Nigeria’s former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who has been named in several corruption scandals, got a temporary relief on Wednesday as a court declined to order her arrest. Mrs Alison-Madueke, who flew to the UK after her party, PDP, lost the 2015 presidential election, is believed to still be in the UK where she is also being investigated for money laundering. She has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. The former acting chairman of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, had said the commission was determined to extradite her to Nigeria to face corruption charges. Mr Magu even accused the UK government of shielding the former powerful minister from prosecution.
On Wednesday, however, the EFCC told a federal court in Abuja that it needed an official arrest warrant to secure her extradition. The Federal High Court in Abuja, however, turned down the EFCC’s request The judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu, said that the commission must provide evidence that an order of summon earlier issued by the court was not sufficient to extradite the former minister. “I have carefully pursued the application of the prosecution. The earlier order of the court was made pursuant to Section 831 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA). Court orders are not made in vain,” 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,” the judge held. In response, EFCC counsel, Farok Abdullah, told the court that the agency had initially complied with the court orders.
“This is evident by an affidavit of compliance filed in this case and before your lordship. It was filed on October 8, 2020,” he said. “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 honorable court,” he said. The lawyer said that the agency is working with the attorney-general to contact any country the defendant may be residing with the sole purpose of extraditing her in line with the Extradition Act and General Convention of Nations.
He also said the initial summon had not materialised, so the need for an arrest warrant is urgent. The trial judge adjourned the matter to December 3, for report and arraignment of the defendant. The former minister is facing various corruption allegations for her role in a number of cases while serving as petroleum minister including her role in the Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) with Septa Energy Limited, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited by NNPC; the chartering of private jets by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Ministry of Petroleum Resources; and her role in the award of contracts by NNPC to Marine and Logistics Services Limited.
The EFCC counsel said the agency also wanted Mrs Alison-Madueke to speak on her business relationships with Donald Amamgbo, Afam Nwokedi, Ikpea Leemon, Olatimbo Bukola Ayinde, Benedict Peters, Christopher Aire, Harcourt Adukeh, Julian Osula, Dauda Lawal, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Leno Laithan, Sahara Energy Group and Midwestern Oil Limited, and the role she played in financing the 2015 general elections, particularly the money that was allegedly warehoused at Fidelity Bank Plc in 2015 prior to the elections. The former minister is also expected to speak on several items, documents and pieces of jewelry recovered from her house at No: 10, Chiluba Close, off Jose Marti Street, Asokoro, Abuja, and some property linked to her in Nigeria, United Kingdom, United States of America, United Arab Emirates, and South Africa.