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How the Buhari government failed to prosecute the woman who bankrupts Nigeria’s oil coffers

LONDON – President Muhammadu Buhari assumed power as a democratically elected president of Nigeria on the promise that he would control and prevent corruption in government and ensure that anyone who stole from the Nigerian people will be brought to account.  On all accounts, Diezani K. Alison-Madueke, a then-powerful Nigerian politician and the first female president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has been publicly accused of stashing away billions of dollars from the Nigerian people in her various lucrative cabinet positions under the previous Nigerian administration of former president Goodluck Johnathan.

Just as it failed to prosecute the former petroleum chief, the Buhari’s administration has failed to successfully prosecute all corrupt officials in the past and current administrations because the current administration is itself vulnerable to widespread loot and graft.

President Buhari, the leader who failed in his ‘promise’ to fight the cancer of corruption

Credible sources in Nigeria revealed that the Buhari administration is itself corrupt at some level or has elements no different from corrupt officials in the past Nigerian government.  Even though President Buhari tried to show toughness by firing several officials in his government, not much has been done to prevent public theft under his watch by his top associates.  These include the Secretary-General of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal as well as the former Director General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, and the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina from the civil service.  However, corruption and theft of public funds persist in the Nigerian government.

 The curse of internal corruption within the ranks and file of the current Nigerian administration has weakened the ethical capacity and widespread support of the President and his government to prosecute previous current officials, especially the woman accused of stealing billions of dollars from the country’s oil wealth while millions of her countrymen and women died from preventable diseases and hunger in rural Nigeria.

According to Globe Afrique’s investigative analysis, Diezani Alison-Madueke has held three important and critical positions in the Nigerian federal government. After leaving Shell Oil where she held executive positions, she was first appointed Transport Minister in July 2007. On December 23, 2008, she was named as Minister of Mines and Steel Development. After Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan became acting President in February 2010, he dissolved the cabinet on 17 March 2010 and swore in new officers on 6 April 2010 with Alison-Madueke as Minister for Petroleum Resources.

Although as Minister of Petroleum Resources, Alison-Madueke pledged to transform Nigeria’s oil and gas industry so that all Nigerians benefit, she did the exact opposite.  According to PBS NewsHour quoting American and British officials, the former Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke might personally have organized a diversion of $6 billion (N1.2 trillion) from the Nigerian treasury.

She has been charged with responsibility for $20 billion missing from the Petroleum agency.

A former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Lamido Sanusi Muhammad Sanusi II, said during a PBS interview on December 2, 2015 that he believes he was fired from the Central Bank of Nigeria because he went public with charges that $2 billion was missing from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) under Alison-Madueke’s management.

Although Allison Madueke rebuffed Sanusi’s allegations, she was also later accused of awarding multi-billion Naira contracts without recourse to due process and of recklessly spending government funds as well as wasting billions of naira inappropriately on private jets. In the same vein, the Senate of Nigeria in October 2009 indicted her and recommended prosecution for the transfer of 1.2 billion nairas into the individual account of a toll company without due process and in breach of the concession agreement.

Alison-Madueke, the ex- Madam Petroleum Minister and her private jet

Alison-Madueke has also been officially charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria for ‘Money Laundering.’  While in Britain in October 2015, several international news outlets led by Reuters reported that Alison-Madueke had been arrested by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) in London, along with four other people on suspicion of bribery and corruption offenses.

Also, in Nigeria, her home in Asokoro, Abuja was raided and sealed by anti-corruption agents of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, a few hours after her alleged arrest in London.

On August 28, 2017, a Nigerian federal court seized 7.6 billion nairas ($21 million) from bank accounts linked to Alison-Madueke.

The big question is: why is the current Nigerian administration led by President Buhari unable and unwilling to prosecute one of the most controversial and corrupt officials of government in Nigeria’s recent history? Sam Martin, an analyst dealing with white collar crime and justice, maintained that most governments in Africa are inherently corrupt, so they lack the personal commitment to do something about corruption. Indeed, the Buhari’s administration has its share of public corruption in high places.

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Paul Goldstein

PAUL F. GOLDSTEIN is an avid blogger and investigator in a U.S. based firm probing foreign corruption. Paul investigations focus on foreign corruption, white collar matters, insider trading and securities law. Paul has successfully advised foreign individuals in a wide range of enforcement matters including Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and U.S. Immigration violations.
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