This is why ex minister desperately wants to return home for trial

This is why Diezani Alison-Madueke desperately wants to return home to face corruption charges levelled against her.

But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) say it knows exactly why Diezani is missing home at this time.

Diezani fled Nigeria for the UK in May of 2015 after Goodluck Jonathan lost that year’s presidential contest to incumbent Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari.

Soon after, she became a subject of interest to the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

The NCA has seized some assets linked to Diezani and she’s being investigated for a slew of crimes ranging from money laundering to corruption committed on UK soil.

She's been dragged to court by the NCA as well.

'I want to come back home'

Recently, Diezani filed an application before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

In the application, Diezani is seeking to be joined as defendant in the trial of businessman Jide Omokore.

Omokore and Diezani have been business partners and cronies for as long as anyone can remember.

Omokore is Chairman, Atlantic Energy Brass Development and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept. He is facing a nine-count charge alongside some of his other business partners.

Investigators say Omokore and his associates perpetrated a $1.6B fraud against the Nigerian people during the period Diezani was petroleum minister; thanks to illicit oil swap deals.

Omokore and his partners are due in court later this month to face their charges.

And Diezani wants to return home so badly to stand beside Omokore and Co in the dock.

On September 18, 2017, Diezani’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), suddenly filed an application asking for his client to be joined as defendant in the case against Omokore and Co.

Ikpeazu says that’s the right thing to do since Diezani’s name was mentioned in count eight of the charge sheet against her friends.

Defending herself

Ikpeazu submits that Diezani should be included as the seventh defendant so she can have “an opportunity to defend herself” against the mountain of allegations that have been levelled against her in recent times.

Diezani is also asking the court to compel the Attorney General of the Federation to bring her back to a Nigerian courtroom on the next adjourned date.

To achieve Diezani’s desires, Nigeria will have to formally write the UK to seek permission for the former petroleum resources minister to be allowed to get on a plane from London to Lagos or Abuja.

However, the EFCC says it’s not buying the 'latest trick' in the Diezani book.

Pipe dream

The anti-graft agency says Diezani only wants to escape the heat in the UK where she has since been confined to a single space as investigators run rings round her.

“The applicant realised she was being investigated, and she absconded abroad and sometimes in March this year operatives were in London, but her lawyers refused to allow the operatives interview her”, wrote EFCC Counsel M.S. Abubakar, in an 18-paragraph counter-affidavit.

The counter-affidavit reads in part: “My lord, this present application is a plot by the applicant to enable her escape prosecution in London, also to enable her come to Nigeria and scuttle the ongoing case which has already gotten to an advanced stage.”

After listening to the arguments from both parties, Justice Dimgba dismissed Diezani’s prayers and struck out the eight count in which the former minister’s name appeared.

Abubakar Malami

Pundits also suggest that Diezani is intent on returning home because it is easier to pervert the course of justice in a compromised Nigerian judiciary.

Responding to the game plan from camp Diezani, Attorney General Abubakar Malami says Diezani should perish the thought of returning home just for the purpose of being a co-defendant.

He also said it isn't in the government's immediate plans to repatriate her.

“The federal government will not take any decision that will jeopardise what the UK government is doing,” Malami said.

Malami added that “it is important for Diezani to face the charges there than for her to come as a mere witness in a case in Nigeria.

“The issue is not about fair hearing now, we are talking about investigation first and it is not within Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke’s power to ask the federal government to bring her to testify in any case in Nigeria".

Several property and millions of dollars have been traced to Diezani at home and abroad;  since she fled Nigeria in 2015.

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