Yesterday,former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke pleaded with the Federal High Court in Lagos to compel the Attorney General of the Federation to bring her back to Nigeria from the United Kingdom, where she travelled to shortly after leaving office in 2015.
According to a report by Punch, Diezani made the plea through an application filed on Tuesday, by one Obinna Onya, a lawyer from Abuja, who appeared before Justice Aikawa with an application seeking the joining of Diezani as one of the defendants in the charge.
Diezani said she would like to appear in court in Nigeria to defend a criminal charge bordering on alleged laundering of N450m, where her name was mentioned.
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.
Belgore and Suleiman were charged before Justice Rilwan Aikawa for 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 doled out to compromise the 2015 general elections.
The SAN and the professor were arraigned on five counts, wherein Diezani’s name was mentioned, but she was declared as being “at large.”
Diezani’s application seeking to be joined in the suit was 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 as to join Diezani as one of the defendants.
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 lawyer argued that since Diezani’s 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.
“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.