A federal high court in Abuja has refused an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which sought an order of arrest against Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources.
Ruling on the application on Wednesday, Ijeoma Ojukwu, the presiding judge, frowned at the anti-graft commission for failing to attach affidavit evidence showing a previous summons issued by the court against the defendant.
She said the summons and the failed extradition process of the minister must be filed before the commission can seek a warrant of arrest, adding that court orders are not made in vain.
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 in order to enable law enforcement agencies bring the defendant to Nigeria to answer to charges against her.
“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),” the judge said.
“It is my view that the summons 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.
“The learned 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, learned 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.”
Ojukwu had previously over the continued absence of the accused.
On July 24, she issued a summons against the former minister and fixed October 28, 2020, for arraignment of the defendant.
But at the resumed trial on Wednesday, Diezani was absent.
Faruk Abdullah, EFCC counsel, then asked the court to issue a warrant of arrest against the defendant.
“My lord, this honourable court issued a summons for the defendant to appear today but the defendant has failed to appear,” he said.
“Giving the aforesaid fact, I apply that a warrant of arrest be issued against the defendant pursuant to Section 83(1b) of 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.”
The matter has been adjourned till December 3, 2020, for report and arraignment of the defendant.
A high court in Adamawa, in December 2019, of Diezani for allegedly giving a bribe of N362 million to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.
– The Cable