The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed The Federal High Court in Abuja for ordering a 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.
In a press release issued by the anti-graft coalition, its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, that “The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, received the news of the order by The Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu summoning the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, to appear for arraignment on money laundering charges with great delight”.
It would be recalled that the judge 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 said the development would make it easier for Mrs Alison-Madueke to be aware of the invitation.
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.The EFCC lawyer, in a document filed along with the motion ex-parte, said the Commission sought to question Mrs Alison-Madueke, without success, 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. He said it also wanted Mrs 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.” Mr Abdallah said the agency was investigating Mrs Alison-Madueke’s business relationships with Donald Amamgbo, Afam Nwokedi, lkpea 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.He added that Mrs Alison-Madueke was also required to clear 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.”
He said it equally wanted the ex-minister to speak on several items, documents and jewelleries 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, United States of America (USA), United Arab Emirate (UAE) and South Africa.The anti-corruption Crusader said “We want to commend the judiciary for taking this bold step. We have been at the forefront of criticizing the corrupt and shady deals perpetrated by Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke while holding public office in Nigeria.
Whereas, in saner climes, the investigation and prosecution of a criminal case of this magnitude would have been tidied up and concluded by now, it is lamentable that the case had been tardy but we are glad that after so many years this case is coming up again. We commend the courage and determination of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of The Federal High Court, Abuja for granting the ex-parte application of EFCC and for her resolve to look into the case in toto and dispesence justice accordingly.
We hope the renewed vigour the case has received with the recent court order summoning Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke would hasten the prosecution and trial of the accused”. The CACOL’S Chairman added “In recent times, we have seen public office holders after siphoning the commonwealth of the citizens of this country running into billions to advance their individual and group’s business interests without recourse to laid-down procedures and thereafter be running from pillar to post in order to evade arrest and the attendant judicial prosecution.
This is why we commend the decision of the court and also enjoin the prosecution team to do a very diligent and meticulous trial to bring Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and all her accomplices to book to serve as necessary deterrent”.