Court fixes date for EFCC’s report in Diezani trial

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, fixed May 17 for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to give a report on how it has complied with the court order in the trial of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke

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Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu fixed the date following the absence of the EFCC’s lawyer, Farouk Abdullah, in court.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the matter, which was earlier fixed for report or arraignment of the ex-minister, could not proceed as neither Abdullah nor Diezani was in court.

When the matter was called, no lawyer appeared for the prosecution.

Justice Ojukwu, who fixed May 17 for report on EFCC’s compliance with court order, directed the court registrar to issue the prosecution (EFCC) counsel with the next hearing notice.

NAN reports that the court had, on Dec. 3, 2020, adjourned the matter until March 3 following the inability of the anti-graft agency to fully comply with its orders in the trial of Diezani.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu fixed the date after counsel to the EFCC, Abdullah, prayed the court for more time to enable the anti-graft agency ensure full compliance with the court orders.

“The court made some orders in the last date that this matter came up.

“The prosecutions has taken steps to ensure that the orders are complied with; that has not come to fruition yet but steps have been taken.

“In view of this, may I humbly apply that this matter be adjourned to enable the prosecution comply fully with the order of the court,” Abdullah had said.

The judge had, on Oct. 28, 2020, refused to grant the EFCC’s application seeking the court order on issuance of warrant of arrest against Alison-Madueke.

Ojukwu held that an affidavit with evidence in support to proof that the earlier court summon granted the agency had failed in the extradition of Diezani must be filed by the commission before another request could be made.

Ojukwu noted that the EFCC had informed the court that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice hinted that the arrest warrant was needed to further give the international police (INTERPOL) the impetus to bring the defendant to Nigeria to answer to charges against her.

The judge, however, said it would give the anti-graft agency a room to put its house in order in the trial of the ex-minister because court orders were not made in vain.

Abdullah had, in an application, urged the court to issue an arrest warrant against Alison-Madueke, who is believed to be in the UK, to enable all law enforcement agencies and the INTERPOL to arrest her anywhere she is sighted and be brought before the court to answer to the allegation made against her before the court.

He said since the summon had not been able to achieve the desired result, the need for a warrant of arrest cannot be overemphasised.

NAN reports that the court had, on July 24, 2020, ordered the former minister to appeal before it and answer to the money laundering charge filed against her by the EFCC.

The judge gave the ruling in an ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018 brought by Abdullah.

The EFCC had accused the former minister of fleeing the country for the UK in order to escape justice, among others.

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