Diezani’s Lawyers Blocked Her Interrogation In March – EFCC
The quest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to see justice done in the allegations of corruption against former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezane Alison-Madueke, may have hit a new snag as the anti-graft agency says its investigative team has not been allowed to meet with her in the United Kingdom, where she has been staying since 2015 when the investigation into her tenure began.
Mrs Alison-Madueke had been staying in the United Kingdom since 2015 when the government she was a part of was voted out of office. She is been investigated for abuse of office, money laundering, stealing of public funds and illegal acquisition of properties within and outside Nigeria.
According to the EFCC, John Binns of BCL Solicitors, the law firm representing Mrs Alison-Madueke, refused to allow the EFCC investigative team, led by Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, to meet with the former minister in the UK when they went to interrogate her in March.
The EFCC made the claims in a counter-affidavit it filed in response to a motion filed by Diezani with the aim of getting an amendment and adding her as a party to the charges filed against Mr Olajide Omokore and 5 others.
A 9 count charge of criminal diversion of about $1.6bn, alleged to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government, was filed against Omokore and the other five defendants by the EFCC.
Mr Madueke was mentioned in one of these 9 counts, where she and other officials were alleged to have had a hand in Omokore’s money laundering offences.
Parts of EFCC’s counter-affidavit read:
“That Sometime In 2015, The Commission Received An Intelligence Report Bordering On Abuse Of Office, Criminal Breach Of Trust, Stealing, Conversion And Receiving Stolen Properties.
“That The Commission Further Assessed The Intelligence Report And Found That There Was Merit In Same. Investigation Was Conducted In Respect Of This Case Before A Charge Was Preferred Against The Defendants (Omokore And Others).
“That At The Tail End Of The Tenure Of The Applicant As Minister Of Petroleum Resources, The Commission Received A Lot Of Complaints And Intelligence Reports Against The Applicant, Alleging That She Was Involved In Various Corrupt Practices, Money Laundering, Stealing Of Public Funds And Illegal Acquisition Of Properties Within And Outside Nigeria.
“That Immediately The Applicant (Alison-Madueke) Got To Know That Investigations Had Commenced In Respect Of Her Various Nefarious Illegal Financial Activities While She Was The Minister Of Petroleum Resources, She Absconded From Nigeria In Order To Escape The Investigation And Prosecution By The Economic And Financial Crimes Commission.
“That Upon Realising That The Applicant Is In The United Kingdom, We Made Efforts To Schedule A Meeting With The Applicant In Order To Interview Her In Respect Of Her Involvement In The Activities Leading To This Charge And Many Other Alleged Financial Crimes Linked To Her But Up Till Now, She Had Always Avoided Having Any Meeting With Members Of Our Team.
“That The Applicant’s Lawyer In The United Kingdom, One John Binns Of BCL Solicitors, Informed The Members Of The Team Of Investigators Headed By Abdulrasheed Bawa, When They Visited The United Kingdom In March, 2017, That The Team Would Not Be Permitted To Meet The Applicant For Any Interview In View Of The Fact That She Is Not Within The Territory Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria.
“That While In The United Kingdom, The Applicant Had Been Invited By The Metropolitan Police, Who Are Investigating Her For Several Other Financial Crimes. She Has Been Released On Bail In The United Kingdom But Could Not Leave The United Kingdom As Their Investigations Have Reached Advanced Stages.”