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A federal court in Abuja has signed off on a warrant to arrest the head of oil major ExxonMobil in Nigeria, to compel him to appear before anti-graft investigators, a statement from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said.

The EFCC said it sought the warrant after Richard Laing, managing director of ExxonMobil Nigeria, rebuffed three invitations to appear before investigators probing alleged procurement fraud involving a pipelines project.

Justice Okon Abang granted the EFCC’s bench warrant application on January 29, the EFCC said. It has not charged Exxon or others with wrongdoing, and its investigation is ongoing.

EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren told Reuters news agency that the investigation is into the company, and not Laing personally.

“EFCC invited them in the course of the investigation but they have refused to honour the invitation, that is why we went to court to compel his appearance for investigation,” Uwujaren said.

A spokesman for Exxon declined to comment. Laing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The EFCC said the investigation related to the alleged fraudulent creation of procurement orders worth more than $213m as part of a pipelines project.

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