Nigeria’s anti-graft body says it did not halt case against ex petroleum minister

Nigeria's anti-graft body says it did not halt case against ex petroleum minister

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has refuted media reports that it has withdrawn the corruption case it filed against former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The anti-graft agency spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren disclosed that the Commission never withdraw the charges brought before Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos.

However, Uwajuren revealed that the Commission split the 14-count charge to enable separate arraignment of the defendants.

In his words:

“…the only development was that the Commission took a prosecutorial decision to split the initial 14-count charge to enable separate arraignment of the defendants following a spate of adjournments that prevented the arraignment of the defendants more than one year after the case was listed”.

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The charges were first filed on November 28, 2018. Since then, every attempt to arraign the defendants had been frustrated by one excuse or the other.

In more than four times that the matter was called for arraignment, it was either that Lanre Adesanya was sick and 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.

It was clear that these recurring excuses were ploys to frustrate the arraignment. To get around this, the Commission took a deliberate decision, which was disclosed in open court, to separately prosecute the defendants in different courts.

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This explains why the four-count amended charge brought against Dauda Lawal, a former executive director of First Bank, did not include other defendants, except the two who are at large – Diezani Alison-Madueke and Ben Otti.

And the details of the offence stated therein only pertains to Lawal’s involvement in the alleged crime, which is the receipt of $25million from the $153million Peoples Democratic Party presidential election slush fund in 2015.

Uwajeren added that the non-inclusion of other defendants in the original charge in the amended four-count charge does not mean that they have been exonerated by the Commission of any criminal allegation.”

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