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Day of reckoning under way: Court okays EFCC’s bid to prosecute Diezani, Omokore

…Fixes Feb 5 for arraignment of ex- Petroleum Minister
…Ex-Kebbi Gov, Dakingari, others for arraignment on Dec 6 over N450m fraud
The day of reckoning appears to have beaconed on former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, as the Federal Capital Territory, High Court, on Monday, granted an approval to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arraign her and Chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Company, Olajide Omokore, on February 25, 2019 on criminal charges.

Diezani Alison-Madueke and Olajide Omokore, are to be arraigned on five counts bordering on conspiracy and illegal act of accepting and giving gratifications.

Justice Valentine Ashi of the FCT High Court sitting in Apo district, on Monday, granted the EFCC leave to bring the action against the suspects, after the prosecution lawyer, Mr. Faruk Abdullahi told the court that the former minister left the country to United Kingdom while investigations were on going.

Justice Ashi also ordered the EFCC to put its house in order.

Alison-Madueke is currently in UK and she has refused to honour an invitation by the EFCC to appear at the commission, the lawyer alleged.

The suspects are to be arraigned for allegedly accepting and giving gift of properties described as penthouse 22, Block B, Admiralty Estate, Ikoyi, and penthouse 21, building 5, block C, Banana Island, Lagos.

According to EFCC, the alleged offences contravened the provisions of Sections 26(1) and 17 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

The prosecutor, Mr. Faruk Abdullahi told the court that while investigations were ongoing, the former minister left the country and is currently in the United Kingdom.

He also said that on invitation by the EFCC, Mrs. Alison-Madueke refused to honour the invitation but all process are set in place to ensure she comes back to face trial.

The counsel for the second defendant, Tayo Adeniyo (SAN), told the court that his client was not served with the charges and that his client was ready to clear his name.

It would be recalled that the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, recently hinted at a forum organised by the agency that the process to bring back the former Minister of Petroleum, Alison-Madueke, from the United Kingdom has begun.

Alison-Madueke, who is also being investigated in the UK, had last year urged the Federal Government to have her repatriated to Nigeria to face corruption charges against her but her request was considered as an attempt to evade quick trial.

However, Federal Government action on Monday is a confirmation that it had finally resolved to try Alison-Madueke in Nigeria as she has not been formally charged in UK.

It also suggests the government has abandoned its earlier stand particularly the position taken by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, in October, 2017 that Nigeria had no immediate plan to bring Alison-Madueke back home to face trial.

However, in same year, a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the final forfeiture of N7.6bn alleged loot recovered from the former minister to the Federal Government.

In making the order, Justice Abdulazeez Anka ruled that “I have read the motion on notice seeking the final forfeiture of the sum of N7.6bn reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity. I have also gone through the affidavit in support of the application.

“In the circumstances, I am of the view that the application has merit and is hereby granted as prayed. Parties have a right of appeal.”

In a related development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will on December 6, 2018 arraign a former governor of Kebbi State, Usman Saidu Dakingari, before a Federal High Court, Birnin-Kebbi, on a 13-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering.

Dakingari will be arraigned along with Sunday Dogonyaro and Garba Rabiu Kamba for allegedly conniving to collect the sum of N450 million part of the $115 million allegedly “shared” by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deizani Alison-Madueke, for the purpose of influencing the 2015 general election.

Dakingari and his co-defendants arraignment suffered series of adjournments due to their persistent absence.

On the last adjourned date, Justice Simone Amobeda gave the absentee defendants a last chance to appear before the court and take their pleas otherwise, he would “grant the prosecution’s prayers and invoke section 394 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 for the court to issue a bench warrant for their arrest”.

One of the charges reads that: “Usman Saidu Dakingari on or about the 27th March 2015 at Kebbi within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court made a cash payment of the sum of N49,640,000 (Forty Nine Million, Six Hundred and Forty Thousand Naira Only) to Alhaji Haruna Haruna without transacting through a financial institution

and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act”.

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