Diezani Alison-Madueke Ex-Minister desperate to defend N450m fraud charge in Nigeria, dares AGF

The ex-minister is desperate to return to Nigeria to defend herself in court.

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Former Nigerian oil minister and OPEC president Diezani Alison-Madueke has been accused of corruption

(AFP)
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Embattled former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has filed a motion in court to be added as a defendant to a N450m fraud case involving her associates.

On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, Obinna Onya, a lawyer representing the former minister, filed a motion in front of the Federal High Court in Lagos to compel the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to bring her back from the United Kingdom to enter a plea for the charges.

In the motion, Onya argued that since the former minister was mentioned in the money laundering charge sheet, she had to be named as a defendant by the prosecution so that she can be afforded the opportunity to defend herself.

He also said that she is eager to return to the country to defend herself, contrary to claims by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that she was dodging investigators.

He said, "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 argued that since the former minister is willing to appear before the court, presiding judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa should allow an amendment to the charges to include her as a defendant.

The filed motion asked the court to mandate the Attorney General's office "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."

Onya further accused the prosecution team, led by counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, of frustrating his efforts to serve them with the application as several attempts have been dodged.

While he requested Justice Aikawa to put the case on hold until the application had been heard, Oyedepo countered, saying the application was not ripe for hearing, as he had yet to be served.

The presiding judge refused to entertain the application, ruling that all parties have to be properly served before it can be heard by the court.

The main defendants in the N450m money laundering case are Dele Belgore (SAN) and former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman.

They are both standing trial for allegedly collecting the sum of money from Diezani while she was minister, and laundering it in the the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

They were both arraigned on five counts by the EFCC who filed the charges and mentioned Diezani's name without including her as a defendant.

The defendants pleaded ''Not Guilty'' to the allegations of making a cash transaction of N450m on March 27, 2015, without going through any financial institution.

ALSO READ: Court clears Diezani Alison-Madueke of fraud charges

With a trail of corruption allegations against her, Diezani has been holed up in the United Kingdom where she is also waiting to stand trial for alleged bribery, corruption and money laundering.

Justice Aikawa adjourned the trial till Wednesday, October 4 after the testimony of the EFCC's second witness was objected to by the defence counsel, Ebun Shofunde (SAN) and Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN).

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