A fresh search for the Nigeria’s erstwhile petroleum minister, Diezani Alison Madueke, started yesterday with a warrant of arrest issued by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

The court responded to an oral application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), through its lawyer, Farouk Abdullah.

EFCC said the former minister, who now resides in the UK, and who is facing a number of money laundering charges in Nigeria has not bothered to step forward and answer the charges against her.

The EFCC lawyer said all efforts by his agency to Abdullah, the current warrant issued against the former minister would enable the EFCC to persuade the International Police (INTERPOL) to arrest Diezani and also help the office of the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice to facilitate her extradition.

“We urge my lord 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 this court to answer to the allegation made against her,” EFCC’s lawyer pleaded.

EFCC said it anchored its application on section 83(1b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.

Meanwhile, after he had listened to the application, Justice Olajuwon granted it as prayed, even as he adjourned the case sine die (indefinitely) to await the arrest and extradition of the Defendant.

The court had on July 24,  2020, ordered the former Minister to appear before it to answer to the money laundering charge pending against her. The summon followed an ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018, which was filed by the EFCC.

The anti-graft agency told the court that due to Deizani’s refusal to make itself available, it published the summon on both its website and on a national daily.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, who previously handled the case before she was transferred out of Abuja, had earlier declined to issue a bench warrant against Defendant.

She noted that the EFCC failed to file affidavit evidence to prove that it was unable to serve the summon that was issued by the court, on Defendant.

EFCC had told the court that investigations revealed that the former petroleum minister was not only deeply involved in money laundering, but equally played key roles in other financial crimes.

In one of the documents it filed before the court, EFCC, said Diezani was among other things, wanted over the alleged role she played 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.

As well as to answer questions on 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.

By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja

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