The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)has urged the High Court in Lagos to ignore the request of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke to brought back to Nigeria from the United Kingdom.
The Commission sees Diezani’s prayer as a cunning plan to escape justice in the UK, where, according to the EFCC, she is being investigated for several financial crimes by the Metropolitan Police.
The Commission believes that granting Diezani’s application to return to Nigeria would be against the interest of justice as her case in the UK has reached an advanced stage.
This is contained in a counter-affidavit EFCC filed in opposition to Diezani’s application before Justice Rilwan Aikawa, wherein she is seeking an order compelling the Attorney General of the Federation to facilitate her return to Nigeria.
In the application, which was filed through her lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, Diezani stated a wish to be named as a defendant in the N450m laundering and other financial crimes suit in which her name was mentioned before the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The major defendants in the charge are Dele Belgore (SAN) and a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman.
The EFCC counter-affidavit, sworn to by one of its officials, Usman Zakari, explained that Diezani declined its invitation when it began an investigation into the case involving Belgore and Suleiman sometime in 2015, and chose to go to the UK.
Efforts to interview her in London were also thwarted by her legal counsel in the UK, John Binns of BCL Solicitors. According to the EFCC, their investigators were told they lack the jurisdictional authority to interview the former minister.
“That the applicant, seeing that the investigation by the Metropolitan Police had reached advanced stage and that trial in the instant charge before this honourable court is proceeding smoothly, had designed the instant application to distract and scuttle both her investigation and imminent prosecution in the United Kingdom the trial before this honourable court.
“That the applicant, who knows full well that she is on bail in the United Kingdom where she is being investigated for several financial crimes, and that she would not be able to leave that country in view of the ongoing investigation and imminent trial, is seeking the order of this honourable court for the charge before this honourable court to be amended to include her name on the face of the charge in order for her to escape from investigation and prosecution in the United Kingdom under the guise that she is coming to face her trial before this honourable court and also to scuttle the trial before this honourable court,” the affidavit read.
Apart from the EFCC, legal counsel to Belgore, Ebun Shofunde (SAN), also kicked against the inclusion of her name. This, he said, would be unjust as the case would have to start afresh.
Justice Aikawa would rule on the petition on Wednesday when hearing on the case resumes.