A FORMER Nigerian minister Diezani Alison-Madueke has been charged to court over alleged bribery offences by the United Kingdom government.
Madueke will appear at Westminster Magistrate Court on October 2, 2023.
A statement by the National Crime Agency (NCA) on Tuesday, August 22, confirmed that the charges are a milestone in what has been a thorough and complex international investigation.
Madueke, served as the petroleum resources minister during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan between 2010 to 2015 and also served as the president of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The NCA said it suspected that Madueke accepted bribes while serving as the Minister for Petroleum Resources in exchange for awarding multi-million-pound oil and gas contracts.
The former minister is accused of acquiring a minimum of £100,000 in cash, chauffeured cars, private jet flights, opulent family vacations, and the utilisation of numerous London properties.
The charges against her also outline financial benefits such as furniture, property renovations, staffing, covering private school fees, and receiving gifts from upscale designer stores like Cartier jewellery and Louis Vuitton items.
The head of the NCA’s International Corruption Unit (ICU), Andy Kelly, in the statement, said, “We suspect Diezani Alison-Madueke abused her power in Nigeria and accepted financial rewards for awarding multi-million-pound contracts.
“These charges are a milestone in what has been a thorough and complex international investigation.
“Bribery is a pervasive form of corruption, which enables serious criminality and can have devastating consequences for developing countries. We will continue to work with partners here and overseas to tackle the threat.”
NCA also disclosed that assets worth millions of pounds relating to the alleged offences have already been frozen as part of the ongoing investigation.
Similarly, in March 2023, the US Department of Justice, through the evidence provided by the NCA, recovered assets totalling USD$53.1m linked to Diezani Alison-Madueke’s alleged corruption.
“ICU officers have also worked closely with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria during the investigation, as well as with the NCA-hosted International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre.
“The IACCC brings together specialist anti-corruption investigators from agencies around the world to tackle allegations of corruption involving politically exposed people. It is currently working in 37 different jurisdictions,” the statement read.
The chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Andrew Penhale, noted that the CPS authorised the NCA to charge Diezani Alison-Madueke with bribery offences.
The CPS, according to the statement, decided to authorise the charge after reviewing a file of evidence from the NCA relating to allegations of bribery in Nigeria.
“Criminal proceedings against Ms Alison-Madueke are active, and she has the right to a fair trial.
“It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.
“The function of the CPS is not to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges for a criminal court to consider.”
Meanwhile, Madueke has been the subject of several allegations in Nigeria, primarily linked to her tenure while she was serving as the minister of the Country.
On October 25 last year, the Federal High Court in Abuja, ordered the final forfeiture of two Abuja houses and two luxury cars belonging to a former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to the Federal Government.
The two properties, according to the statement released by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), are located at Plot 1854 Mohammed Mahashir Street, and No. 6, Aso Drive, in the highbrow areas of Asokoro and Maitama districts in Abuja and are valued at $2,674,418USD and N380,000,000, respectively.
The luxury cars are a black BMW saloon with Chassis No. B8CV54V66629 and registered plate number RBC155 DH, and a black Jaguar saloon car with Chassis No. SAJAA.20 GRDMv43376, valued at N36,000,000.
The Commission had on November 29, 2021, secured the interim forfeiture of the assets in a ruling on a separate motion ex-parte filed on September 27, 2021, which prayed the court to order the interim forfeiture of the assets on the grounds of reasonable suspicion that they were proceeds of unlawful activities.
“In granting the interim forfeiture order, Justice Olajuwon had ordered the EFCC to publish a notice in a national newspaper, inviting anyone with an interest in the assets to show the reason why they should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria. The court consequently adjourned till January 22, 2022, for a report.
“In compliance with the order of the court, the forfeiture order was published in Thisday Newspaper of Wednesday, April 6, 2022. In the absence of any contestation of the interim order, the court today forfeited the properties to the Federal Government,” the Commission added.
Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M