The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says its investigative team has not been allowed to meet with the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the United Kingdom, where she has been staying since 2015 when investigation into her tenure began.
The commission stated in a counter-affidavit filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja, that it had been investigating the ex-minister for various allegations of corrupt practices, including abuse of office, money laundering, stealing of public funds and illegal acquisition of properties within and outside Nigeria.
But EFCC stated that its efforts to interrogate her over the allegations had been abortive as her lawyer, John Binns of BCL Solicitors, refused to allow the commission’s team of investigators, led by Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, to meet with her in the UK earlier in March this year.
The EFCC’s counter-affidavit was in response to a motion filed by the former minister, seeking an amendment to the heading of the charges filed against a businessman, Mr. Olajide Omokore, and five others by adding her name to the list of defendants so that she could defend herself in respect of allegations against her in one of the nine counts.
A detective with the commission, Mr. Rufai Zaki, who deposed to the EFCC’s counter-affidavit, added that it was not yet possible to bring the former minister back to Nigeria as she was being investigated by the UK’s Metropolitan Police for several other financial crimes, saying the probe had reached an advanced stage.
The EFCC had preferred nine counts of criminal diversion of about $1.6bn, alleged to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government, against Omokore and the other five defendants.
In one of the nine counts, the anti-graft agency alleged that Alison-Madueke and other officials aided and abetted Omokore in committing money laundering offences in relation to the diversion of the crude oil money.
Zaki, the deponent to the EFCC’s counter-affidavit, stated that Alison-Madueke had absconded to the UK after leaving office in 2015 upon realising that the EFCC had commenced investigation into her activities.