Court orders EFCC, DSS, police to arrest Diezani within 72 hours

Diezani Alison-Madueke

…As Ogun Customs seize 67 tokunbo vehicles, 6,015 bags of rice in one month***

The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, in Apo, Abuja, on Tuesday ordered the arrest of the immediate-past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is currently under investigation for corruption allegations in the United Kingdom.

EFCC’s acting spokesperson, Mr. Tony Orilade, said this in a statement on Tuesday.

Ruling on an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Justice Valentine Ashi, gave the anti-graft agency, the Nigerian Police Force, and the Department of States Security Service and all other security agencies to arrest her within 72 hours.

“The Inspector General of Police, the Chairman of the EFCC, the Attorney General, the Department of State Services, are hereby ordered in the name of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria to apprehend and arrest the first defendant and produce her before this court for further directives within 72 hours”, the judge ordered.

The same judge had on Monday, on the request by the EFCC, granted leave permitting the anti-graft agency to arraign her and one of her associates, Olajide Omokore, on five counts of corruption allegations.

Both the order of arrest and the charges filed before the court are part of the moves to have the former minister extradited to Nigeria from the UK.

EFCC’s Acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, had recently said the commission was planning to extradite the ex-minister to Nigeria following the commission’s dissatisfaction with ýthe handling of the case by the UK government.

Earlier praying for Alison-Maduekwe’s arrest on Tuesday, EFCC’s lawyer, Msuur Denga, said the order of arrest was to enable the commission to apprehend and arraign her for the alleged financial crimes in Nigeria.

The EFCC said it had investigated the former minister along with Omokore, a former Chairman, Atlantic Energy Drilling Company, following a petition dated October 2, 2013, from the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, bordering on money laundering and official corruption.

EFCC added in a statement, “Investigations into the petition revealed that Madueke as supervising minister of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, was found to have engaged in illicit and monumental fraudulent dealings in oil transactions, which she entered into on behalf of the Federal Government.

“Madueke and Omokore, are also alleged to have accepted and given gifts in properties located at Penthouse 22, Block B, Admiralty Estate, Ikoyi, and Penthouse 21, Building 5, Block C, Banana Island, Lagos. They are to be arraigned on February 25, 2019 on a five-count for the offences, which are contrary to Sections 26(1) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

The EFCC had said Alison-Madueke left the country for the United Kingdom while investigations into the allegations against her were ongoing.

It said the former minister had since refused to honour EFCC’s invitation to return to the country to be prosecuted.

In the meantime, the Ogun State Area command of the Nigeria Customs Service has seized 67 used vehicles popularly known as Tokunbo and 1,065 bags of foreign rice smuggled into the country through various illegal routes at the Idiroko border axis in November this year.

The Area Comptroller, Ogun State, Michael Agbara, disclosed this on Tuesday  while briefing journalists about the activities  of the command.

Agbara who said the command had stepped up its anti-smuggling activities given the Yuletide period, added that 119 kegs of vegetable oil, 171 pairs of used foot wears, 15 bales of secondhand clothing, 30 cartons of frozen poultry products, were equally seized within the period under review.

Agbara said the whole seizures had a duty payable value of N395, 118, 058.

He noted that the command was determined to stem smuggling, most especially the smuggling of foreign rice, in order to sustain the tempo of aiding Federal Government’s policy on agricultural development to boost local production of rice.

Agbara also revealed that between  January  and November  this year,  a total of 44,615 bags of foreign rice were seized,  which he said more than double the seizure for the whole of 2017 which stood at 21,789 bags.

The Area Comptroller explained further that there were over 100 illegal routes (land and creeks), in the state through which the smugglers bring in contraband into the country.

He, however, warned smugglers to steer clear of the state, vowing that the command would continue hunt them to wherever they had their hideouts.

He said the command had taken delivery of additional four patrol vehicles to complement the existing ones.

He said, “The Comptroller -General of Customs has approved  four brand new patrol vehicles to the command to complement the existing ones for effective manning of our borders against security, economic and environmental  saboteurs.”

Agbara said the command had been liasing with traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the border communities to discourage their subjects from taking to smuggling.

He also advised those wishing to bring in used vehicles into the country to go through the sea ports and pay the requisite duty to the government, in order to prevent such vehicles from being seized.

He said, “If the smugglers succeed in bringing those cars in through the illegal land borders, the Customs will seize them ultimately.”