Bribery: UK court restricts Diezani’s movement, EFCC begins extradition - PUNCH
A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, on Monday, appeared before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in the United Kingdom over an alleged £100,000 bribe.
The district judge, Michael Snow, granted Alison-Madueke a £70,000 bail.
Snow further imposed other terms on Alison-Madueke including an 11 pm to 6 am curfew, an electronic tag to be worn by her at all times and a £70,000 surety to be paid before she could leave the court building.
Although she did not formally enter a plea, her attorney, Mark Bowen, informed the court that she would plead not guilty, Reuters reported.
Her next court appearance will be on October 30 at Southwark Crown Court, which deals with serious criminal cases.
In August, the UK’s National Crime Agency said it suspected that Alison-Madueke had accepted bribes in return for awarding multi-million-pound oil and gas contracts.
In a statement published on its website, NCA said the ex-Nigeria minister “is alleged to have benefitted from at least £100,000 in cash, chauffeur-driven cars, flights on private jets, luxury holidays for her family, and the use of multiple London properties.
“Her charges also detail financial rewards, including furniture, renovation work and staff for the properties, payment of private school fees, and gifts from high-end designer shops such as Cartier jewellery and Louis Vuitton goods.”
In March 2023, the NCA also provided evidence to the US Department of Justice that enabled them to recover assets totalling $53.1m linked to Diezan’s alleged corruption.
Head of the NCA’s international corruption unit, Andy Kelly, said the “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,” Kelly added.
Diezani was the minister of petroleum resources from 2010 to 2015 during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Shortly before Jonathan handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, she left the country for the UK.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alleged that the former minister stole $2.5bn from the Nigerian government while she was a minister.
Efforts by the EFCC to arraign her have been unsuccessful as she has not returned to Nigeria since 2015. But the anti-graft agency said on Monday that it had commenced an extradition process to bring Diezani back to Nigeria to face trial.
The spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, said, “The EFCC welcomes, with keen interest, the arraignment of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, at the Westminister’s Court in London, United Kingdom, following alleged bribery allegations.
“Although the charges preferred against her at the London court, are diametrically different from the 13 counts, bordering on money laundering that the EFCC has raised against her, it is instructive to note that criminality is criminality, irrespective of jurisdictional differences. No crime can go unpunished. The money laundering charges for which Madueke is answerable to the EFCC, cover jurisdictions in Dubai, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Nigeria.
“To bring the former Minister to trial in Nigeria, an arrest warrant has been obtained and extradition proceedings have been initiated. The commission is on course on her trial. She will soon have her day in our courts.”