The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has denied dropping money laundering charges against former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and her co-accused.
The anti-graft agency’s statement comes amid rumours of the charges against Mrs Alison-Madueke and others being dropped.
Alison-Madueke and others, including Dauda Lawal, a former executive director of First Bank of Nigeria Plc, were arraigned in 2018.
They were accused of laundering about $153 million public funds in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said in the statement on Wednesday that the commission decided to split the money laundering charges and arraign the suspects separately in order to end the delay the trial has suffered.
The commission’s decision followed the four-month ultimatum given it by the Federal High Court in Abuja to extradite Alison-Madueke to Nigeria.
She is believed to be in the UK where she is also being investigated for money laundering.
The statement said: “The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has been drawn to reports currently circulating in the social media, purporting that the Commission had dropped the criminal charge against a former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke and other persons indicted for money laundering
“The Commission enjoins members of the public to disregard the report which is 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.
“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 StanleyLawson had had a domestic accident and could not appear in court.