The trial of a former Petroleum Minister of Nigeria, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has been scheduled for June this year, local media portals are reporting. The Minister is expected to be tried along with four other accomplices for alleged corrupt practices.
Mrs Alison-Madueke was arrested in October 2015, in London, as part of a UK investigation into suspicions of corruption and large-scale laundering. At the time, she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
Two weeks ago, a Federal High Court in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, issued an order allowing the country’s anti-graft body to confiscate over $150m belonging to her. According to Judge Muslim Hassan, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had proven beyond reasonable doubt that the monies were proceeds from illegal activity.
The ex-minister has forfeited $153m; we have had a far-reaching investigation on her involvement in the $115m poll bribery scandal; we have seized some of her choice properties and she has consistently maintained that she is ready for trial.
Ms Alison-Madueke, 56, has already been implicated on several occasions in corruption cases. Under her watch, the former Central Bank governor, Lamido Sanusi – now the emir of Kano, had revealed that there was a shortage of $20 billion in oil revenues in the state coffers.
A reporter with the Nation quoted an anonymous source at the EFCC as saying, they were ready with overwhelming evidence to support the trial, he also dismissed reports that they were negotiating a settlement with the ex-Minister.
“The ex-minister has forfeited $153m; we have had a far-reaching investigation on her involvement in the $115m poll bribery scandal; we have seized some of her choice properties and she has consistently maintained that she is ready for trial,” the source said.
She is said to have diverted funds from the state oil firm, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and placed in three banks.
The former minister, appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan, has consistently denied that she diverted these public funds, claiming that she did not have access to the NNPC’s treasury.
The Central Bank of Nigeria announced in May 2016 that it was participating in the investigation into corruption targeting the former oil minister.
Goodluck Jonathan lost the election to his opponent Muhammadu Buhari, who has promised since his coming to power to wage a fierce fight against corruption that is plaguing the most populous country on the continent.
The UK only recently released a former governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State, James Ibori who was jailed on charges of corruption and money laundering on April 17, 2012, after a five year trial.
The Southwark Crown Court, UK, sentenced him to 13 years in prison while his houses, luxury cars and other property items were confiscated.
The judge, however, ruled that Ibori would serve half of the jail term, which is six and half years. He was released in December last year but returned home in February 2017.