Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has met with United Kingdom Government officials in London, in an effort to expedite the extradition of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke to face trial in Nigeria.
Diezani, who served in ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, is expected to face trial for graft and money laundering running into billions of naira.
She had holed up in London for the past five years.
The British authorities claimed she was under probe for financial crimes and graft, but the EFCC had criticised the delay in the prosecution of the former official, prompting the Federal Government to file an extradition request.
Magu, Sunday PUNCH gathered, had secured assurances that Diezani would be extradited in the next one month, or latest by March.
Sources said that Magu was able to convince the British authorities to expedite action on the extradition request filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
“The acting EFCC chairman has met with UK officials to expedite the process of extraditing Diezani. The investigation into the allegations against her by the UK government seemed to have stalled. It appears as if it was a ploy to keep her from facing justice in Nigeria. Magu is upbeat that the ex-minister would be repatriated to Nigeria latest by March,” a source disclosed on Friday.
Similarly, the commission has submitted an arrest warrant to the International Police for the processing of the extradition of another former petroleum minister, Dan Etete, who is wanted by the EFCC for his involvement in the $1.1bn Malabu oil scandal.
Our correspondent also gathered that the warrant was for the arrest and extradition of Munamuna Seidougha, and Joseph Amaran.
The arrest order was issued by Justice Abubakar Kutigi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Gwagwalada, on Thursday, based on an ex-parte application and affidavit brought by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency said Etete, Seidougha, and Amaran were on the run in the 42 counts filed against the immediate-past Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), and six others.
The anti-graft agency had preferred charges against the three suspects before the High Court over the $1.09bn Malabu Oil Bloc (OPL 245) Settlement Agreement.
It alleged that Rasky Gbinigie, Munamuna Seidougha (at large), Amaran Joseph sometime in 2013, in Abuja “dishonestly used as genuine the forged form CAC 7 and Board Resolution of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and the letter of resignation of one Mohammed Sani, which they then knew to be forged documents, to open a bank account No. 2018288005 to receive $401.5m.”
An ex parte application filed before the court by the EFCC legal team comprising Bala Sanga, Aliyu Yusuf, Offem Uket, M.S. Abubakar and H.S. Shehu, said the suspects reside in France.
The anti-graft agency claimed it had traced N47.2bn and $487.5m in cash and properties to Diezani who had continued to deny any financial misdeed. She insists she is being severely maligned and persecuted by the EFCC.
The EFCC, in the course of the investigation, also alleged it also traced real estate worth billions of Naira to the ex-minister, including a property valued at $37.5m (N11.750bn) in Banana Island, Lagos.
She was said to have purchased the 15-storey building, which comprises 18 flats and six penthouses, between 2011 and 2012 from the developers, YF Construction and Real Estate.
The property was allegedly acquired in the name of a shell company, Rusimpex Limited, which is managed by one Afamefuna Nwokedim, Principal Partner, Stillwaters Law Firm, Lagos.
On August 7, 2017, Justice Chuka Obiozor, a vacation judge sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered the final forfeiture of the Banana Island property.
The court had also ordered the final forfeiture of $2.7m and N84.5m, respectively found by the commission in Rusimpex dollars account No. 1013612486 domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
The anti-graft commission also traced two apartments at the Bella Vista Court, Banana Island to Diezani. The penthouse apartments located on Block C-5, Flat 21, Plot 1, Zone N. was allegedly purchased for $350m by the ex-minister.
A court had on February 16, 2017, ordered the final forfeiture to the Federal Government of a whopping sum of N34bn traced to the former minister.
Earlier in May 2016, over $100m was traced to the accounts of several Independent National Electoral Commission officials who were allegedly bribed by Diezani to compromise the 2015 general elections.
The Special Adviser (Media) to the EFCC chairman, Mr Tony Amokeodo, declined to comment, saying the commission would not disclose what it was doing to extradite the two ex-ministers for now. “We would not disclose what we are doing for now,” he said on Saturday.
But the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), confirmed that Etete’s arrest warrant had been served on Interpol, adding that it should not be difficult to extradite him to Nigeria having being earlier convicted by a French court.
He stated, “I don’t think it should be too difficult to get Etete in France. So, they have his record and they know who he is and what he has done in the past.”
Sagay described as good news the moves to bring back Diezani, saying, “She wounded the country so badly.”
The PACAC Chairman noted, “It is good news because justice has to be done. Diezani has wounded this country so badly, so she should have her day in court. It’s very strange that the UK has kept her for so long.
“I have some direct knowledge of what was going on because I had some interaction with the British authorities and they said they were investigating her. This was in 2017. It’s unlike the British and now, it is three years later, they have not concluded their investigation. I think there is a reluctance somewhere.
“What this showed me is that no society is perfect. We always praise the British for the speed with which they always conclude their investigations and prosecute, but you can see that in this case, they have failed woefully. So, it’s a problem to me and I think Magu has done the right thing by insisting that she should be extradited.”
Commenting on the planned repatriation of the ex-ministers, the Executive Secretary, Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative, Chief Dennis Aghanya, said it was overdue, adding that the FG must recover the stolen public funds and fast-track their prosecution.
He commended the AGF and the EFCC boss for the efforts to bring back the former officials, noting that if recovered, the funds allegedly looted by the ex-ministers could be spent on infrastructure development.