The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said yesterday that it did not drop the charges against a former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke and other persons, indicted for money laundering.
The Commission, through its spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, enjoined members of the public to disregard the report currently circulating on the social media purporting that the EFCC had dropped charges saying that it was false and misleading.
“At no time did the Commission withdraw the charge, which is still before Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos’’, he said. The only development, according to him, was that the Commission took a decision to split the initial 14-count charge to enable separate arraignment of the defendants, following a spate of adjournments that prevented the arraignment of the defendants more than one year after the case was listed.
The charges were first filed on November 28, 2018. Since then, every attempt to arraign the defendants had been frustrated by one excuse or the other. On about four occasions that the matter was called for arraignment, it was either that Lanre Adesanya was sick and bedridden in a London hospital or Nnamdi Okonkwo was hypertensive and on admission in a hospital or Stanley Lawson had a domestic accident and could not appear in court.
EFCC said that it was clear that those recurring excuses were ploys to frustrate the arraignment. “To get around this, the Commission took a deliberate decision, which was disclosed in open court, to separately prosecute the defendants in different courts. This explains why the four count amended charge brought against Dauda Lawal, a former executive director of First Bank, did not include other defendants, except the two who are at large( Diezani Alison-Madueke and Ben Otti). And the ingredients of the offence stated therein only pertains to Lawal’s involvement in the alleged crime, which is the receipt of $25million from the $153million 2015 Peoples Democratic Party presidential election slush fund.
“The non-inclusion of other defendants in the original charge in the amended four count charge does not mean that have been exonerated by the Commission of any criminal allegation”, Uwujaren said.
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