Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, dismissed an application by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, seeking to be joined as a defendant in a N450m fraud case.
Allison-Madueke, who is currently in London where she is being investigated for money laundering, had, in the application, sought an opportunity to defend the allegations in a charge filed against her, Mohammed Belgore, SAN, and a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, by the EFCC.
The former petroleum resources minister had on Oct. 6, through her lawyer, Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), urged the court to compel the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to extradite her to Nigeria from the United Kingdom to defend the charges against her.
Belgore, a governorship candidate during the 2011 Kwara State gubernatorial election, is standing trial alongside Sulaiman for allegedly receiving the sum of N450m on March 27, 2015 out of the $115,010,000 paid into Fidelity Bank Plc by Allison-Madueke.
At the last adjourned sitting on Monday, October 30, 2017, her lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, had pleaded with the court to allow her to defend herself in four of the counts in the interest of justice and fair hearing.
Also, in his address, Ikpeazu had submitted that the prosecution should remove his client’s name from the charge, if it would not give her an opportunity to defend herself by listening her as a defendant.
However, in his response, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had opposed the application, saying that it was an abuse of court process.
Oyedepo further stated that it would be unfair to the prosecution if a defendant was added at this stage in the trial, adding that the matter would have to start de novo and therefore further prolong the prosecution. Oyedepo, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the application.
Justice Aikawa adjourned the case to November 13 and 14, 2017 for continuation of trial.