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|Aondoakaa Gives Up On Ibori, Ok His Trial In Uk by walata44(m): 10:43am On Sep 22, 2009|
Aondoakaa gives up on Ibori, okays his trial in UK • Presidency probes minister’s London trip
Taiwo Adisa, Abuja
Monday, September 21, 2009
ANOTHER twist has come into the controversial prosecution of former Delta State governor, Chief James Ibori, for alleged money laundering in the United Kingdom, with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) making a 360-degree turn to support the trial.
The minister had earlier said he would not allow the prosecution of Ibori and others in London for offences allegedly committed in Nigeria, despite the existence of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between Britain and Nigeria.
He was alleged to have stopped 25 witnesses lined up by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from testifying against Ibori in a case at Southwark Crown Court in London.
He also controversially cleared Ibori and two other former governors in an alleged N6.1 billion scam in the sales of Vmobile shares belonging to the three states.
A ding-dong was said to have ensued between the anti-graft commission and the minister over the trip of the witnesses to London, with the minister coming out with a statement signed by him on Sunday to clear the air on his trip to London and stand on the trial.
The statement read “Following reports in the media on my trip to London , I wish to make the following clarifications. My mission to London has nothing to do with ongoing prosecution or investigation of anybody.
“Why I went to London was in connection with the allegation that I have stopped prosecution of all corrupt cases. And what I did was that I requested the EFCC to give me a list of all ongoing prosecution with the stages of prosecution and the next adjourned date for a better and mutual understanding between me and the Home Secretary. When I come back, I will release the list to the press on the first working day.
“I went to meet with the Home Secretary and not the Metropolitan Police. It would be mischievous to expect that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation will go low to go and discuss with the Met Police.
“On the issue of 25 witnesses needed by the Met Police, nobody has brought that information to my notice and immediately I saw the publication in the papers today, I contacted the Secretary of the EFCC, Mr. Emmanuel Akonmaye, who said they will be bringing whatever they have got from the Metropolitan Police on the next working day as regards the witnesses to testify in Ibori’s case.
“I have no request on my desk in relation to these witnesses. As soon as my office receives the request, it will be treated with dispatch and as the law requires.
“Let me make it clear on record that every Nigerian has a constitutional right of free movement and freedom of expression and therefore, the Office of the AGF will not breach the constitution by stopping anybody from testifying before any tribunal or court in Nigeria or outside, including the UK. That is the true fact.
“Lastly, these people are witnesses, they are not accused persons and they have a right to go anywhere to give oral testimony.
“So, the issue of trying to blackmail people and trying to create sensation does not arise. I will never prevent any Nigerian from testifying.”
However, indications emerged at the weekend that the Presidency had asked the State Security Service (SSS) to probe last week’s trip by Aondoakaa to London to prove the innocence of former Governor Ibori in the Vmobile $1.6 billion shares sale scandal.
Sources told the Nigerian Tribune that the government was shocked to discover that the trip was aimed at defending an individual.
A source said that contrary to the indication given by the minister while embarking on the trip, he actually went to London to defend the former governor of Delta State.
The minister was said to have travelled on the pretext that he was going to attend to issues relating to the Nigerian/British trade mission.
The source said that on paper, the minister was to attend some programmes alongside the Nigerian Ambassador to the United Kingdom (UK), Senator Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, but the trip was exclusively turned into an avenue to defend the former governors who were being investigated by the London Metropolitan Police.
An official in the administration told the Nigerian Tribune that the image of the country was at stake in this matter and the minister had stuck his neck out too far.
A source said on Sunday “there is the feeling that the government of Nigeria was doing all it could to prove the innocence of the former governors. The UK police said they have evidence against them, is it not better to allow the UK courts to sort out the matter rather than drag the Nigerian government into the matter?”
It was gathered that the SSS had been mandated to look into the circumstances of the trip with a view to determining the AGF’s true itinerary in London last week.
But a source stated that the minister actually met with the investigators in London and protested their decision to go ahead with the case against former Governor Ibori, when the Nigerian authorities had cleared the former governor.
The Metropolitan Police are said to have exclusive evidence relating to the shares proceeds scam being equally investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
They were said to be unimpressed by the arguments of the minister.
A source said the opinion of the UK investigators was that Nigeria’s anti-corruption fight had taken a nosedive with the presentations by the minister.
Another source said the SSS actually had the mandate to investigate anyone and that it was the first time a sitting minister was being investigated under this administration.
The AGF and the EFCC had been at loggerheads over the trial of former Governor Ibori in the Vmobile shares sale scam.
While the Attorney General had declared that the EFCC had cleared the three former governors, James Ibori, Bola Tinubu and Victor Attah, in the case involving the shares scam, the EFCC shot back last week, insisting that the former governors had not been cleared.
“The commission wishes to state emphatically that it has not, at any time or in any correspondence with the persons referred to in these media reports or any other person, cleared them of complicity in all matters relating to them which are either in court or still under investigation.
“It is, therefore, inappropriate to input or infer that the three former governors have been exonerated in matters that are still pending or yet to be determined by the law court which is the only competent organ of government that can pronounce guilty or innocence in matters like the ones under reference.
“The commission has to make this clarification in view of the volume of enquiries from concerned Nigerians so as to lay to rest all doubts and insinuations as to the position of the commission and its leadership in all these.
“The letter being referred to in these reports has no specific impact or reference to the cases of the three former governors as it was only an advice to a bank on the operation of a company’s account and as such, cannot speak for substantive cases being investigated.
“While not adjudging anyone guilty until proven so, the commission wishes to restate that it has not, in anyway, declared the three former governors innocent of the allegations for which they are being investigated,” the EFCC stated.
|Re: Aondoakaa Gives Up On Ibori, Ok His Trial In Uk by walata44(m): 10:47am On Sep 22, 2009|
This Anaconda must be the most poisonous, corrupt Nigerian that has ever lived.
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