Federal High Court Abuja has, Wednesday, rejected a request by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) to issue an arrest warrant against the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu declined their request while recalling that the commission had failed to enforce the earlier criminal summons which the court issued on the former minister on July 24 this year.
In same July, EFCC had claimed that it was required to facilitate Diezani’s extradition to Nigeria from the United Kingdom, where she is said to be.
The EFCC had also alleged that the ex-minister eloped from Nigeria after her tenure as the Minister of Petroleum Resources ended and got wind of the plan to charge her with various offences.
To have Diezani extradited to the country, the EFCC had on November 11, 2018, filed the 13 counts’ charge of money laundering.
Other accusations levelled against the ex-minister included unlawfully possession of the sums of $39.7m and N3.32bn when she reasonably ought to have known that the money formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activities.
She was further accused of acquiring choice landed assets with the laundered money using different fronts as the owners.
Through its lawyer, Mr. Farouk Abdullah, the EFCC urged Justice Ojukwu to issue a warrant of arrest against the ex-minister after she failed to honour the summons today Wednesday.
The judge, however, rejected the request, emphasising that the criminal summons which the court issued on Diezani in the ruling of last year July 24 ought to be sufficient for the commission to process her extradition to Nigeria to face her trial.
Expressing willingness to give the extradition bid a chance to survive, Justice Ojukwu demanded an affidavit with evidence from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (the office with exclusive power to facilitate extradition) to prove that there was a need for the arrest warrant to have Diezani extradited.
“It is my view that the summons should have assisted in the extradition of the defendant by the Office of the AGF.
Today, the defendant is not in court and no reason was given,” she highlighted.
The judge added: “I am being informed that the defendant is believed to be in the United Kingdom. The learned counsel also informed the court that the extradition process has failed as a result of the absence of the warrant of arrest.”
“If that is the case, learned counsel shall file an affidavit to that effect supported by evidence from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
I hereby give you time to put your house in order,” she pronounced.
The judge, therefore, adjourned till Thursday December 3 this year for report and possible arraignment of the defendant.Follow us on social media