Former Nigerian Minister on graft charge

May 5, 2010 12:00 am

, ABUJA, May 5 – A former Nigerian government minister accused of misappropriating millions of euros will face corruption charges in court Thursday, days after returning from self-imposed exile, his lawyer said.

Nasir el-Rufai, the 2003-2007 minister in charge of Nigeria\’s federal capital of Abuja, wanted to clear his name of the allegations, his lawyer Abdulakeem Mustapha said Tuesday.

"The former minister, Nasir el-Rufai, will appear before the court of law on Thursday on a nine-count charge," he said.

Rufai, a close ally of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, returned last Saturday after two years in exile.

Mustapha said he accompanied the former minister to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission offices Tuesday where he was quizzed for nine hours.

"The two parties appeared to be satisfied. He said he was coming to Nigeria to clear his name. He has submitted himself willingly," Mustapha said.

Rufai is suspected of misappropriating 32 billion naira (213 million dollars or 162 million euros) of public funds when he was in office.

He is also alleged to have reclaimed land allocated to the electricity supply agency and given it to relatives.

Commission spokesman Femi Babafemi told reporters Rufai was granted bail and Thursday\’s hearing would focus on corruption and abuse of office.

The ex-minister has said in the media that the charges against him are politically motivated.

His return to Nigeria, Africa\’s most populous country and a leading oil producer, comes as political tensions increase ahead of next year\’s presidential election.


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