Corruption trial: FG rejects plea to bring back Diezani to Nigeria …as court hears ex-minister’s application Oct.30

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, says Nigeria has no immediate plan to bring back home former Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, to face trial.

Allison-Madueke, who is being investigated in the UK, had earlier urged the Federal Government to bring her back to the country to face corruption charges against her.

Malami, however, told State House correspondents in Abuja on Wednesday that bringing her back to the country would jeopardize the investigation being carried on her in the UK.

“Steps have been taken by the United Kingdom authorities on issues bothering on corrupt practices involving Nigerians.

“If Nigeria feels strongly that there is need to bring Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke here to face charges of corruption, government will not hesitate to do that.

“As things stand now, there is no need for that since the UK Government is already investigating her.

“Government will not take any decision that will jeopardize what the UK government is doing,’’ he said.

He said Madueke could request to be brought home for trial but that she should face her trial in the UK because the gravity of the offence she committed abroad was higher.

He said: “Mrs Deziani Allison-Madueke is facing charges of money laundering and acquisition of properties in the United Kingdom.

“So it is more important to face the charges there than for her to come as a mere witness in a case in Nigeria.’’

The minister further stated that the country was doing a lot in litigation and fight against corruption within and outside the country.

“The truth of the matter is that government is doing something, especially on issues of corruption and litigation in Nigeria and outside the country,” he added.

He said that there had been some understanding between Nigeria and other countries, especially the United Kingdom on recovery of stolen funds.

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed a date to hear an application filed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Mrs Alison-Madueke is seeking to be joined as a defendant in the fraud charge slammed on a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore, and a former Minister of Planning, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

She wants the court to compel the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to bring her back to Nigeria from the United Kingdom where she has been since 2015, to put up her defence in the case.

Giving his ruling on Wednesday in Lagos, Justice Mohammed Aikawa fixed October 30 to hear the application.

The EFCC had in an amended five-count named the former petroleum minister as a culprit in the criminal trial of Belgore and Sulaiman over an alleged N500 million fraud.

The anti-graft agency had claimed that the sum was part of the $115 million which the former minister allegedly doled out to compromise the 2015 general elections.

Efforts by Diezani’s lawyer, Obinna Onya, to move the application which he claimed was brought 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, was on Tuesday turned down by Justice Aikawa on the ground that he had not served all parties in the matter.

The judge said he could only hear the application after all parties have been properly served.

Onya had also argued 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. – NAN, Channels.

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