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Court Strikes Out Charge Involving Diezani Alison-Madueke in Trial of Omokore, Others in $1.6bn OMLS Fraud Case


A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday struck out one of the charges concerning the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke in a case of crude oil fraud of $1.6bn.
Chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Nigeria Limited , Jide Omokore, the company, alongside former Managing Director of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, Victor Briggs, former Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production of the NNPC, Abiye Membere, former Manager, Planning and Commercial of the NNPC, David Mbanefo. are facing $1.6bn crude oil fraud trial.
When the case resumed on Wednesday, Diezani, who is currently under investigation by the Metropolitan Police in London for several other financial crimes, through her counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), applied to Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja, to be joined as one of the defendants on the ground that count 8 of the 9 count charge had her name mentioned even though the prosecution did not make her one of the defendants.
Ikpeazu argued that her application would not prejudice the criminal trial but afford her the opportunity to be heard in the interest of fair hearing.
She also told the court that she will be grossly prejudiced by a refusal of the application which will further compound a gross violation of her constitutional rights.
But in a vehement opposition to the application, lawyer for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Aliyu Yusuf, urged the court to refuse Diezani’s application .
He said that Diezani who is in self exile is being investigated by Metropolitan Police for several crimes and has been admitted to bail in the United Kingdom but cannot leave the country.
Yusuf said that “the applicant seeing that the investigations by the Metropolitan Police had reached advanced stage and that trial in the instant charges before this honourable court is proceeding smoothly but this instant application is designed to distract and scuttle both her investigation and imminent prosecution in the United Kingdom and the trial before this court.”
He also argued that Diezani knew she would not be able to leave the United Kingdom in view of ongoing investigation and imminent prosecution, therefore, she is seeking the order to amend the charge for her name to be included on the face of the charge in order “to escapes from investigation and prosecution in the United Kingdom under the guise that she is coming to face her trial before this court in Nigeria.”
In his ruling, Justice Dimgba ruled that the EFCC can not eat its cake and have it because by including Diezani name in count eight the commission ought to make her one of the defendants.
“It is looking like a blackmail “, the Judge said, and added that the court had no option than to strike out count 8 of the charge where Diezani’s name was mentioned.
He adjourned trial of the substantive matter till October 5 and 6.

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