Money Laundering Trial: Court Dismisses Diezani’s Application To Return To Nigeria
A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has dismissed an application by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke urging it to compel the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, to bring her back to Nigeria.
Diezani had brought the application before the court asking to be brought back to Nigeria to defend a criminal charge bordering on alleged laundering of N450 million.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa in a ruling on the issue agreed with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that the application is misconceived and amounts to “a misuse of the court process”.
The court also held that having not been listed as a defendant in the charge, there is no offence yet being made against the Former Minister and she is “merely crying wolf where there is none”.
According to Justice Aikawa, Mrs Alison-Madueke did not also deny the claims of the EFCC that she is currently on bail in the UK where she is being investigated for several financial crimes and her filing of the application was merely a ploy to escape justice in the U.K.
The judge ruled that his court will not be used to achieve this aim. In the final analysis, he declared that Mrs Alison-Madueke’s application lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed.
The court has proceeded with the trial of the case.
It will be recalled that Mrs Alison-Madueke had travelled to the UK shortly after leaving office in 2015.
Through an application filed on her behalf by her lawyers, she said she would like to appear in court in Nigeria to defend herself in the charges made by the EFCC against a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Dele Belgore; and a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman.
Belgore and Suleiman were charged before Justice Rilwan Aikawa on February 8, 2017 for allegedly collecting N450 million from Mrs Alison-Madueke and laundering same in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
The EFCC, which filed the charges, claimed that the N450 million was part of a larger sum of $115 million which the former Petroleum Minister allegedly doled out to compromise the 2015 general elections.
The SAN and the Professor were arraigned on five counts, in four of the counts, Mrs Alison-Madueke’s name was mentioned, but she was declared as being “at large.”
In her application seeking to be joined as a defendant in the charges, the former Minister argued that since her name had been mentioned in the charge, it would be against her right to fair hearing for the case to proceed without affording her the opportunity to defend herself.
She also contended that contrary to the declaration by the EFCC that she was at large, she 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.
Her application prayed for an order “mandating the Attorney General of the Federation, being the agent of the complainant, to facilitate her prompt appearance 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.
But the EFCC had opposed the move.