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In Africa’s Corruption Saga, Nigeria seizes $21 million from ex-oil minister

Ex-Corrupt Nigeria’s oil Minister Ms. Diezani Alison-Madueke in red, associating with oil field workers

West Africa –– As the campaign against corrupt African officials mounts, a Nigerian court appropriated $21 million United States dollars on Monday from several bank accounts linked to a former oil minister accused of corruption and theft of public funds.

Financial investigators are busy daily in researching all hideouts where the minister’s stolen wealth has been kept. Abdulazeez Anka, a federal high court judge, ordered the instant forfeiture of 7.6 billion naira ($21 million, 17.9 million euros) supposedly stored in local bank accounts belonging to Diezani Alison-Madueke, an ex-oil minister under President Goodluck Jonathan.

Alison-Madueke, who was once one of Africa’s most bulging female politicians, fell from power and high stones to disgrace, with numerous allegations of public theft and systemic corruption. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria’s anti-graft agency which accuses Alison-Madueke of corruption, argued in court today that the former oil minister had illicitly laundered the funds with the help of top oil officials. Since leaving office in 2015 after the electoral defeat of President Jonathan, Alison-Madueke has been incriminated in bribery, fraud, misuse of public funds and money laundering cases in Nigeria, Britain, Italy and the United States, where she could be jailed for years, if guilty.

Diezani Alison-Madueke with her private plane behind her

Alison-Madueke, a former president of the global oil cartel OPEC, and the first female to hold the post, is widely considered as one of Africa’s most corrupt public figures.

She has always denied the charges which involved billions of dollars drained off from oil deals and state coffers. The court’s ruling followed two submissions by the EFCC, which prior this month effectively seized properties worth $44 million dollars that Alison-Madueke apparently bought with the proceeds of corruption. Elected in 2015 on an anti-corruption platform, President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking to stamp-out Nigeria’s widespread graft.

These signal chills to other African nations, especially Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Togo and South Sudan where several government officials, past and present, are said to be under international radar regarding the accumulation of their assets and properties.

Kwesi Boateng, a Ghanaian living in Maryland and who works for a mutual fund firm, said, “there is a need to ask all the African officials with flashy homes in the United States and money on Wall Street about where and how they got their wealth?”

Becky Davidson, a South African, agrees. Ms. Davidson said tracking the assets and value-chain accounts of African officials is long overdue. “We hope these corrupt officials will also be tracked and their properties seized both in Africa and other parts of the world,” she added.

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Ben Mabande

Ben Mabande is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.

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