THE Economic Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has debunked rumours in circulation about dropping charges against the first female President of OPEC and former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke and five others indicted in $153 million dollars election fund.
The anti-graft agency in a statement made available to The ICIR said its response was prompted by reports circulating in the social media about the withdrawal of the suit against the defendants.
Daily Trust Online had on Monday said it gathered that EFCC had withdrawn the charges filed against Diezani, Ben Otti, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Stanley Lawson, Lanre Adesanya leaving out only Dauda Lawal in the new four-count charges.
“The Commission enjoins members of the public to disregard the report which is false and misleading. At no time did the Commission withdraw the charge, which is still before Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos,” the statement read.
EFCC noted that the only change in the case is only the decision to split the initial 14-count charges so as to enable separate arraignment of the defendants.
EFCC said the decision is borne out of the consecutive actions of the defendants’ failure to appear before the court.
EFCC disclosed that since the charges were first filed on November 28, 2018, every attempt to arraign the defendants had been frustrated by one excuse or the other in order to frustrate the commission’s pursuit of the charges.
“In more than four times that the matter was called for arraignment, it was either Lanre Adesanya was sick, bedridden in a London Hospital or Nnamdi Okonkwo was hypertensive and on admission in a hospital or Stanley Lawson had had a domestic accident and could not appear in court,” the statement added.
The anti-graft agency further stated that the split to a four-count amended charge brought against Dauda Lawal, a former executive director of First Bank, did not include other defendants, Diezani Alison-Madueke and Ben Otti who have been at large.
They added that the ingredients of the offence stated in the split charges brought against Lawal are only pertaining to his involvement in the receipt of $25million from the $153million 2015 Peoples Democratic Party presidential election slush fund.
The commission wrote that the seclusion of other defendants listed in the 2018 original charge in the amended four-count charge does not mean that they have been exonerated by the Commission of any criminal allegation.