Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, on Tuesday signified her interest to return to Nigeria and defend a criminal trial against her.
She said this while urging a Lagos Federal High Court to compel the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, to bring her back to Nigeria from the United Kingdom.
Alison-Madueke has been linked with a N450m money laundering case before the Justice Rilwan Aikawa.
Others involved in the trial include, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Dele Belgore; and a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had alleged that Belgore and Suleiman were charged for allegedly collecting N450m from Diezani and laundering the sum in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
EFCC alleged that the N450m was part of a sum of $115m which Diezani allegedly used to compromise the 2015 general elections.
She made the appeal in an application filed on her behalf before Justice Rilwan Aikwa by an Abuja based lawyer, Obinna Onya which seeks to join her as one of the defendants in the trial.
Onya noted 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.
He contended that since Diezani’s name had been linked to the charge, it would be against her right to fair hearing for the case to proceed without affording her the opportunity to defend herself.
Onya said, “The statement made by the prosecution means that the applicant (Diezani) is going to be convicted without being given the opportunity to defend herself.”
He 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.”
However, EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the application, saying it was not ripe for hearing, as he had yet to be served.
After listening to arguments by all the counsels involved in the trial, Justice Aikawa adjourned the matter till tomorrow.