Says we’ve strong corruption case against her
Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Faced with the dilemma of losing out in the money laundering case it instituted against her, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked the British Special Fraud Office to either prosecute the former Minister of Petroleum, Allison Diezani Madueke or extradite her to face trial in Nigeria.
The EFCC says it is bothered that the UK anti-corruption agency, which had earlier claimed to be investigating the former minister for possible infraction had not come up with any information on the woman, who is needed in Nigeria to defend herself of money laundering charges.
A senior EFCC official told Vanguard on Tuesday that the commission had since applied for Diezani’s repatriation but expressed disappointment that the agency had neither proceeded with her trial nor responded to its request.
The top official, who pleaded anonymity, said: “We have applied to the UK authorities, who have been coming here and going and told them to release the former minister for us if they cannot try her.
“But to our greatest shock and disappointment, they are not saying anything to us. They have been telling us that they are still investigating the woman for over four years while we are ready with our charges against her.
The dilemma of EFCC stems from last week’s threat by a judge of the Federal High Court to dismiss the 13-count money laundering and corruption charges preferred against her by the EFCC, which has however not been able to extradite her from the UK, where she has been staying since leaving office in 2015.
The British authorities had said that they were investigating her for possible corrupt practices but appear to have lost interest in the case and given up on the matter, leaving the EFCC with no chance to bring her to have her day in court over allegations of graft levelled against her.
On November 12, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu had ordered the EFCC to either produce Diezani in court at the next adjourned date of March 10, 2020, or get the case struck out.
“My docket is not going to be a waiting room for the prosecution,” the judge warned, adding, “I will give you one more adjournment. If nothing happens on the next date, I will strike it out.
Since EFCC filed the 13-count charge against the former minister in November 2018, the agency has not been able to bring her to court.
The agency had accused her of using her position as minister to siphon money and use the same to acquire choice property valued at hundreds of millions of Naira, which it describes as proceeds of crime.
She was said to have purchased choice landed assets with the money using different fronts as the owners.
One of the charges indicated that in September 2013, she used the name of Rusimpex Limited to acquire a property named Block B3 comprising of six penthouses and 18 flats at Zone N Federal Government Layout, also known as Bella Vista Estate, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos, with the sum of $37.5m.
Another charge said that on June 4, 2012, she used the name of Azinga Meados Limited to buy 13 three-bedroom terrace houses with one room maids’ quarters at Mabushi Gardens Estate, Abuja, with the sum of N650m.
Another charge indicated that in May 2012, she used the name of Chapel Properties to buy eight four-bedroom terrace houses, two three-bedroom penthouses, six three-bedroom apartments, two three-bedrooms Mansionette, two-bedroom apartments, one four-bedroom apartment at No. 4/6 Thorburn Avenue, and No 5 Raymond Street, Yaba, Lagos, with N937m.
She was also said to have in May 2012, purchased in the name of Blue Nile Estate Limited, 16 four-bedroom terrace houses at Plot 2C, Omerelu Street Diabu GRA, Port Harcourt Rivers State, with N928m.