Money laundering: I want to be in Nigeria for trial — Diezani - TREAT P WORLD

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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Money laundering: I want to be in Nigeria for trial — Diezani

By Innocent Anaba

LAGOS— FORMER Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-
Madueke, has expressed her intention to be joined in a charge before a
Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, involving Mr Dele Belgore, SAN.

Belgore is standing trial before Justice Mohammed Aikawa alongside a former
Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman, over allegations of
receiving N450 million from Diezani, who was named in the charge but is
described as “being at large.”

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which is prosecuting
them, had also accused them of handling the said sum in cash without going
through any financial institution, an offence which contravened the provisions
of sections 1(a), 15(2)(d) and18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition)
(Amendment) Act, 2012.

The accused had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At the resumed hearing in the case, yesterday, Mr Obinna Onya, a lawyer
from Abuja, appeared before Justice Aikawa with an application seeking to
join Diezani as one of the accused in the charge.

The application, brought pursuant to the Administration of Criminal Justice
Act, sought an amendment to the charges against Belgore and Suleiman, so
as to join Diezani.

The lawyer contended that contrary to the declaration by the EFCC that
Diezani was at large, the former minister was in the United Kingdom and was
willing to return to Nigeria to defend the charges.

The lawyer argued that since Diezani’s name had been mentioned in the
charge, it will be against her right to fair hearing for the case to proceed
without affording her the opportunity of defending herself.

He prayed for an order mandating the Attorney-General of the Federation 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.

The 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 the application, 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
yesterday morning in court but that the prosecutor had declined service.
In his decision, Justice Aikawa said the court could not entertain the
application until all the parties had been properly served.

Meanwhile, the trial proceeded with the second witness for the EFCC, Usman
Zakari, continuing his testimony.

Through the witness, Oyedepo tendered two letters written to the EFCC.
The court admitted the two letters as exhibits in evidence against the
accused.

However, Oyedepo’s attempt to tender a trail of electronic mail
communication between Diezani and some bank managers, was resisted by
the defence counsels, Mr Ebun Shofunde, SAN and Olatunji Ayanlaja, SAN.
They contended that the document was not admissible as, according to
them, it did not meet the requirement of the Evidence Act.

Oyedepo sought an adjournment to counter the objection by the defence.
Justice Aikawa adjourned until October 4, for continuation of trial.

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