Home Nigeria I want to Return Home to Defend Myself – Diezani Begs Court

I want to Return Home to Defend Myself – Diezani Begs Court

Diezani Alison Madueke

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has pleaded to the Federal High Court in Lagos to order the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to bring her back home to defend her self from a criminal trial against her.

Alison-Madueke had travelled to the UK in 2015 at the end of the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

She is currently being investigated by UK and United States authorities for alleged money laundering offenses.

The main defendants in the charge are a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Dele Belgore; and a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman.

Both defendants were charged before Justice Rilwan Aikawa with allegedly collecting N450m from Diezani and laundering same in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which filed the charges, claimed that the N450m was part of a sum of $115m which Diezani allegedly shared to several people and organizations to rig the 2015 elections.

On Tuesday, when the trial resumed one Obinna Onya, a lawyer from Abuja, appeared before Justice Aikawa with an application seeking the joining of Diezani as one of the defendants in the charge.

The application, filed pursuant to Section 36(1),(5),(6 (a)-(e) of the Constitution and sections 216 (1) (2) (3) (4); and 217 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, sought an amendment to the charges against Belgore and Suleiman so that Diezani could be included as a defendant.

The lawyer contended that contrary to the declaration by the EFCC that Diezani was at large, the former minister was in the UK and was willing to return to Nigeria so that she could appear in court to take her plea and defend the charges, the Punch writes.

The lawyer argued that since Diezani’s name had been mentioned in the charge, it would be a violation of her right to fair hearing if the case continued without giving her the chance to defend herself.

“The statement made by the prosecution means that the applicant (Diezani) is going to be convicted without being given the opportunity to defend herself,” Onya told Justice Aikawa.

The lawyer asked for an order “mandating the Attorney General of the Federation, being the agent of the complainant, to facilitate the prompt appearance of the applicant in court on the next adjourned date, to take her plea and to defend the allegations made against her in counts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the charge, numbered FHC/L/35c/2017.”

But the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed him, saying the application was not ripe for hearing as he had yet to be served.

However, Onya told the court that he tried to serve Oyedepo on the court premises that morning but the EFCC lawyer had declined to be served.

The judge then ruled that the court cannot look into the application until all the parties involved has been served.