The Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja has dismissed all allegations of corruption, bribery, and money laundering leveled against Benedict Peters, the head of AITEO, by British and Nigerian authorities.
The accusations were described by the court as persecution, false accusations, without merit, and an abuse of governmental power.
The court ruled that Mr. Benedict Peters, an African billionaire businessman, is a person of lawful means and livelihood and that he and his companies are the true and legal owners of some properties that were incorrectly listed as being owned by Dieziani Allison-Madueke, a former minister of petroleum.
The court also granted a perpetual injunction prohibiting the UK and Nigerian governments from meddling with Mr. Peters’ assets, rights, properties, and person.
In a Suit marked SUIT NO. FCT/HC/CV/0536/17 filed by Mr. Benedict Peters and three of his companies Colinwood Limited, Rosewood Investments Limited and Walworth Properties Limited against the Attorney General of the Federation, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of the United Kingdom, Helen Hughes of the CPS, the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom and its investigators Stacey Boniface and John Bavister, the Honourable Court held that the Defendants, by fraudulent design, suppressed and misrepresented facts in supposition that the Claimants’ properties namely: 270-17 Street, Unit #4204, Atlanta, Georgia, Flat 5 Parkview, 83-86 Prince Albert Road, St. John’s Wood, London, Flat 58 Harley House Marylebone, London, and Apartment 4, 5 Arlington Road, London, legitimately acquired belonged to Mrs. Dieziani Alison Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum in Nigeria, and/or were unlawfully acquired, a fact they knew or ought to know as untrue, incorrect, which act constitutes the tort of carousel fraud.
In their amended statement of claim, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants had engaged in a conspiracy, carousel fraud, misrepresentation, and suppression of material facts that had caused hardship, severe damages, lost wages, loss of goodwill, and exposed the plaintiffs to public contempt, opprobrium, and ridicule.
The Plaintiffs further alleged that the Defendants’ fraud consisted of dishonestly and fraudulently misrepresenting the Plaintiffs’ actual ownership of their assets.
In its judgment and while upholding the averment of the Plaintiffs, the Court found that the Defendants had conspired against the Plaintiffs.
The Judge in a slam judgment also held that the predominant purpose of the deceitful sham allegations by the Defendants that the above listed Assets/Properties belonged to persons other than the Claimants was directly intended (albeit to inflict economic loss on the plaintiff just as much as it was to unlawfully profit the Defendants and also that the unlawful means of conspiracy of the Defendants was to extract by intimidation, coercion the Assets, properties and monies to which the Claimants are legitimately entitled.
The judge further held that it was unlawful for the Defendants to have approached the Southwark Court even while the Suit before Nyako J. was pending.
In a landmark Judgment that have deepened the principle of carousel tort in Nigeria, the judge declared that the British NCA, CPS and Nigeria Attorney General, EFCC by fraudulent design, suppressed and misrepresented facts in supposition that the Claimants’ properties namely: (1) 270-17 Street, Unit #4204, Atlanta, Georgia; (2) Flat 5 Parkview, 83-86 Prince Albert Road, St. John’s Wood, London; (3) Flat 58 Harley House Marylebone, London; and (4) Apartment 4, 5 Arlington Road, London, legitimately acquired, belonged to Mrs. Deziani Alison Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum in Nigeria, and/or were unlawfully acquired, a fact they knew or ought to know as untrue, incorrect, which act constitutes the tort of carousel fraud.
The court also declared that the predominant purpose of the deceitful sham allegations by the Defendants that the Assets/Properties listed in relief 1 above belonged to persons other than the Claimants was directly intended (albeit to inflict economic loss on the Claimants just as much as it was to unlawfully profit the Defendants.
The assets, properties, and money to which the Claimants are legally entitled were extracted by the Defendants using intimidation and force, it further asserted.
The Defendants (NCA, CPS, EFCC, AGF) their operatives, officers, agents, servants in whatever manner and howsoever called, were jointly or severally restrained from interfering with the proprietary rights and/or interests of the Claimants, their agents, alter-ego or privies in relation to the properties listed in this suit.
The defendants were prohibited from interfering with the person of the first claimant by arrest, criminal indictment, charge, interdiction, extradition, or in any other way that would impair his personal liberty and freedom of movement under the facts and circumstances of this case, particularly in the future.
The Claimants and the Defendants were jointly and severally awarded N200,000,000.00 (Two Hundred Million Naira only) in general damages for wrongful interference, economic loss, loss of corporate goodwill from creditors, expropriation of personal assets, and violation of the Claimants’ proprietary rights.
The Court also ruled that the EFCC’s star evidence was untrustworthy and could not be used to support their case because it was presented by someone who was not the maker, and it awarded general damages of two hundred million naira jointly and severally against the Defendants, stating in reprimand that the Defendants’ actions were an abuse of state powers.