The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, issued an arrest warrant against a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, over corruption charges pending against her.
It is the second arrest warrant to be issued against the ex-minister, who is believed to have fled to the United Kingdom since leaving office in 2015.
On December 4, 2018, a judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Valentine Ashi (now deceased), ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigerian Police Force, the States Security Service (SSS), and all other security agencies to arrest her within 72 hours.
The matter was later taken to the Federal High Court in Abuja where the EFCC filed 13 counts of money laundering against Ms Alison-Madueke in anticipation of her extradition to Nigeria.
On July 24, 2020, Ijeoma Ojukwu, the judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, handling the matter, issued a summons for the former minster to appear to answer to the charges preferred against her.
Ms Alison-Madueke ignored the summons which, anyway, could not be confirmed was served on her.
EFCC subsequently requested the judge to issue a warrant of arrest against the former minister.
But the judge turned down the request, insisting that the summons she issued was sufficient to process her extradition to Nigeria to face her trial, adding that she would not issue another order in vain.
The commission was still struggling with the extradition process which largely depends on the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), when it sought a fresh warrant of arrest from the new judge handling the case on Monday.
Bolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court in Abuja, who took over the case from Mrs Ojukwu, issued the fresh warrant of arrest against the former minister following an oral application by EFCC’s lawyer, Farouk Abdullah.
Abdullah told the court that all efforts by the agency to get the ex-minister extradited proved abortive while the matter was being handled by the former judge.
He said the summons issued by Mrs Ojukwu had not been able to achieve the intended goal of extraditing the defendant.
He explained in his oral application that an arrest warrant is a mandatory requirement needed by the AGF office to process the extradition of the former minster.
The prosecutor added that the arrest warrant needed to be given to the International Police (INTERPOL) which would effect the arrest.
He urged the court “to issue an arrest warrant against Alison-Madueke, who is believed to be in the UK to enable all law enforcement agencies and the INTERPOL to arrest her anywhere she is sighted and be brought before the court to answer to the allegation made against her before the court.”
Olajuwon then granted the application and adjourned the matter indefinitely pending when Ms Alison-Madueke would be arrested and produced in court.
Past proceedings in the case had ended in a deadlock due to Ms Alison-Madueke’s unavailability for trial and EFCC’s inability to implement the warrants of arrest and summons issued against her.