Jonathan’s untouchable, Diezani Alison-Madueke, arrested in London over corruption allegations

Diezani Alison-Madueke

By Ajani Okanlawon

Former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, was arrested in London on Friday, multiple sources have confirmed.

Four other people were also arrested by the UK National Crime Agency.

The former minister was granted bail after hours of questioning but the London Police have confirmed that she would be charged to court for money laundering.

Her arrest, along with others, was posted on the agency website via the statement: “The National Crime Agency’s recently formed International Corruption Unit has arrested five people across London as part of an investigation into suspected bribery and money laundering offences.”

The identities of the four other people arrested along with her could not be immediately ascertained.

Joseph Abuku, Press and Public Affairs Officer, of the United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria confirmed the arrest of five Nigerian nationals, but declined to spell out their identities.

“This morning, five people between the ages of 21 and 60 were arrested on suspicion of bribery and corruption offences. The crimes are being investigated by the National Crime Agency.

“The National Crime Agency does not confirm identity at arrest nor provide information that could be used to corroborate the identity of an arrested individual.”

It is not clear whether the former minister was arrested based on request from the Nigerian government.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on September 27 said that those who misappropriated billions of naira belonging to Nigeria’s state oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) would soon be prosecuted.

Buhari said at a meeting with President Xi Jinping of China in New York that his administration was determined to fully sanitize Nigeria’s oil industry and make it totally free of corruption and shady deals.

A former director at Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, Mrs Alison-Madueke has held three significant positions in the federal cabinet.

She was appointed Transport Minister by late President Umaru Yar’Adua in July 2007. On 23 December 2008, she was named as Minister of Mines and Steel Development.

After Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan became acting President in February 2010, he dissolved the cabinet on 17 March 2010, and swore in a new cabinet on 6 April 2010 with Alison-Madueke as Nigeria’s first female Minister for Petroleum Resources.

Even before accusations of mismanaging the oil sector were levelled against her, the 54-year-old was investigated by the Nigerian Senate over allegation she paid N30.9 billion to contractors while she held office as transportation minister.

In 2009, the Senate also indicted Mrs. Alison-Madueke and recommended her for prosecution for allegedly transferring N1.2 billion into a private account of a toll company without due process.

A 2012 House of Representatives report into the management of petrol subsidy blamed the minister for failing to stop dubious marketers from swindling the government to the tune of over N2 trillion.

An untouchable in the Jonathan Presidency, Alison-Madueke was elected in November 2014 as the first female president of oil cartel the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Lamido Sanusi, (now Emir of Kano) was fired by last year after he publicly noted that tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues had not been remitted to state coffers by the NNPC between January 2012 and July 2013.

She has stayed away from Nigeria since President Buhari was sworn in on May, 29, 2015.

Reports late Friday suggest that operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have taken over her Abuja residence.