The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has not withdrawn the criminal charges it filed against Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources.
The commission filed a 14-count charge of money laundering against Alison-Madueke, Dauda Lawal, a former executive director of First Bank; Ben Otti, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Stanley Lawson and Lanre Adesanya, in 2018.
They were accused of diverting $153 million public funds in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
Attempts to arraign the accused have been stalled several times.
Reacting to reports that the charges against the suspects have been withdrawn, Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC spokesman, said it is not true.
He said the suspects, including Alison-Madueke, were charged separately because some of them are frustrating the trial.
“At no time did the commission withdraw the charge, which is still before Justice Muslim Hassan of the federal high court, Lagos,” Uwujaren said.
“The only development was that the commission took a prosecutorial 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. In more than four times 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 had a domestic accident and could not appear in court.
“It was clear that these 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 and Lawal 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.”