Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
THE Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, rejected the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s request to issue a warrant of arrest against a former minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, believed to be residing in the United Kingdom.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu rejected the EFCC’s request for an arrest warrant, citing the commission’s failure to enforce the earlier criminal summons, which the court issued on the former minister since July 24, 2020.
The commission had in requesting for the criminal summons in July claimed that it was required to facilitate the ex-minister’s extradition to Nigeria.
Faced with the failure of the ex-minister to honour the summons on Wednesday, the EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr Farouk Abdullah, urged Justice Ojukwu to issue a warrant of arrest against her.
Ruling on the request by EFCC, Justice Ojukwu rejected it, as she noted that the criminal summons, which the court issued on Diezani in the ruling of July 24, 2020, ought to be sufficient for the commission to process her extradition to Nigeria to face her trial.
She ruled, “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.
“But 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.”
The judge adjourned till December 3 for report and possible arraignment of the defendant.
The EFCC had alleged that Diezani escaped from the country shortly after her tenure as the Minister of Petroleum Resources ended and got wind of the plan to charge her with various offences.
The commission on November 11, 2018, filed the 13 counts of money laundering to justify the bid to have her extradited to Nigeria.
Diezani was accused of, among other offences, unlawfully taking into her possession the sums of 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 said to have purchased choice landed assets with the money using different fronts as the owners.
In September 2013, she allegedly used the name of Rusimpex Limited to acquire a property named Block B3 comprising of six penthouses and 18 flats at Zone N, Federal Government Layout, also known as Bella Vista Estate, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos, with the sum of $37.5m.
On June 4, 2012, she was said to have used the name of Azinga Meados Limited to buy 13 three-bedroom terrace houses with one room maids’ quarters at Mabushi Gardens Estate, Abuja, with the sum of N650m.
Her alleged offences, which she was said to have committed between November 20, 2011 and September 2013, were said to be contrary to section 15(2), (d) of the Money Laundering Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.