British police said on Tuesday they had charged former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke with bribery offences, saying they suspected she had accepted bribes in return for awarding multi-million-pounds oil and gas contracts, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Wilson Uwujaren, did not respond to an inquiry by our correspondent, concerning whether or not the anti-graft agency would testify against Mrs Alison-Madueke in the United Kingdom.
Alison-Madueke, 63, was a key figure in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, serving as petroleum minister from 2010 to 2015. She also served as president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“We suspect Diezani Alison-Madueke abused her power in Nigeria and accepted financial rewards for awarding multi-million-pound contracts.
“These charges are a milestone in what has been a thorough and complex international investigation,” said Andy Kelly, Head of the National Crime Agency’s International Corruption Unit.
The NCA said Alison-Madueke was accused of benefitting from at least 100,000 pounds in cash, chauffeur-driven cars, flights on private jets, luxury holidays for her family, and the use of multiple London properties.
Charges against her also detail financial rewards including furniture, renovation work and staff for the properties, payment of private school fees, and gifts from high-end designer shops such as Cartier jewellery and Louis Vuitton goods, the NCA said.
British police said she was currently living in St John’s Wood, an upmarket area of West London, and would appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on October 2, 2023.
The PUNCH reports that Alison-Madueke who’s being probed by the EFCC since she left office, has been dogged by corruption allegations but denies the charges. In October 2022, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the final forfeiture of two Abuja properties and two luxury cars belonging to Alison-Madueke, to the Federal Government.
The two properties are located at Plot 1854 Mohammed Mahashir Street and No. 6, Aso Drive in Abuja’s highbrow Asokoro and Maitama Districts, respectively, and are valued at $2,674,418 and N380m.
The luxury cars are a black BMW saloon with chassis number B8CV54V66629 and registration number RBC155 DH and a black Jaguar saloon with chassis number SAJAA.20 GRDMv43376, valued at N36m.
The judge gave the order forfeiting the assets to the Federal Government while ruling on the application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, in Suit No. 1122/2021 and Suit No. 1123/2021, asking for the final forfeiture of the assets.
The EFCC in a statement obtained by our correspondent said the commission had on November 29, 2021, secured the interim forfeiture of the assets in a ruling on a separate motion ex-parte filed on September 27, 2021, which prayed the court to order the interim forfeiture of the assets on the grounds of reasonable suspicion that they were proceeds of unlawful activities.
The statement read, “In granting the interim forfeiture order, Justice Olajuwon had ordered the EFCC to publish a notice in a national newspaper, inviting anyone with an interest in the assets to show the reason why they should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria. The court consequently adjourned till January 22, 2022, for a report.
However, in May 2023, Alison-Madueke instituted a suit against the EFCC and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation over what she termed a false and malicious attempt to “paint her as a common criminal”, Saturday PUNCH reported.
The matter was filed in the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division, with Suit No. CV/6273/2023, was signed by her legal representation, led by Mr Mike Ozekhome, SAN.
It had the EFCC and the AGF as the first and second defendants respectively.
Alison-Madueke requested the sum of N100m to be paid as damages for the “false accusations and publications” written against her by the EFCC.
She also added that the EFCC must apologise in at least three national dailies for the “injurious damage to her reputation”.
The EFCC, on August 8, 2017, released an expose titled, ‘EFCC traces N47.2bn, $487.5m to ex-Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke’, accusing the former minister of fraud and money laundering.
Alison-Madueke left the country shortly after leaving office in 2015.
Shortly after the EFCC publication, several other sums of money and other assets, including jewellery and houses, linked to her had been seized and forfeited to the Federal Government.
Alison-Madueke, in her suit against the EFCC and AGF, denied the allegations, adding that the publication by the anti-graft agency was ‘maliciously written and authored and/or caused to be written, authored or published to the whole world at large’.
In the statement of claim, Alison-Madueke, through her lawyer, Ozekhome, said the reason she left the country on May 22, 2015, was because she was diagnosed with ‘the most aggressive form of breast cancer – Triple Negative Cancer – and was hurriedly flown to England in order to undertake a critical course of treatment’.
Alison-Madueke further stated that ‘no money whatsoever to the tune of $72.8 million associated to her was discovered in Fidelity Bank.
“The claimant (Alison-Madueke) states that contrary to the ridiculous allegation made by the 1st defendant that the sum of N47.2 bn, $487.5 m, $2.5 bn, $72.8 m, etc, were traced to the claimant’s home and bank accounts are laughable as no home can house such an amount of cash except for the Central Bank of Nigeria; nor banks keep custody of such sums without alerting appropriate authorities.”