Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja has given the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission until March 2020 to have a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, extradited to Nigeria.
The commission had in November 2018 filed 13 counts of money laundering against the ex-minister accusing her of unlawfully taking into her possession $39.7m and N3.32bn with which she allegedly bought choice properties in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt in Rivers State, while she was in office.
When the matter came up before her on Tuesday, the judge threatened to strike out the money laundering case should the anti-corruption agency fail to produce the defendant in court by March 2020.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr Faruk Abdullah, had earlier on Tuesday pleaded with the judge to adjourn the case sine die (indefinitely), on the grounds that the EFCC was facing challenges in its bid to extradite the defendant from the United Kingdom.
Diezani had been in the United Kingdom facing corruption investigations since 2015 when she left office as minister.
Abdullah told Justice Ojukwu on Tuesday that given the circumstances, it would be better for the case to be adjourned indefinitely so that it would not continue to “clog” the court’s docket.
But the judge said, “My docket is not going to be a waiting room for the prosecution. I will give you one more adjournment. If nothing happens on the next date, I will strike it out.”
In her ruling, the judge adjourned the matter till March 10 “for report or striking out.”
The prosecution on November 11, 2018, filed the 13 counts of money laundering accusing Diezani of unlawfully taking into her possession $39.7m and N3.32bn when she reasonably ought to have known that the money formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activities.
She was said to have purchased choice landed assets with the money using different fronts as the owners.
In September 2013, she allegedly used the name of Rusimpex Limited to acquire a property named Block B3 comprising of six penthouses and 18 flats at Zone N Federal Government Layout, also known as Bella Vista Estate, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos, with $37.5m.
On June 4, 2012, she was said to have used the name of Azinga Meados Limited to buy 13 three-bedroom terrace houses with one room maids’ quarters at Mabushi Gardens Estate, Abuja, with N650m.
In May 2012, she allegedly used the name of Chapel Properties to buy eight four-bedroom terrace houses, two three-bedroom penthouses, six three-bedroom apartments, two three-bedroom Mansionette , two two-bedroom apartments, one four-bedroom apartment at No. 4/6 Thorbun Avenue, and No 5 Raymond Street, Yaba, Lagos, with N937m.
She was also said to have in May 2012, purchased in the name of Blue Nile Estate Limited, 16 four-bedroom terrace houses, at Plot 2C, Omerelu Street Diobu GRA, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, with N928m.
She was also said to have in January 2011 bought in the name of Vista Point Company Limited, six flats of three-bedrooms with one boy’s quarters each, lawn tennis court, gym, garden and appurtenances, at 135 Awolowo Road/Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos State, with N805m.
The ex-minister was also said to have in December 2011, bought in the name of Sequoyah Properties Limited a property at 12, Forces Avenue, Old GRA, Port Harcourt, measuring 4,890 square metres with $2.2m.
Her alleged offences which she was said to have committed between November 20, 2011 and September 2013 were said to be contrary to section 15(2), (d) of the Money Laundering Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.