Court Strikes out Diezani ‘s Name from Alleged $1.6bn Crude oil Deal
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court in Wednesday struck out the name of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison -Madueke in the ongoing trial of Chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Nigeria Limited, Mr . Jide Omokore and five others standing trial over their alleged involvement in a $1.6bn crude oil fraud.
Trial Judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba struck out Diezani’s name while delivering ruling on Diezani’s motion seeking to be joined as defendant in the suit.
Omokore, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Nigeria Limited , Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd,Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere and David Mbanefo are standing trial on their alleged involvement in a $1.6bn crude oil fraud.
At the resumed trial, Diezani, who is currently under investigation by the Metropolitan Police in London over alleged financial impropriety had through her lawyer Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), applied to Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court to be joined as one of the defendants in the suit.
She predicated the request on the grounds that count 8 of the 9 count charge proffered against the six other defendants had mentioned her name even though the prosecution did not make her one of the defendants.
In the notion argued before justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, Diezani maintained that her application would not prejudice the criminal trial but rather afford her the opportunity to be heard in the interest of fair hearing.
Ikpeazu said the applicant would be grossly prejudice if the application is refused by the Court, adding that the refusal will further compound the gross violation of her Constitutional rights.
Reacting, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Aliyu Yusuf in Oppossing the motion urged the court to decline Diezani’s request to be joined as defendant.
Yusuf told the court that Diezani is currently under investigation by the Metropolitan police for several crimes and has been admitted to bail in the United Kingdom but cannot leave the country.
“The applicant seeing that the investigations 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 and the trial before this court”, Yusuf said.
He further claimed that Diezani knew she would not be able to leave the United Kingdom in view of ongoing investigation and imminent prosecution, therefore , she is seeking the order to amend the charge for her name to be included on the face of the charge in order “to escapes from investigation and prosecution in the United Kingdom under the guise that she is coming to face her trial before this court and also scuttle the trial.”
In a brief ruling, Justice Dimgba held that the EFCC can not eat its cake and have it because by including Diezani name in count eight the commission ought to make her one of the defendants.
The judge therefore struck out count 8 wherein Diezani’s name was mentioned in the suit and adjourned trial of the substantive matter till October 5 and 6.