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Nigeria’s EFCC Fail In Bid To Get Arrest Warrant For Ex-Minister, Diezani

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The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, refused to grant the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) application seeking the court order on the issuance of a warrant of arrest against former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu held that an affidavit with evidence in support to proof that the earlier court summon granted the agency had failed in the extradition of Diezani must be filed by the commission before another request could be made.

Ojukwu noted that the EFCC had informed the court that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice hinted that the arrest warrant was needed to further give the international police (INTERPOL) the impetus to bring the defendant to Nigeria to answer to charges against her.

The judge, however, said it would give the anti-graft agency a room to put its house in order in the trial of the ex-minister.

“I have carefully perused the application of the prosecution. The earlier order of this court was made pursuant to Section 831 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA),” she said.

According to the judge, court orders are not made in vain.

“It is my view that the summon should have assisted in the extradition of the defendant by the Office of the AGF.

“Today, the defendant is not in court and no reason was given. I am being informed that the defendant is believed to be in the United Kingdom (UK).

“The learner counsel also informed the court that the extradition process has failed as a result of the absence of the warrant of arrest.

“But if that is the case, learner counsel shall file an affidavit to that effect supported by evidence from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

“I hereby give you time to put your house in order,” the judge held.

Justice Ojukwu then adjourned the matter until Dec. 3 for report and arraignment of the defendant.

Earlier at the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the EFCC’s Lawyer, Farouk Abdullah reminded the court of the orders it gave and that the anti-graft agency had complied with them.

“This is evident by an affidavit of compliance filed in this case and before your lordship. It was filed on Oct 8, 2020,” he said.

He said since the defendant was not in court, the EFCC would urge the court to issue an arrest warrant against Diezani.

“My lord, this honourable court issued a summon for the defendant to appear today but the defendant has failed to appear.

“Giving the aforesaid fact, I apply that a warrant of arrest be issued against the defendant pursuant to Section 83(1b) of the ACJA 2015.

“We urge the court, in making the order, to direct all law enforcement agencies and the INTERPOL to arrest the defendant anywhere she is sighted and be brought before the court to answer to the allegation made against her before this honourable court,” he said.

According to the lawyer, we are also liaising with the office of AGF and Minister of Justice to get in touch with any country that may be hosting the defendant for the purposes of extradition in line with Extradition Act and General Convention of Nations.

He said since the summon had not been able to achieve the desired result, the need for a warrant of arrest cannot be over-emphasised.

The court had, on July 24, ordered the former minister to appeal before it and answer to the money laundering charge filed against her by the EFCC.

The judge gave the ruling on an ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018 brought by the EFCC’s Lawyer, Abdullah.

Ojukwu ordered the issuance of summons on Diezani for her to be arraigned on the charge.

The EFCC had accused the former minister of fleeing the country for the UK in order to escape justice.

The judge, who ordered that the court’s summons be published on the website of the anti-corruption agency and a national daily in a conspicuous manner, said the development would make it easier for Diezani to be aware of the invitation.

Abdallah had, while arguing the motion, noted that since Diezani allegedly fled the country, it was difficult to get her back to respond to the various criminal allegations against her.

He said there was the need for a court’s summons or arrest warrant to compel her appearance in court.

The lawyer, in a document filed along with the motion ex-parte, said it sought to question Diezani, without success, in relation to many allegations against her, including “her role as the Minister of Petroleum Resources and her role in the award of Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) to Septa Energy Limited, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited by NNPC.

He said it also wanted Diezani to respond to questions about “her role in the chartering of private jets by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Ministry of Petroleum Resources and her role in the award of contracts by NNPC to Marine and Logistics Services Limited.”

Abdallah said the agency was investigating Diezani’s business relationships with Mr. Donald Amamgbo, Mr. Afam Nwokedi, Chief lkpea Leemon, Miss Olatimbo Bukola Ayinde, Mr Benedict Peters, Christopher Aire, Harcourt Adukeh, Julian Osula, Dauda Lawal, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Mr. Leno Laithan, Sahara Energy Group and Midwestern Oil Limited.

He added that Dezani was also required to clear air on “her role in financing the 2015 general elections, particularly the money that were warehoused at Fidelity Bank Plc in 2015 prior to the elections.”

He said it equally wanted the ex-minister to speak on several items, documents and Jewelry recovered from her house at No: 10, Chiluba Close, off Jose Marti Street, Asokoro, Abuja, and some identified property that was linked to her In Nigeria, UK, United States of America (USA), United Arab Emirate (UAE) and South Africa.

The judge then adjourned the matter until Oct. 28 for Diezani to attend court for the purpose of her arraignment on the pending money laundering charge.

East Africa News

Tigray: Ethiopia, U.N Reach Agreement On Provision Of Aids

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The Ethiopian government and the United Nations (U.N) have reached an agreement on the provision of access to humanitarian aids.

This was revealed by U.N officials on Wednesday, as they claim that the Ethiopian government has agreed to the provision of aids in Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital.

Ethiopia and Tigray, a powerful region in the north of the country, have been at loggerheads since the 4th of November.

The Ethiopian government accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of destroying public properties and wreaking a havoc on the state.

This led to battles between the giant of the Horn of Africa and the rebellious Tigrayan forces.

