The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, to appear for arraignment on money laundering charges preferred against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu gave the order in a ruling on an ex parte application shortly after it was moved by EFCC’s lawyer, Faruk Abdullah.
The judge ordered the defendant who was alleged to have fled to the United Kingdom shortly after leaving office in 2015, to appear in court to answer to the 13 counts of money laundering involving $39.7m (N14.29bn at N360 to $1) and N3.32bn said to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
Justice Ojukwu, in her ruling, ordered that the summons she issued on Friday should be published on the website of the EFCC and a national daily in a conspicuous manner.
The judge adjourned the case till October 28 for the defendant’s arraignment. Due to Diezani’s absence, the judge had repeatedly adjourned the case, which was filed on November 11, 2018.
On November 12, 2019, the judge gave EFCC till March 10, 2020 to have the ex-minister extradited from the United Kingdom to Nigeria to face trial or the charges against her would be struck out.
The judge had said she would no longer allow the case to continue to clog her docket if no progress was being made.
At the March 10, 2020 proceedings, the judge noted that from her records, EFCC had not taken any step in respect of the case to either serve the ex-minister or apply for the issuance of an arrest warrant against her since the case was filed in November 2018.
She, however, backtracked on the threat to strike out the case after EFCC’s lawyer gave her an assurance that he would file an application for the court to issue criminal summons against the former minister.