EFCC Thwarts ex-Minister Alison-Madueke’s Attempt to flee trial in UK
Nigeria immediate past Minister of Petroleum, Alison-Madueke
London, September 23 (Alt Afrika) The Nigeria anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has blocked an attempt by embattled former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to return to Nigeria from London to face trial.
The attempt came as a result of an application filed by the ex-minister through her lawyer before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking to be joined as defendant in the trial of businessman Jide Omokore.
The counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), on September 18, filed an application onbehalf of the ex-Petroleum minister to be joined as defendant, based on the fact that her name was mentioned in count eight of the charge. In the application, Ikpeazu sought an amendment of the charge against Jide Omokore and others to include her as the seventh defendant, “in order to give her the opportunity to defend herself,
The former minister also requested the court to direct the Attorney General of the Federation to facilitate her appearance in court in Nigeria on the next adjourned date in October 2017. This request if granted would have requested Nigeria government requesting Britain to allow the ex-minister travel down to Nigeria to attend the court proceedings.
However, EFCC, who has interpreted the ex-minister action as a ploy to escape prosecution in the UK and frustrate the ongoing trial in Nigeria, through their counsel, M.S. Abubakar, in an 18-paragraph counter-affidavit, vehemently opposed the filing, arguing that, the applicant realized 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.
“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”, he submitted.
Justice Dimgba after hearing arguments by both parties declined to grant the application submitted by the ex-minister’s counsel and instead, struck out the eighth count in which the former minister’s name appeared, thus ended her dream of coming for trial in Nigeria at least for now.
Omokore, who is the chairman of Atlantic Energy Brass Development and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept, is facing a nine-count charge along with Victor Briggs, a former Managing Director, National Petroleum Development Company; Abiye Membere, a former Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production at the NNPC, and David Mbanefo, a former Manager, Planning and Commercial at NNPC, for an alleged $1.6 billion fraud.
Alison-Madueke who fled to London shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan lost power to President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2015, is under investigation by the UK National Crime Agency for corruption and money laundering.
Through the investigation, many assets running into several millions of pounds sterling linked to her have been frozen. Also in Nigeria, properties running to N10bn traced to her have been confiscated.