Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Petroleum Minister

By Taiye Agbaje

The trial of former Petroleum Minister Dieazani Alison-Madueke was on Monday stalled due to the strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

The matter, which was before a Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu was fixed for Monday, May 17, for the EFCC to give a report on its effort at extraditing Alison-Madueke to the country to stand her trial.

Although Justice Ojukwu had, on March 16, been transferred to the Calabar division of the court, the case was fixed for today following the absence of the EFCC’s lawyer, Farouk Abdullah, in court on March 3.

Earlier, the trial could not proceed as neither Abdullah nor Diezani was in court.

On Dec. 3, 2020, the court 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.

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

However, the judge had, on Oct. 28, 2020, refused to grant the EFCC’s application seeking the court order on the issuance of a 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.

The judge noted that the EFCC had informed the court that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) 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 over-emphasised.

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.

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

It would be recalled that the EFCC Chairman, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, had in the April edition of the agency’s in-house magazine, disclosed that the anti-corruption commission recovered $153 million from Alison-Madueke.

Bawa said the agency also recovered the final forfeiture of over 80 property in Nigeria valued at about $80 million from the former minister.

Meanwhile, the EFCC boss said he would want the former minister to face trial in Nigeria.

NAN