Diezani Alison-Madueke – the oil lady and her stolen assets
WEST AFRICA–– A judge in Nigeria has accused the country’s former oil minister of trying to “avoid justice” in Britain. In dismissing an application for her to face corruption charges back home, the judge lashed at the ex-oil minister who is accused of a prominent corruption estimated at more than $3 billion dollars.
Judge Rilwan Aikawa informed the Federal High Court in Lagos that an attempt by Diezani Alison-Madueke’s lawyers to add her name to a fraud case he was hearing was an abuse of process.
“The action of Diezani is to avoid justice in the United Kingdom. Overall, I found the application to be lacking in merit and accordingly dismissed,” he ruled.
The former Nigerian petroleum minister was one of Africa’s highest-profile female politicians, having served under former president Goodluck Jonathan. She was also the first female president of OPEC.
Alison-Madueke has been on bail in the United Kingdom since her arrest in October 2015 as part of a British investigation into corruption and money laundering.
Since then, the 56 years old female politician has been part of a number of separate corruption and asset-recovery cases in Nigeria, Italy and the United States.
Alison-Madueke who has always denied claims that billions of dollars were siphoned from oil deals and state accounts, is alleged to have properties in Nigeria and overseas worth millions of dollars.
In the past few months, properties worth millions of dollars have been seized in Nigeria, while a British judge has frozen houses linked to the former minister in exclusive areas of London.
The current case at the Federal High Court in Lago is unusual in that her lawyers sought to have her extradited, charged and tried alongside two other defendants in a $1.4 million fraud case.
Onyechi Ikpeazu tried to justify the move because his client was named as an accomplice in the four-count charge faced by two defendants, one of whom is a former planning minister.
“I know that she will be happy to come and face the trial,” he said.
But one of the lead prosecutors, Rotimi Oyedeop, said Alison-Madueke could still be charged and tried if and when she returns to Nigeria at a later date.
Incumbent Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has instituted a wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign since coming to power in 2015. Those efforts and initiatives have seen several top politicians arrested and others, including Buhari’s top aide Babachir Lawal, sacked.