Court refuses to join Alison-Madueke as defendant in alleged $1.6b oil scam
The Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday rejected the application by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to be joined as defendant in the ongoing trial of Chairman, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Nigeria Limited, Mr. Jide Omokore.
The court, however, struck out the count eight of the nine charges where Diezani’s name was mentioned, which alleged that the applicant, (Diezani), and three others did abet the commission of money laundering by certain named individuals, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.
Omokore, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Nigeria Limited, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere and David Mbanefo, are facing trial over alleged $1.6 billion crude oil fraud.
Diezani, through her counsel, Onyebuchi Ikpeazu (SAN), yesterday argued that her application would not prejudice the criminal trial but afford her the opportunity to be heard in the interest of fair-hearing.
She also told the judge that dismissing her application would amount to gross violation of her constitutional rights.But counsel to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Aliyu Yusuf, urged the court to refuse Diezani’s application.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, in his ruling, held that the EFCC could not eat its cake and have it because by including Diezani’s name in count eight, the commission ought to make her one of the defendants, saying: “It looks like a blackmail.”
The judge, who stressed that in that regard the court would have no option than to strike out count eight of the charge where Diezani’s name was mentioned, therefore, adjourned trial of the substantive matter till October 5 and 6.