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Alison-madueke seeks to defend self in suit against senior lawyer

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Diezani Alison-Madueke

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, yesterday prayed the Federal High Court, Lagos to join her in the suit filed against a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dele Belgore and erstwhile Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The defendants are standing trial before Justice Rilwan Aikawa for allegedly collecting N450 million from Alison-Madueke and laundering same in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

The EFCC, in the charge, claimed that the fund was part of the $115 million, which Alison-Madueke allegedly doled out to compromise the polls.

The former minister said she would like to appear in court to defend the criminal charge. At the resumed hearing yesterday, a lawyer, Obinna Onya, appeared before the judge with an application seeking to join her as one of the defendants in the suit.

The application, filed pursuant to Section 36(1), (5), (6 (a)-(e) of the constitution and sections 216 (1) (2) (3) (4) and 217 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, sought an amendment to the charges against Belgore and Suleiman, so as to join Alison-Madueke as one of the defendants. The counsel contended that contrary to the declaration by the EFCC that she was at large, the former minister was in the UK and willing to return to Nigeria to take her plea and defend the charges.

The lawyer argued that since her name had been mentioned in the charge, it would be against her right to fair hearing for the case to proceed without affording her the opportunity to defend herself.

But the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed, saying the application was not ripe for hearing as he was yet to be served.

Responding, Justice Aikawa said the court could not entertain the application until all parties had been properly served.



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