium Times report titled “House of Reps orders probe of Alison-Madueke for allegedly spending N10 billion on private jet” reported at http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/157135-house-reps-orders-probe-of-alison-madueke-for -allegedly-spending-n10billion-on-private-jet/ accessed on 6/18/15 at 2:26 pm;
iii. Punch newspapers online report of March 27 2014 titled “Diezani’s jet scandal: Reps panel under pressure, uncovers third aircraft” reported at http://www.punchng.com/news/diezanis-jet-scandal-reps-panel-under-pressure-uncovers-third-aircraft/ accessed on 6/18/15 at 2:28 pm; and
iv. Encomium Magazine online report titled “Inside Diezani Alison Madueke’s N5.1 billion Bombardier Challenger jet” reported at http://encomium.ng/inside-diezani-alison-maduekes-n5-1-billion-bombardier-challenger-jet/ accessed on 6/18/15 at 4:38 pm.
9. The Defendants further aver that the Plaintiff has been a subject of several reports of shady deals and dirty transactions relating to sale of oil blocks belonging to the Federation. The Defendants shall rely on
a. online reports of The Icon titled “Shady allocation of oil blocks: Alison-Madueke has a case to answer” reported at http://www/theiconng.com/shady-allocation-of-oil-blocks-alison-madueke-has-a-case-to-answer/ and accessed on 6/5/15 at 7:29 pm which transaction the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is still investigating as at present;
b. Punch newspapers online report of 06 March 2015 titled “Petroleum minister summoned over sale of oil blocks” reported at http://www.news24.com.ng/National/News/Petroleum-minister-summoned-over-sale-of-oil-blocks-20150306.
10. The Defendants further state that the Plaintiff, a married woman, is a personage of notorious reputation and penchant for illicit affairs which have been sustained by the nation’s oil wealth. The Defendants shall rely on the following publications to this effect:
a. an online blog, called Amazing Stories Around the World, published on Sunday 8 December 2013 a report titled “Kola Aluko’s Romance with Diezani, Omokore Exposed” which detailed the lavish lifestyle of one Kola Aluko who, according to reports, abandoned the Plaintiff after a sizzling romantic relationship and opted for the British model, Naomi Campbell. The said report is on http://amazingstoriesaroundtheworld.blogspot.com/2013/12/kola-alukos-romance-with-diezani.html and accessed on 6/5/15 at 8:49 pm;
b. a November 24, 2013 online report titled “The Dirty Secret Between Kola Aluko and Petroleum Minister, Allison Madueke Exposed” published by abusidiqu.com which details how the relationship between the Plaintiff and the said Kola Aluko went sour the latter having escaped with billions of dollars which were profits made from illegal oil deals involving the Plaintiff. The said story is on http://abusidiqu.com/dirty-secret-kola-aluko-petroleum-minister-allison-madueke-exposed/ accessed on June 6, 2015 at 12:28 pm;
c. a Wednesday November 13, 2013 online report published by NewsRescue titled “Diezani’s Hustler, Kola Aluko, his Super Yatch, Naomi Campbell and His $Billions Wealth Status” which details the expansive wealth of the said Kola Aluko and how same was made from the relationship with the Plaintiff. The said report is at http://newsrescue.com/diezanis-hustler-kola-aluko-super-yatch-naomi-campbell-billions-wealth-status/ accessed on 6/5/15 at 8:51 pm;
d. a report by Sahara Reporters on August 19, 2013 titled “Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, Accused of Blowing N2 Billion on Private Jets” detailing how the Plaintiff had been wasting Nigeria’s resources in mind-boggling and satanic splendor published at http://saharareporters.com/2013/08/19/petroleum-minister-diezani-allison-madueke-accused-blowing-n2-billion-private-jets accessed on 6/5/15 at 7:17 pm;
e. a May 26, 2015 online report published by The Icon titled “N1bn Libel Suit: Allison-Madueke and agents evading service” in which the Plaintiff was alleged to be evading service of court process in Suit No. CV/1679/15 at the FCT High Court for libel and unauthorized use of the name of one Simon Imobo-Tswan and his platform, Network of Progressive Activists as well as his GSM number to launder the Plaintiff’s image in the media via news-stories and advertorial which report was accessed at http://www.theiconng.com/n1bn-libel-suit-alison-madueke-and-agents-evading-service/.
11. The Defendants aver that, at the trial of this suit, they shall rely on opinions of average Nigerians about the Plaintiff to buttress the fact that the Plaintiff has no reputation to protect save in the coterie of her corrupt associates and shall rely on the following publications:
a. an article published online by Sahara Reporters on April 19, 2015 titled “Ten Reasons Why Diezani Alison-Madueke Must Go To Prison” by Churchill Okonkwo and accessed at http://secure.saharareporters.com/2015/04/19/ten-reasons-why-diezani-alison-madueke-must-go-prison-churchill-okonkwo on 6/5/15 at 7:59 pm;
b. an article published online by Premium Times on April 28, 2015 titled “Why the Federal Government Should Prosecute Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke” by Femi Akinfolarin and accessed at http://blogs.premiumtimesng.com on 6/5/15 at 7:55 pm;
c. the publication by Sahara Reporters of January 27, 2014 titled “Anti-Corruption Coalition Wants Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, Alison-Madueke, Removed As Alternate President of OPEC”, a report of a petition by Civil Society Network Against Corruption which detailed a number of corrupt practices of the Plaintiff as the Minister for Transportation, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, and later, Minister for Petroleum Resources, all between 2007 - 2015. The said publication is on http://saharareporters.com/2014/01/27/anti-corruption-coalition-wants-nigeria%E2%80%99s-petroleum-minister-alison-madueke-removed and accessed on 6/24/15 at 11.43 am;
d. the KPMG report on the sleaze that characterized the Plaintiff’s stewardship in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources which report described NNPC as a “House of Fraud” but was brought to public attention by Premium Times of February 1, 2012 in a write-up titled “KPMG report: 20 Nigerians EFCC should interrogate” - accessed at http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/3636-kpmg-report-20-nigeriana-efcc-should-interrogate.html on 6/24/15 at 11:58 am. The Plaintiff is hereby given notice to produce the report of KPMG which was submitted to her but was covered up for a long time until unearthed by Premium Times;
e. the editorial opinion of Punch Newspapers published online on April 1, 2014 titled “Mr President, Alison-Madueke’s cup is full” at http://www.punchng.com/editorials/mr-president-alison-madueke’s-cup-is-full and accessed on 6/24/15 at 12:54 pm.
12. The Defendants maintain that they are responsible corporate citizens of Nigeria with high ethical and professional standing and shall not libel anybody, the Plaintiff inclusive, but only publish real, credible and verifiable stories.
13. The Defendants shall rely on the defence of justification in this case as the Plaintiff has no reputation to protect.
14. The Defendants shall also rely on the defence of qualified privilege at the trial of this suit as it is part of their duties to inform the public.
15. Whereof the Defendants pray for the dismissal of the Claimant’s action with punitive and substantial costs as the said action is frivolous, vexatious and completely lacking in merit.
Dated this day of June, 2015
ü R. A. O. Adegoke,
M. A. Banire & Associates,
c/o Olujinmi & Akeredolu & Co.,
5th Floor, NICON Plaza,
Muhammadu Buhari Way,
Central Area, Abuja.
For Service On:
c/o her counsel,
Dr. Chike Amobi,
Chike Amobi & Co.,
Ambassador Albert I Osakwe House,
1473, Inner Block Road, Suit 203,
Central Business District,