The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, has summoned the former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to appear before it and respond to a money laundering charge filed against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu made the order in a ruling on an ex parte application shortly after it was moved by EFCC’s lawyer, Faruk Abdullah, on Friday.
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 the 13 counts of money laundering involving $39.7 million and N3.32 billion said to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
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.
The judge adjourned the case until October 28 for the defendant’s arraignment.
The judge had repeatedly adjourned the case, which was filed on 11 November 2018, due to Diezani’s absence.
The judge had said she would no longer allow the case to continue to clog her docket without any progress made in the case.
At the 10 March 2020 proceedings, the judge noted that from her records, EFCC had not taken any step in respect of the case to either serve the Diezani or apply for the issuance of an arrest warrant against her since the case was filed in November 2018.
But she backtracked on the threat to strike out the case after EFCC’s lawyer gave her an assurance that he was going to file an application for the court to issue criminal summons against the former minister.
Faruk said he did not find it necessary to apply for an arrest warrant against the former minister since a similar order of arrest had been issued against the Diezani by the late Justice Valentine Ashi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja.
He said the arrest warrant and the gratification charges filed before the late judge as well as the money laundering charges pending before Ojukwu, were filed as part of the extradition request sent to the UK authorities.
Faruk informed the judge that Diezani rebuffed attempts by Nigerian authorities to serve documents in connection with the case on her in the UK.
He added, “We have submitted our extradition request to the UK authorities and we have done everything we needed to do.”
He then informed the judge that he would file an application for a criminal summons against Diezani as hinted by the judge.