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Court issues EFCC deadline to extradite Diezani from UK

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Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday gave 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 the sums of $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.

In a swift response, 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,” the judge added.

In her ruling, the judge adjourned the matter till March 10 “for a 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 the sums of sums of $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.

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