Following the arrest of the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, on allegations of bribery, corruption and money laundering, her interrogation continued yesterday at the Charing Cross Police Station, just as her husband, a former Chief of Naval Staff, Rear-Admiral Alison Madueke (rtd), has put together a legal team to defend his wife against the charges by the United Kingdom authorities.
The former minister was arrested last Friday in London by the British National Crime Agency (NCA) alongside four other people, but was granted bail after over five hours of questioning.
It is gathered that the four other people arrested along with Mrs. Alison-Madueke were her domestic staff and aides.
NCA said investigations on the former minister were commenced in 2013 by the British authorities under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and transferred to it earlier this year.
One of the lawyers put together by Mr. Alison, Mr. Chike C. Amobi, a US-trained attorney, was said to have departed Lagos on Saturday night for London to join a Queen’s Counsel, who accompanied the minister to the Charing Cross Police Station to respond to questions from NCA on the allegations of bribery, corruption and money laundering against her. Amobi is expected back in Lagos today.
THISDAY reported that during its search of her residence in London, agents of the NCA, in addition to dispossessing the former minister of all her mobile phones, also confiscated less than £30,000 in her possession. NCA, in addition, seized her passport to prevent her from leaving the UK.
After her arrest and bail, speculation was rife that she was supposed to appear at the Westminster Magistrate’s Court on Marylebone Road in London for arraignment.
However, the former minister did not show up at the court, which was besieged by Nigerian journalists who had gone to cover the case.
The court also granted an application for seizure of the money seized from Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
According to the BBC, the NCA monday secured the seizure of the sum of £27,000 in the case involving the former petroleum minister at the magistrate’s court in London.
By granting the application, which was filed by the UK’s NCA, the money would be held in the custody of the court until April next year.
A separate application was made against Mrs. Agama, Deziani's mother for the seizure of £5,000 and $2,000 (about £6,300) while Ms. Spencer was made to forfeit £10,000. Ms. Spencer was believed to have been one of the persons arrested alongside the former minister.
A source in the UK explained that though the “persons of interest” are not being charged for any crime, the UK authorities have decided to invite them to help them with their investigations.
Some of the so-called persons of interest include foreign-based businessman, Mr. Kola Aluko; a staff of the London office of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Joe Mordi; the former minister’s London-based driver; another London-based driver/butler; and one of the co-founders of oil and gas trading firm Tridax Energy, Mr. Donald Chidi Amamgbo. - THISDAY
Meanwhile, the presidency monday confirmed the arrest in London of Mrs. Alison-Madueke on suspicion of bribery and money laundering.
“Nigeria is aware of the arrest of the former petroleum minister in London on money laundering charges,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told AFP.
“The government has been informed and the DSS (Department of State Services) is collaborating with the relevant security agencies in the UK to handle the matter,” he said.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its sister agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), however, declined comment on the corruption allegations against Mrs. Alison-Maduekwe.
The anti-graft agencies also refused to make any comment on whether or not they participated in the investigation on alleged money laundering which led to the arrest of the former minister in London.
EFFC had on Friday searched Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s homes in Lagos and Abuja, triggering speculations that vital information on the allegations against the former minister was recovered.
The commission however did not make an official pronouncement on the matter.
EFCC spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, declined to comment on questions posed to him.
He said: “I wouldn’t like to comment on the issue, I have no comment, that is the major reason why a lot of people couldn’t reach me during the weekend.”
A source with the ICPC also stated that the commission had no involvement in the investigation, adding that the commission had no immediate plan to investigate the former minister.
“The charges against her border on money laundering, it has to do with foreign currency; this has nothing to do with us,” he said.