The long list of corruption cases hanging on Diezani

Nigeria’s ex-oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, battles slew of graft cases

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke

Nigeria ’ s former oil minister faces charges only at home but her name crops up in a growing number of international cases that lift the lid on the scale of alleged corruption in the country’ s oil sector.

Since leaving office in 2015 , Diezani Alison – Madueke has been implicated in bribery , fraud, misuse of public funds , and money laundering cases in Nigeria , Britain , Italy and the United States .

The first female president of the global oil cartel OPEC — who was one of Africa ’ s most prominent politicians — has always denied the allegations , which involve billions of dollars syphoned from oil deals and state coffers .

But former US State Department Nigeria specialist Matthew Page suggested that a US civil forfeiture case to seize $ 144 million ( 124 million euros ) of assets from allegedly ill -gotten crude contracts may just be the start of Alison – Madueke ’ s legal troubles .

“ Although this is the first attempt by US law enforcement to go after assets allegedly stolen by Diezani and her henchmen , it almost certainly will not be the last , ” he told AFP .

Nigeria ’ s President Muhammadu Buhari , elected in 2015 on a promise to eliminate graft , has said that “ mind- boggling ” sums of public money were stolen by previous administrations .

Officials in Abuja say they are talking with US prosecutors about repatriating the money if the civil forfeiture claim is successful .

– String of cases –

Alison – Madueke served under president Goodluck Jonathan from 2010 to 2015 and was Nigeria ’ s first female minister of petroleum resources . But her tenure was dogged by scandal.

On her watch , the former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi was sacked for claiming the state – run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ( NNPC) had failed to remit $ 20 billion .

In one case heard in Nigeria in February, Alison – Madueke was accused of diverting some $ 153 million from the NNPC coffers .

In another ongoing trial , some 23 billion naira ($ 73 million ) of NNPC money is alleged to have been used to influence the 2015 presidential election to keep Jonathan in power .

Prosecutors in Lagos this week began proceedings to recover $ 1 . 76 billion of assets owned by Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore , whose companies were awarded oil contracts by Alison -Madueke .

A similar asset recovery case was filed last week in Houston , Texas , seeking the seizure of luxury property , including a New York apartment and superyacht , bought by the businessmen .

On Wednesday , another judge ordered the forfeiture of Alison – Madueke ’ s $ 37 . 5 million luxury Lagos property , saying it was purchased with ill – gotten funds .

Meanwhile , Italian prosecutors allege that she and Jonathan received kickbacks from oil majors ENI and Shell as part of a $ 1 . 3 – billion deal for an offshore oil block in Nigeria .

Charges relating to the same oil block deal have also been filed against the oil majors and some senior Nigerian politicians .

Jonathan and Alison – Madueke are not named in the suit but the former president is under pressure from Parliament to answer questions about the so – called Malabu deal .

Finally , Diezani – Madueke was arrested in London in October 2015 in connection with a British probe into international corruption and money laundering , but she was freed on bail.

– ‘ Morale booster ’ –

As the international cases pile up , anti – graft campaigners hope the growing body of evidence will boost current President Muhammadu Buhari ’ s faltering war on corruption .

Several high – profile figures in Jonathan ’ s government have been charged with corruption since Buhari came to power , however so far there have been no major convictions .

Still, some activists believe the overseas cases will serve as a powerful example of justice.

Debo Adeniran , of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders lobby group , said the latest cases involving Alison -Madueke , Aluko and Omokore could be a “ morale booster ” .

“ Once a conviction is got abroad , the right signal will be sent to all looters that the judgment day has come , ” he said .

“ The fight against corruption will receive a boost . At last , the chickens are coming home to roost. ”

Dolapo Oni , an oil analyst with Ecobank , said that in contrast to Nigeria ’ s sluggish courts , the overseas corruption cases may be concluded faster .

But whatever positive impact that may have , fears remain that with Buhari on indefinite medical leave , his anti -corruption war is losing momentum.

Leading Nigerian lawyer Festus Keyamo said the cases demonstrated the need fundamentally to overhaul the NNPC — and to investigate just how far up corruption went in the ruling elite .

“ The big unanswered questions : is it possible one Minister allegedly stole so much without the knowledge , connivance & approval of the C- in – C ( commander – in – chief )?”, he tweeted.



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