By Austin Ogwuda
ASABAâ€”THE London Crown has insisted that Ms. Udoamaka Okoronkwo, the second accused person in the alleged money laundering case against former Delta State governor, Chief James Ibori, by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) would not be extradited to Nigeria to face charges unless the judge currently handling the case, Justice Marcel Awokulehin, enters into an undertaken.
Justice Awokulehin had on April 27 issued a bench warrant on Ms. Okoronkwo, following an application made by EFCC lawyer over her continued absence in court.
At the resumed hearing of the case at the Federal High Court, Asaba, yesterday, leading counsel to EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Isiyaku (SAN), told the presiding Judge, Justice Marcel Awokolehin, that the position of the London Court was â€œinsulting to Nigerian judiciary and legal systemâ€.
He told the court that the extradition process had become impossible because of the request by the London Crown Court that Justice Awokolehim should enter an undertaking on behalf of the accused person, Ms Udoamaka Okoronkwo.
He stated that â€œthe Crown Court before whom the accused person is standing trial madeÂ a request to Nigeria in form of an affidavitÂ to the effect that sheÂ Â (Okoronkwo)Â should be arrested on arrival at the airportÂ and kept in custody throughout her trial.
â€œTo secure her presence, we made the undertaking, but the Crown Court Judge also said that your Lordship (Justice Awokulehin) should makeÂ the undertakingÂ and we consider this insulting, particularly when the accused person has not appeared beforeÂ your Lordship.
â€œWe cannot support this because it will amount to making rubbish of our judicial system.Â How can a judge make such an undertaking?Â Â It is not allowed,â€ he added.
Following this development, Mr. Isiyaku told the judge that the EFCC was considering dropping charges against the second accused person as well as amend the 103 count charges preferred against the accused persons to enable the trial commence properly.
The matter was adjourned to August 6, 2009.