SEVERAL British crime investigators have arrived in Nigeria to gather further evidence against former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke in an indication that they may soon files charges against her in the UK.
Oil minister during the tenure of former president Dr Goodluck Jonathan, Ms Alison-Madueke has been the subject of a series of corruption probes, with the federal high court in Nigeria confiscating some of her assets and handing them over to the government. Under investigation both in Nigeria and the UK, Ms Alison-Madueke, who was in office between 2011 and 2015, has been accused of participating in largescale corruption, including using her position to allocate lucrative oil wells to close associates worth billions of dollars.
Since leaving office two years ago, Ms Alison-Madueke has taken refuge in the UK, where she was arrested and granted bail pending the filing of formal charges against her. Ms Alison-Madueke has been asked to forfeit UK properties worth over £11m and been forced to forfeit about N7.6bn hidden in a Nigerian bank to the government.
According to one report, two of her properties in Regents Park in central London, along with one in Buckinghamshire, have now been seized based on the request of Nigerian authorities. It is now believed that Ms Alison-Madueke has had to cut down her expensive lifestyle and even moved out of one of her mansions into a small rented flat.
As investigations into her activities continue, last week a group of British detectives met with their colleagues from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). So far, the EFCC has traced N47.2bn and $487.5m to the former minister but officials believe she has N23,446,300,000 and $5m in various Nigerian banks.
One EFCC source said: “Detectives from the UK have been in Nigeria for a week in line with the ongoing investigation of Diezani. It is a major case the National Crime Agency in the UK has been collaborating with the EFCC to probe.
“A few weeks ago, the EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, was also in London to compare notes with similar agencies on this case. In November 2018, Mr Magu made it clear that Nigeria was tired of waiting for the trial of Diezani by the UK but after the initial issues between EFCC and UK agencies, there were talks which revealed that those at the London end were making painstaking investigations.
“After Magu’s visit to London, the investigation of Diezani assumed enhanced dimension because some grey areas were cleared. The coming of the detectives from London was meant to fill some gaps, get additional evidence and crosscheck a few findings on their part and we are hopeful that the latest bend of investigation was in preparation for the trial of the ex-minister.”
According to the source, the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, 2019, signed into law about a week ago by President Muhammadu Buhari might help in confiscating Diezani’s assets at home and abroad. She has so far denied all the allegations.