The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been given a deadline of March 2020 to extradite Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, back to Nigeria to make her defence over allegations of money laundering levelled against her or risk getting the suit dismissed.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, the presiding judge, issued the deadline during the case proceedings at the Federal High Court on Tuesday.
The EFCC had in November 2018 instituted a 13-count charge of money laundering against Alison-Madueke, accusing her of taking the sums of $39.7 million and N3.32 billion from government coffers, with which she allegedly used to purchase choice properties in Abuja, Lagos and Rivers states while she was in office.
However, the former minister has not been in the country to make her defence, with the case ongoing in her absence.
Upon resumption of the case on Tuesday, Faruk Abdullah, the prosecuting counsel, appealed to Justice Ojukwu to adjourn the case indefinitely, explaining that the anti-graft agency was facing challenges in its bid to extradite the Alison-Madueke from the United Kingdom, where she has been residing since she left office in 2015.
The prosecuting counsel noted that the appeal was made in order not to congest the court’s docket, taking into account the current circumstances.
However, the plea was not entirely accepted favourably by the judge.
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, 2020, “for a report or striking out”.