WE ARE AWARE: Presidency speaks out on Alison-Madueke’s arrest in London

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Former Nigeria's Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke

The Nigerian presidency has confirmed the arrest of a former
Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in London, over allegations
of corruption and money laundering.

“The government is aware of the arrest and all the government
investigative agencies are working very closely with the British law
enforcement,” the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba
Shehu, told PREMIUM TIMES exclusively on Sunday.
“Nigerian authorities are saying for the first time that matters are
being handled with seriousness and deep commitment. Nobody wants to give
the impression that this government is frivolous and unserious.
“For this reason, government is only confirming active collaboration.
Beyond this, we are not saying more. In due course, Nigerians will be
briefed on updates as appropriate.”
Asked about the identities of the other four people arrested with the
former minister, Mr. Shehu declined comments, saying, “as I said no one
is willing to provide further details at this point”.
The presidential confirmation came two days after Mrs. Alison-Madueke
was arrested and granted bail by the UK National Crime Agency over
allegations of corruption and money laundering.
PREMIUM TIMES had on Friday exclusively reported the arrest of the former minister, alongside four others.
The identities of the four other people arrested along with Mrs. Alison-Madueke, remained unknown.
The embattled former minister, who was one of the most influential
officials of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, and her
four colleagues were granted “conditional bail” late that same day.
As part of the bail conditions, Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s travel
documents and those of others were reportedly seized, effectively
barring them from travelling outside the UK, pending the conclusion of
investigation and their arraignment in court.
It is not however clear when the Minister and her accomplices would be arraigned in court.
The UK NCA had explained on Saturday that investigation into
allegations of corruption against the former minister of Petroleum
Resources and the four other people arrested on Friday had been on since
2013.
The agency said in an update on its website that investigation of
Mrs. Alison-Madueke was originally handled under the Proceeds of
Corruption Unit (PCU) domiciled at the London Metropolitan Police
Service in 2013 until earlier this year when the case was transferred to
it.
The NCA said following the creation of the International Corruption
Unit (ICU) in line with the UK Anti-Corruption Plan, the PCU at the
Metropolitan Police and the Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit of the City of
London Police were scrapped.
The ICU has since become the UK’s prime agency for the investigation
of bribery of foreign public officials by individuals or companies from
the UK, and money laundering by corrupt foreign officials and their
associates.
A controversial minister
​Mrs. Alison-Madueke, one of the most influential officials of the
President Goodluck Jonathan administration, was first appointed into the
federal cabinet in 2007.
A former board member of Shell Petroleum Development Company of
Nigeria, she was later appointed Minister of Transport by former
President Umaru Yar’adua.
In December 2008, she was redeployed to the mines and steel development ministry.
After former Vice President Goodluck Jonathan became acting
president, Mrs. Alison-Madueke was appointed Nigeria’s first female
petroleum minister in February 2010, a position Mrs. Alison-Madueke held
till May 29, 2015 when Mr. Jonathan left office.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s tenure as petroleum minister turned out one of
Nigeria’s most controversial, amid unending allegations of massive
corruption.
Under her watch, dubious oil marketers stole trillions of naira of
oil subsidy money. She retained her position despite an indictment by
the House of Representatives which investigated the fuel subsidy
scandal.
Probes by independent audit firms, including the KPMG and
PriceWaterhousecoopers, confirmed that billions of dollars of oil money
were missing. The most notable case of missing money involved $20billion
in 2014, as alleged by a former Central Bank governor, Lamido Sanusi.
Several shady deals exposed by PREMIUM TIMES and confirmed by
government and independent auditors were linked to the former minister
and her cronies.
Long before her stint in the oil and gas sector, Mrs. Alison-Madueke
was investigated by the Nigerian Senate on allegation she paid N30.9
billion to contractors while she held office as transportation minister.
In 2009, the Senate indicted and recommended her prosecution for
allegedly transferring N1.2 billion into a private account of a toll
company without due process.
Regardless of the indictments, Mrs. Alison-Madueke got elected in
November 2014 as the first female president of oil producing countries
alliance, OPEC.
The former minister consistently denies wrongdoing. In June, after
leaving office, she rejected all allegations of embezzlement saying she
never stole from Nigeria.

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