Court rejects EFCC’s plea to issue arrest warrant against Diezani Alison-Madueke
NEWSMAN, Abuja – Federal High Court in Abuja has rejected the application of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the court’s order on the issuance of a warrant of arrest against former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu held that an affidavit with evidence in support to prove 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.
“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.
According to the judge, court orders are not made in vain.
“It is my view that the summon 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. I am being informed that the defendant is believed to be in the United Kingdom (UK).
“The learner 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, learner 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 held.
Justice Ojukwu then adjourned the matter until Dec 3 for report and arraignment of the defendant.
Earlier at the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the EFCC’s Lawyer, Farouk Abdullah reminded the court of the orders it gave and that the anti-graft agency had complied with them.
“This is evident by an affidavit of compliance filed in this case and before your lordship. It was filed on Oct 8, 2020,” he said.
He said since the defendant was not in court, the EFCC would urge the court to issue an arrest warrant against Diezani.
“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.
According to the lawyer, we are also liaising with the office of AGF and Minister of Justice to get in touch with any country that may be hosting the defendant for the purposes of extradition in line with Extradition Act and General Convention of Nations.
He said since the summon had not achieved the desired result, the need for a warrant of arrest cannot be over-emphasised.
The court had on July 24, ordered the former minister to appeal before it and answer to the money laundering charge filed against her by the EFCC, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported.
The judge gave the ruling on an ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018 brought by the EFCC’s lawyer, Abdullah.
Ojukwu ordered the issuance of summons on Diezani for her to be arraigned on the charge.
The EFCC had accused the former minister of fleeing the country for the UK in order to escape justice.
The judge, who ordered that the court’s summons be published on the website of the anti-corruption agency and a national daily in a conspicuous manner, said the development would make it easier for Diezani to be aware of the invitation.