The recent death of Justice Valentine Ashi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory has compounded the inability of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to execute its planned move to have a former Minister of Petroleum Resources , Mrs Diezani Alison -Madueke , extradited from the United Kingdom.
This is in addition to the inability of the anti -graft agency to obtain the consent of the Office of the Attorney – General of the Federation, which is the only body with the powers to file an extradition request in the country where the wanted person is located .
In December 2018 , the anti-graft agency applied for a warrant of arrest against the ex -minister and filed corruption charges against her, as a condition precedent to commence the process of extraditing her from the UK where she has been since 2015 when she left office.
Granting the arrest warrant on December 4 , 2018 , Justice Ashi ordered the EFCC and other security agencies , including the Department of State Services and the Nigeria Police Force to arrest Diezani within 72 hours .
The court also fixed February 25 for the arraignment of the ex -petroleum minister and her co – accused Jide Omokore , who is a former chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Company .
But the case has continued to suffer successive adjournments as the EFCC fails to execute the arrest warrant issued by the court against the former minister on the foreign soil .
Saturday PUNCH learnt that EFCC ’s inability to make any progress in the case was largely due to lack of AGF Office ’s cooperation.
To worsen the problem , Justice Ashi, before whom the EFCC had filed some of the documents required at the preliminary stage of the extradition process, died suddenly on June 27 , 2019 .
Our correspondent , on Thursday , visited the Apo Division of the Abuja High Court where Justice Ashi was sitting until his death , and found his courtroom filled with dust and dilapidated furniture , giving an impression of a place that was not set for business in the nearest future .
Inquiries by Saturday PUNCH from court officials showed that Justice Ashi had already adjourned the case until October 10 , 2019 before his sudden death .
Findings also showed that the case had not been re – assigned to another judge.
“ The case has not been re -assigned . For cases to be urgently re – assigned under a circumstance like this , those interested in the case have to write to that effect. But as we speak that has not happened . But mind you the court is on vacation , ” a court of official told our correspondent .
Meanwhile, our correspondent, on Friday , contacted EFCC ’s spokesperson , Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, to ask if the commission had lost interest in extraditing Diezani.
Responding through a text message , Uwujaren, said, “ Kindly direct your inquiry to the Office of the Attorney -General of the Federation and Minister of Justice which is the competent authority in charge of extradition . ”
The AGF , Mr . Abubakar Malami ( SAN) , did not respond to our correspondent ’s inquiries about Diezani ’s extradition issues on Friday .
The Acting Chairman , EFCC , Ibrahim Magu , had also on different occasions expressed regrets that the UK had not demonstrated any interest in prosecuting Diezani and had blocked moves by the commission ’s operatives to interrogate her in the UK .
The EFCC said it had investigated the former minister along with co – accused , Omokore , following a petition dated October 2 , 2013 , from Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, bordering on money laundering and official corruption .
Currently , Omokore is standing trial before the Federal High Court in Abuja on charges involving about $ 1 . 6 bn alleged to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government under Diezani ’s tenure as petroleum minister .
But the commission said its fresh investigations 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 ” .