The UN, through its refugee agency, warned about the lean supply of food to the more than 100,000 refugees in Ethiopia. At least 46,000 Ethiopians have also taken refuge in neighbouring Sudan, where they are short on food supply, according to the U.N.

Read also: UN Seeks $147m Support For Ethiopians In Sudan

Also affected in the food crunch are refugees in Eritrea, Ethiopia’s closest neighbours.

African envoys had called for a truce amid the Ethiopian government’s rejection of mediation from the international community.

Mister Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia said on Monday that Mekelle has been captured, as he revealed that no civilian was hit in the process.

His claims were however rejected by the leader of the TPLF, Debretsion Gebremichael who claimed that the Ethiopian government hit civilians in its onslaught on Mekelle.

The TPLF has refused to back down from its conflict with Ethiopia, denying that the battle is not over, contrary to the claims of Mister Ahmed.

Ethiopia is gearing up for its election in 2021, with political matters forming a part of the reasons for the ongoing conflict.

Mister Ahmed postponed the Ethiopian elections in August, citing COVID-19 as the reason for the decision. The TPLF has accused the Prime Minister of illegally leading government by buying himself more time through postponement of the election.

The TPLF ruled Ethiopia for 27 years before the emergence of Mister Ahmed in 2018.

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Health

COVID-19: 281 New Cases, 3 Deaths Reported in Nigeria

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Nigeria has announced 281 new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), on its verified website on Tuesday, said the West African nation also recorded three deaths.

The NCDC said that the new infections brought the total number of cases in Nigeria to 67,838.

Data obtained from the (NCDC) website showed that Lagos State recorded the highest number of infections with 123, while the Federal Capital Territory had 64, Kaduna and Imo reported, 38 and 15 infections respectively.

Rivers had 11, Plateau 8, Ogun 5, Bayelsa and Kwara had 4 each, Bauchi and Edo had 3 each; Kano 2 and Osun 1.

The agency reports that Nigeria has so far tested 779,708 people since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced on Feb. 27, 2020.

The agency said 148 patients have recovered from COVID-190 and have been discharged from different isolation centres in the country.

“Our discharges include 61 community recoveries in Lagos State managed in line with guidelines,’’ the centre said.

The NCDC stated that there were three COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours in Nigeria.

The health agency said that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC) was activated at Level Three to coordinate the national response activities.

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Business News

Eskom Faces R5-Million Fine Over Kendal Power Station Pollution

On Friday, South Africa’s Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy notified Eskom of the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to pursue criminal prosecution.

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Eskom could face fines of up to R5-million under South Africa’s air quality legislation for supplying blatantly false and misleading information about its toxic pollution at the Kendal coal-fired power station to authorities.

On 28th January 2021, the state-owned energy utility will appear in the Emalahleni regional court on four counts of environmental transgressions.

On Friday 27th November, South Africa’s Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy notified Eskom of the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to pursue criminal prosecution.

The four counts, according to the department, are related to the emission of air pollutants at concentrations exceeding emission limits set in Kendal’s atmospheric emission licence (AEL); failure to comply with the conditions and/or the requirements of the AEL; committing an act likely to cause significant pollution of the environment, and supplying false and/or misleading information to an air quality officer.

Albi Modise, the Chief Director of Communications at the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, says the “criminal investigation as well as the compliance notice, read with the minister’s objection decision, is based on the findings of previous site inspections” undertaken at Kendal, which is one of the country’s biggest power stations.

Read also: Electricity blackout to linger till Thursday in SA – Eskom

This is the first criminal investigation where the National Prosecuting Authority has decided to pursue a prosecution for a breach of air quality legislation by Eskom.

Business management consultancy EE Business Intelligence reported this week on the findings of an internal investigation compiled by Eskom’s audit and forensic team into Kendal’s air quality compliance and reporting.

This was instituted by the power utility’s chief executive officer, Andre de Ruyter in May.

The internal investigation found that exceedances of particulate matter atmospheric emissions of up to 10 times the allowable limit of 100mg/Nm3 occurred consistently for extended periods over the past two years at Kendal and that this was having a significant impact on people and the environment.

Between April last year and 31 March this year, EE Business Intelligence reported that the investigation found continuous and almost daily particulate matter emission exceedances by all six generation units at Kendal power station of up to 13 times the statutory particulate matter emission limit.

Related: Eskom’s bid for bigger tariffs rejected by South African court

Modise says that Eskom’s internal report notwithstanding, the department had already instituted both criminal and administrative enforcement action based on evidence that the company was in noncompliance with environmental law.

“Furthermore, and on the face of it, the contents of this report seemingly support the charges, which Eskom is currently facing,” says Modise.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland, the managing director of EE Business Intelligence, believes Eskom itself will have to face the music.

“It’s interesting as to whether people will face these consequences in their personal capacity or in their capacity as employees of Eskom. I will imagine that Eskom may be subject to sanctions. Obviously, that’s a matter for the court to decide. Frankly, there are people who bear responsibility both at the power station and at Eskom Megawatt Park,” Yelland said.

“Eskom uses load-shedding as a threat: ‘If you shut us down because we’re in non-compliance, we could have load-shedding’. But [Minister] Creecy has avoided this through phased-in shutdowns of units at Kendal,” Yelland said.

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