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Monday, May 27, 2024

$2.5bn fraud: EFCC to collaborate with UK prosecutors in Diezani’s case

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There were signs over the weekend that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission plans to join forces with the United Kingdom prosecutors as an interested party in the trial of former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in a UK court.

A team from the anti-graft commission is expected in London to initiate this process by filing relevant documents, the Nation reports.

According to a source privy to the information, the EFCC intends to share its findings and the Abuja high court’s forfeiture order concerning Diezani’s $2.5 million properties and vehicles with the UK court.

“This country may not be able to retrieve questionable assets from Diezani if the EFCC does not file an application as an interested party. We have received an advisory on this important bend to Diezani’s trial and we will be part of the case in the UK. A team will leave for London any moment from now to explore legal opportunities and file necessary papers as an interested party.

“The overall aim is for Nigeria to benefit from Diezani’s trial, especially the recovery of all assets linked to funds looted in this country. The EFCC has sufficient evidence against Diezani, including a court order on the former minister’s $2.5 million homes and cars.

“In another case, a former chairman of EFCC confirmed that the commission recovered $153 million and secured the final forfeiture of over 80 properties in Nigeria valued at about $ 80 million. The allegations against Diezani by the EFCC border on the alleged stealing of about $2.5 billion from Nigeria’s coffers as a minister.” the source said.

The source continued, “It is necessary for this nation to rise to the occasion because, in March 2023, the NCA also provided evidence to the US Department of Justice that enabled them to recover assets totalling $53.1 million linked to Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s alleged corruption.

“Like the P&ID case, the EFCC has sufficient evidence to pull through a case against Diezani. We want all stolen, diverted and questionable assets back in the custody of Nigeria for the good use of our citizens.I think the EFCC is collaborating with the NCA in the UK on this.

“It is also unclear if the UK court will ask Diezani to return to Nigeria to serve prison terms if convicted. This is why we also need to be an interested party in the case in the UK.”

Last year, the Head of the NCA’s international corruption unit, Andy Kelly, said the “charges are a milestone in what has been a thorough and complex international investigation”.

“Bribery is a pervasive form of corruption, which enables serious criminality and can have devastating consequences for developing countries.

“We will continue to work with partners here and overseas to tackle the threat.”

The National Crime Agency alleged that Diezani could have received benefits worth at least £100,000, including cash, chauffeured cars, private jet flights, luxury family vacations, and multiple London properties.

On October 2, 2023, a Magistrate Court granted bail to the former Minister for £70,000, considering her a potential flight risk.

The trial proceedings for Diezani’s case are scheduled to commence in November 2025.

In October 2023, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, submitted a warrant of arrest and request to the Crown Prosecution Services of the United Kingdom for the urgent extradition of a former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke.

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