Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mike Aondoakaa (SAN), has said that the planned trial of former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, in London over allegations of money laundering would do a lot of damage to the country’s image and its judicial system.
The minister maintained that if the former governor was found liable in any of the charges against him, he should be tried in Nigeria.a
Aondoakaa, in a letter to President Umaru Yar’Adua, said he had considered the implications of the request made by one David M. Williams, Crown Prosecutor of the Fraud Prosecution Service, London, and found that he was not the competent authority to make such a request that a Nigerian citizen should be tried outside his jurisdiction.
He said that based on the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the two countries, the appropriate person to make the request is the Secretary of State for Home Department while the Attorney General and Minister of Justice could make the same on behalf of Nigerian Government.
According to him, “If James Ibori is truly guilty of corruption as alleged, he should be tried by a Nigerian court and ultimately that should become a Nigerian justice.
“This allows the people of Nigeria to see that justice is seen to be done which avoids the image of Nigeria being tarnished on an international stage,” Aondoakaa said.
In a letter withreference No. HAGF/JOI/J21/VOL.11 sent to the Home Secretary, the AGF had said that he understood that EFCC officials have been cooperating with London officials in relation to the UK’s investigation on Ibori.
Aondoakaa noted that “certain materials provided to you, which are not placed before me may prove useful in any prosecution, which may be undertaken in Nigeria against Mr. Ibori in respect of corruption allegation so as to effectively rely on the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
“This is in line with the express provisions of the MLAT and your own interpretation of same as conveyed in your letter No. ML. 104.165/1918 dated 8th November, 2004, copy of which is annexed hereto.”
The letter was the one requesting assistance of former AGF, Akin Olujinmi, to prosecute the former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye.
He said: “A perusal of your earlier response declining our request for a mutual legal assistance in respect of Joshua Dariye established that a request shall be denied where no proceedings have been instituted against the subject persons in Nigeria.”