Justice Rilwan Aikawa of Federal High Court in Lagos will on October 30 hear an application by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, seeking to be joined as defendant in money laundering suit.
The former minister is seeking to be joined as defendant in a N500 million fraud charge slammed on Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dele Belgore.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had also joined in the charge, former Minister of National Planning, Abubakar Suleiman.
In essence, Mrs. Alison-Madueke wants the court to compel the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to bring her back to Nigeria from UK, where she has been since 2015, to put up her defence in the case.
The EFCC had in a five-count amended charge, named former petroleum minister as culprit in the criminal trial of Messrs. Belgore and Sulaiman over alleged N500 million fraud.
She was, however, described as being “at large “.
The anti-graft agency claimed that the N500 million was part of 115 million dollars which the former minister allegedly doled out to compromise the 2015 general elections.
Earlier efforts by Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s lawyer, Obinna Onya, to move his application on Tuesday, was turned down by Mr. Aikawa on the grounds that he was yet to serve same to all parties.
The judge said he could only hear the application after all parties had been properly served.
The lawyer also earlier contended that contrary to declaration by EFCC that Mrs. Alison-Madueke was at large, the former minister was in UK and was willing to return to Nigeria to defend the charges.
He insisted that since his client’s name had been mentioned in the charge, it would be unfair to allow the case to proceed without affording her the opportunity of self defence.
On Wednesday’s proceedings, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court that he had now been served with the application.
The court earlier took arguments from parties on the propriety or otherwise of admitting a document containing electronic mail communication between Mrs. Alison-Madueke and a bank managing director.
Mr. Oyedepo sought to tender the document (mail) during examination of the second prosecution witness, Usman Zakari.
Opposing the request, however, defence lawyers — Ebun Shofunde (SAN) and Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN) — contended that the document was not admissible because it did not meet the requirement of the Evidence Act.
They argued that the prosecution had not placed any material facts before the court to confirm the genuineness of the signature on the face of the document.
In urging the court to admit the document, the EFCC’s lawyer said the objection to the admissibility of the document by the defence was misconceived.
He argued that the certificate accompanying the document substantially complied with the provisions of Section 84 of the Evidence Act.
Mr. Oyedepo further submitted that the document sought to be tendered was certified by the officer in whose custody the mail attached to the certificate was generated.
He argued that an investigative officer such as witness in the box, could tender documents he received in the course of investigation.
He submitted that the document sought to be tendered was relevant to the case and urged the court to admit same.
After entertaining arguments from parties, Mr. Aikawa adjourned ruling and continuation of trial till October 30.
In the amended charge, the former petroleum minister was alleged to have conspired with Messrs. Belgore and Sulaiman on or about March 27, 2015, to directly take possession of N450 million, which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of unlawful act.
The trio were also alleged to have taken the said fund in cash, which exceeded the amount authorised by law, without going through financial institutions.
Messrs. Belgore and Sulaiman were also alleged to have paid N50 million to Sheriff Shagaya without going through any financial institution.
The offences contravened the provisions of sections 15(2)(d), 1(a), 16(d) and 18 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
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