Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has dared the Federal Government to ask the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to push for her extradition to the country to face the multiple charges against her in Nigerian courts.
Mrs Allison-Madueke has been in the United Kingdom, where she travelled to shortly after the Peoples Democratic Party lost the presidential election in 2015, the party on whose platform she served as Minister of Petroleum.
Two weeks ago she had also asked to be joined in a criminal trial in the $1.6bn crude deal involving, Jide Omokore and five others, before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court in Abuja. But the EFCC had to withdraw the charges against her for the case to go ahead.
On Tuesday at a Federal High Court in Lagos, where her name featured prominently in a criminal trial bordering on alleged laundering of N450m, she asked also to be joined.
The main defendants in the charge are Dele Belgore; and a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman. They were arraigned on five counts, wherein Diezani’s name was mentioned, but she was declared as being “at large.”
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.
At the resumed proceedings in the case on Tuesday, Obinna Onya, appeared before Justice Aikawa with an application seeking the joining of Diezani as one of the defendants in the charge.
The application, 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.
He thus asked the court to order the prosecuting agency to write the UK government for extradition to defend herself in the case.
“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.
The application prayed for an order “mandating the Attorney General of the Federation, being the agent of the complainant, 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 urged Justice Aikawa to hear and determine the application before proceeding with the case on Tuesday.
But the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed him, saying the application was not ripe for hearing, as he had yet to be served.
However, Onya told the court that he had attempted to serve Oyedepo on Tuesday morning on the court premises but that the prosecutor declined, adding that his effort to serve the application at the EFCC office on Friday was also frustrated.
The EFCC lawyer advised him to drop the application at the registry of the EFCC, assuring him that the application would be accepted.
Responding, Justice Aikawa said the court could not entertain the application until all the parties had been properly served.