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Court grants EFCC extra time, to present Diezani in court before March 3

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ON Thursday, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja agreed to grant the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, more time to bring Diezani Alison-Madueke, former petroleum minister to face charges of money laundering.

Diezani, who is believed to have left the country for the United Kingdom shortly after leaving office in May 2015, had refused to heed the summons of the court to face trial.

Justice Ojukwu had issued criminal summons against the former petroleum minister to appear in court on July 24 but declined to grant the EFCC a warrant for her arrest, citing the commission’s failure to enforce the criminal summons she had earlier issued against the defendant.

She said the criminal summons ought to be sufficient for the commission to process her extradition to Nigeria to face her trial.

On Thursday, EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Farouk Abdullah, pleaded for more time to enable the anti-graft agency to enforce the summons issued against the former minister.

“The prosecutions have taken steps to ensure that the orders are complied with. That has not come to fruition yet, but steps have been taken.

“In view of this, may I humbly apply that this matter be adjourned to enable the prosecution to comply fully with the order of the court,” he said.

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Justice Ojukwu adjourned the case till March 3 for a report of the prosecution’s effort to produce the defendant in court and for possible arraignment.

The EFCC alleged that Diezani escaped the country shortly after her tenure as the former Minister of Petroleum Resources got wind of the plan to charge her with various offences.

Dieziani is charged by the EFCC on 13 counts of money laundering to justify the bid to have her extradited to Nigeria.

She is alleged to have unlawfully taken into her possession, the sums of $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.

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Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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