Court Declines to Order Arrest of Former Petroleum Minister, Diezani

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By Alex Enumah

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday declined to make an order for the arrest of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is seeking the extradition of Diezani, to answer to corruption allegations she allegedly committed as Minister of Petroleum Resources.

The agency is specifically seeking the prosecution of the former minister over her role 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.

Diezani is also wanted to explain “her role in the chartering of private jets by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and her role in the award of contracts by NNPC to Marine and Logistics Services Limited”.

However, owing to the difficulty of the anti-graft agency to get her to court to answer to the corruption allegations, the commission had approached the court through an exparte application for the arrest and extradition of the former minister.

When the matter came up yesterday, counsel to EFCC, Mr. Farouk Abdullah, urged the court to issue an arrest warrant against Diezani for failing to appear in court.

“My lord, this honourable court issued a summon for the defendant to appear today but the defendant has failed to appear.

“Giving the aforesaid fact, I apply that a warrant of arrest be issued against the defendant pursuant to Section 83(1b) of the ACJA 2015.

“We urge the court, in making the order, to direct all law enforcement agencies and the INTERPOL to arrest the defendant anywhere she is sighted and be brought before the court to answer to the allegation made against her before this honourable court,” he said.

He said since the summon had not been able to achieve the desired result, adding that the need for a warrant of arrest cannot be over-emphasised.

The court had, on July 24, ordered the former minister to appear before it and answer to the money laundering charge filed against her by the EFCC.

However in a short ruling yesterday, the judge declined to grant the fresh request on the grounds that the commission did not file an affidavit with evidence in support to prove that the earlier court’s summon granted the agency had failed in the extradition of Diezani.

“I have carefully perused the application of the prosecution. The earlier order of this court was made pursuant to Section 831 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA),” she said.

“Today, the defendant is not in court and no reason was giving. I am being informed that the defendant is believed to be in the United Kingdom (UK).

“The 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, 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 added.

She subsequently adjourned the matter until December 3, for report and arraignment of the defendan