The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, adjourned the corruption case involving a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is believed to be in the United Kingdom (U.K)
The adjournment is the latest in the series of postponements the money laundering case has suffered due to the absence of the former minister since it (case) was filed over two years ago.
Efforts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to have her extradited to Nigeria to face the charges have been stalled for many years.
Ijeoma Ojukwu, the trial judge, again adjourned the case on Wednesday for the EFCC to appear and report to the cour its efforts to enforce the criminal summons issued against the former minister as far back as July 2020.
Earlier on October 28, 2020, Ms Ojukwu refused to grant EFCC’s request for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against the former minister.
The judge had said the summons she issued on July 24, 2020, ought to be sufficient for the commission to process her extradition to Nigeria to face her trial.
She then adjourned the matter till December 3 for EFCC to report on its efforts to bring the former minister to Nigeria.
On December 3, EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Farouk Abdullah, appeared before the judge pleading for more time to enable the anti-graft agency to enforce the court summons against Ms Alison-Madueke.
The judge then adjourned till March 3, 2021 (Wednesday) for “possible arraignment” of the defendant.
But neither Ms Alison-Madueke nor the prosecuting counsel was present at Wednesday’s proceedings, a development that forced the judge to again adjourn the case.
Ms Ojukwu adjourned till May 17 for EFCC’s report of compliance.
She also directed the court registrar to issue and serve the hearing notice for the next sitting on the prosecuting counsel.
EFCC had alleged that the former minister escaped to the U.K. shortly after the end of her tenure as minister.
It alleged that she fled after she got wind of the plan to charge her with various offences of corruption allegedly perpetrated by her and her allies while she presided over the Nigerian plum petroleum sector under the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
While still struggling to have her extradited to Nigeria to face trial, EFCC had secured several court orders for the forfeiture of assets linked to her.
On November 11, 2018, the commission filed the 13 counts of money laundering against her before Ms Ojukwu.
The former official was accused of, among other charges, unlawfully taking into her possession, $39.7 million and N3.32 billion when she reasonably ought to have known that the money formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activities.
She was also accused of purchasing choice landed assets with the alleged proceeds of fraud using different fronts as the owners.
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