Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has taken 11 individuals and organisations to court to restrain them from further reporting on the controversial missing $20billion oil money involving the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Those sued by Alison-Madueke include: All Progressives Congress (APC), Vanguard Media Limited and its editor, Mideno Bayagbon; Leadership Newspapers Group Limited and its editor Ekele Peter Agbo; Premium Times Services Limited and its editor in chief, Dapo Olorunyomi, and Vintage Press Limited and its editor, Lekan Otufodunrin.
Others are the National Broadcasting Corporation and the Nigerian Press Council.
According to Premium Times, the application was brought before Justice AFA Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, by Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s lawyer, Godwin Obla, from Obla & Co., and sought and obtained an interim injunction restraining the defendants from “publishing or causing to be published any further defamatory statements” stating or suggesting that the minister “stole, misappropriate or colluded in the stealing of $20billion crude oil revenue”.
In the application dated March 13, 2015, Mr. Obla warned the persons and organisations to desist from “further publishing any disparaging defamatory or otherwise salacious materia (sic) as it relates to or affects our client.”
The Court directed the two government regulators to ensure Mrs. Alison-Madueke is not linked in any report regarding the alleged missing $20 billion either on broadcast media, internet, print or radio.
The court specifically ordered the media houses to “desist from publishing any materials or running any programmme alluding to the complicity or collusion” the minister in respect of “$20billion, $49billion or any other figure, howsoever computed or arrived at, which are purportedly/allegedly missing or ‘unaccounted’ for”.
It stated: “You are hereby advised to immediately ensure total compliance with the Order of the Hon. Justice Ademola and to further cease and desist forthwith from publishing any material, howsoever titled or presented and irrespective of its form and content, which alludes to any amorous, immoral, salacious and defamatory matters connected to or related with our client, including anything to do with any allegation(s) or insinuation that our client colluded, was involved with or is complicit in the matter of a purportedly/allegedly missing $20billion, $49billion or any other amount whatsoever, until the determination of the substantive suit”.
The missing $20 billion oil money was first raised by former Central Bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, who accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, of not accounting for the amount.