By Jerry Uwah Lagos —
A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani AllisonMadueke, yesterday urged a Federal High Court in Lagos to compel the Attorney-General of the Federation to facilitate her return to Nigeria to defend herself.
Th e prayer followed her intention to be joined in a criminal charge before a Federal High Court in Lagos, involving a senior advocate, Mr. Dele Belgore.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke is being investigated by the British government and might need the permission of Her Majesty’s government to leave the UK to be able to appear in court in Nigeria.
Belgore is charged before Justice Mohammed Aikawa alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman.
EFCC had arraigned the accused over allegations of receiving N450 million from Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
Alison-Madueke is also named in the charge, but is described as “being at large”.
When hearing resumed in the case yesterday, Mr Obinna Onya, a lawyer from Abuja, appeared before Justice Aikawa with an application seeking to join Mrs. Alison-Madueke as one of the accused in the charge.
Th e application, brought pursuant to Th e Administration of Criminal Justice Act, sought an amendment to the charges against Belgore and Suleiman, so as to join Alison-Madueke.
Th e 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 to defend the charges.
Th e 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 aff ording her the opportunity of defending herself.
Th e allegations are contained 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.
But the prosecutor, Mr 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 in court but that the prosecutor had declined service.
In his decision, Justice Aikawa said that the court could not entertain the application until all the parties had been properly served.