EFCC denies dropping charges against Diezani


Adelani Adepegba , Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has denied dropping criminal charges against a former Minister of Petroleum Resources , Diezani Alison- Madueke and other persons indicted for money laundering .
It described the report as false and misleading , urging the public to disregard it .
A national daily ( not The Punch) had reported on Tuesday that the anti – agency had dropped the charges against the ex – petroleum minister and other defendants . But the commission ’ s spokesman , Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, explained that the EFCC took a prosecutorial decision to split the initial 14- count charge to enable separate arraignment of the defendants .
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This , he said , was sequel to the spate of adjournments that prevented the arraignment of the defendants more than one year after the case was listed.
“ At no time did the commission withdraw the charge which is still before Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court , Lagos . 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 , ” Uwujaren stated .
The agency said it was clear that the recurring excuses were ploys to frustrate the arraignment , adding that to get around this , it took a deliberate decision which it said 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 pertain to Lawal ’ s involvement in the alleged crime , which is the receipt of $ 25m from the $ 153 m 2015 Peoples Democratic Party presidential election slush fund , ” the statement said .
The EFCC stressed that the non-inclusion of other defendants in the original charge in the amended four counts did not mean that they had been exonerated of any criminal allegation .
Copyright PUNCH .


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