Justice Bolaji Olajuwon of a Federal High Court, Abuja, today January 24, issued an arrest warrant against the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, believed to be residing in the UK.
The judge granted the request after counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Farouk Abdullah, made an oral application.
The court had fixed Nov. 3, 2021 for the EFCC to give a report on its effort at extraditing Alison-Madueke to the country to stand her trial, and for possible mention of the case. But on the adjourned date, the case was stalled as neither Abdullah nor Alison-Madueke was present in court.
Justice Olajuwon then fixed today, Jan. 24, for the matter and adjourned for report or for possible mention of the matter.
Justice Olajuwon took over Diezani’s case after the initial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu was transferred to the Calabar division of the court. It would be recalled that Ojukwu had, on Oct. 28, 2020, rejected the EFCC’s prayer to issue a warrant of arrest against Alison-Madueke, citing the commission’s failure to enforce the earlier criminal summons, which the court issued on the former minister since July 24, 2020, saying court orders are not made in vain. The commission had, in requesting for the criminal summons in July 2020, claimed that it was required to facilitate the ex-minister’s extradition to Nigeria.
Faced with the failure of the ex-minister to honor the summons, the EFCC, through its lawyer, Abdullah, urged Justice Ojukwu to issue a warrant of arrest against her, saying that the extradition process failed as a result of the absence of the warrant of arrest. The judge, who turned down the request, directed the lawyer to file an affidavit to that effect supported by evidence from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and adjourned for the report and possible arraignment of the defendant (Alison-Madueke).
However, when the matter came up for hearing today, Abdullah was in court. He told the court that all efforts by the agency to get the ex-minister extradited when the matter was before Ojukwu were unsuccessful. Abdullah, who made an oral application for an arrest warrant, said the application was part of the requirements by the office of the AGF for the extradition.
He said 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.
Justice Olajuwon then granted the application and adjourned the matter sine die pending when the defendant (Alison-Madueke) is arrested and produced in court.
According to court papers, EFCC says it seeks to question Alison-Madueke, in relation to many allegations against her, including “her role as the Minister of Petroleum Resources and her role in the award of Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) to Septa Energy Limited, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited by NNPC.
The EFCC says it also wanted Alison-Madueke to respond to questions about “her role in 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 antigraft agency says it was investigating Alison-Madueke’s business relationships with Mr Donald Amamgbo, Mr Afam Nwokedi, Chief lkpea Leemon, Miss Olatimbo Bukola Ayinde, Mr Benedict Peters, Christopher Aire, Harcourt Adukeh, Julian Osula, Dauda Lawal, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Mr Leno Laithan, Sahara Energy Group and Midwestern Oil Limited, among others.
It added that Alison-Madueke was also required to clear the air on “her role in financing the 2015 general elections, particularly the money that were warehoused at Fidelity Bank Plc in 2015 prior to the elections.”
The agency added that it wanted the ex-minister to speak on several items, documents and Jeweleries recovered from her house at No: 10, Chiluba Close, off Jose Marti Street, Asokoro, Abuja, and some identified property that were linked to her In Nigeria, UK, U.S., United Arab Emirate and South Africa.