Justice D. Z. Senchi of Federal Capital Territory High Court, Jabi, Abuja on Friday, October 25, 2019, ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to serve the criminal charges of alleged abuse of office and money laundering in respect of the granting of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Shell and ENI, brought against a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke and others, by substituted means.
He lifted the arrest warrant earlier issued against the defendants and ruled that it would be reissued after the prosecution has served them by substituted means due to their unavailability.
The Commission had on April 17, 2019, obtained a warrant of arrest against Adoke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete, and four others over the OPL 245 scandal.
The EFCC filed criminal charges against the defendants, but having all fled the country, it has been difficult for the Commission to serve them the charges or produce them in court.
The situation forced the EFCC to apply for a warrant of arrest against them, which was granted by the court,empowering the Nigeria Police Force and Interpol arrest them, anywhere they are seen.
Again, it has been difficult to execute the warrant as the defendants remained in hiding in foreign locations, leaving the court to contend with endless adjournments in the matter.
With the development, the defendants through their counsel went to court, asking that the warrant be set aside, based on the fact that the EFCC has so far not served them any charges.
Justice Senchi obliged them, saying the application was meritorious. The trial judge stated that the EFCC ought to have served the charges to the defendants before applying for the arrest warrant that was granted to it.
The judge further ruled that the arrest warrant would be reissued against the defendants if they refused to show up in court after they have been served and upon a new application by the EFCC.