Money Laundering: Court orders arrest of ex-Petroleum Minister, Diezani

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The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, issued a warrant for the arrest of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the United Kingdom.

Justice Bolaji Olajuwon issued the order after he heard an oral application the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, made through its lawyer, Farouk Abdullah. EFCC said its investigations revealed that the ex-Minister who is facing several money-laundering allegations, has remained in her hideout in the UK and refused to return to the country to enter her plea to charges against her.Abdullah told the court that all efforts by the agency to get the ex-Minister extradited back to the country proved abortive.

He stressed that the warrant would enable the EFCC to persuade the International Police (INTERPOL) to arrest Diezani and also help the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to facilitate her extradition.

We urge my lord 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 this court to answer to the allegation made against her, ” EFCC’s lawyer added.

EFCC anchored the application on section 83(1b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.Meanwhile, after he had listened to the application, Justice Olajuwon granted it as prayed, even as he adjourned the case sine die (indefinitely) to await the arrest and extradition of the Defendant.It will be recalled that the court had on July 24, 2020, ordered the former Minister to appear before it to answer to the money laundering charge pending against her.The summon followed an ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018, which was filed by the EFCC.

The anti-graft agency told the court that due to Deizani’s refusal to make itself available, it published the summon on both its website and on a national daily.It will be recalled that Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu who previously handled the case before she was transferred out of Abuja, had earlier declined to issue a bench warrant against Defendant.She noted that the EFCC failed to file affidavit evidence to prove that it was unable to serve the summon that was issued by the court, on Defendant.EFCC had told the court that investigations revealed that the former Petroleum Minister was not only deeply involved in money laundering, but equally played key roles in other financial crimes.

It decried that since the ex-Minister fled the country immediately after she exited the office, it has been difficult to get her back to respond to different criminal allegations against her.In one of the documents it filed before the court, EFCC, said Diezani was among other things, wanted over the alleged role she played in the award of Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) to; Septa Energy Limited, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited by NNPC.As well as to answer questions on her role in the chartering of private jets by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and Ministry of Petroleum Resources and her role in the award of contracts by NNPC to Marine and Logistics Services Limited.

Besides, the agency said it is currently investigating the nature of business relationships the former Minister had with some persons.It listed some of Diezani’s alleged allies under investigation as Mr Donald Amamgbo, Mr. lgho Sanomi, Mr Afam Nwokedi, Chief lkpea Leemon, Miss Olatimbo Bukola Ayinde, Mr Benedict Peters, Christopher Aire, Harcourt Adukeh, Julian Osula, Dauda Lawal, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Mr Leno Laithan, Sahara Energy Group and Midwestern Oil Limited.

The EFCC said it wanted the ex-Minister to speak on several items, documents and jewellery that were recovered from her house at No: 10 Chiluba Close off Jose Marti Street, Asokoro, Abuja, and some identified properties that are linked to her In Nigeria, UK, United States of America (USA), United Arab Emirate (UAE) and South Africa.More so, the Commission told the court that it would also require Diezani to explain her role in financing the 2015 general elections, particularly the money that were warehoused at Fidelity Bank Plc in 2015, prior to the elections.

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