Legal Nigeria

Diezani: Three more ex-ministers risk arrest for graft, money laundering

Three more ministers of the Goodluck Jonathan era are facing possible arrest in the aftermath of Friday’s detention of ex- Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in London for alleged corruption.
Although Alison-Madueke and the four other suspects arrested along with her were granted bail same day, tension has already gripped the  Jonathan camp following what sources described as   threat by the once powerful ex-minister   to open up on certain deals which she was directed to execute.
She is said to be good at keeping records, including handwritten notes.
A source in one of the anti-graft agencies said last night that Mrs. Alison-Madueke is  “just  one of the few cases of ex-ministers under investigation.”
“We have at least about three issues at hand but I will not disclose their names,” the source said, adding, “do not forget that these three cases are outside the matter of ex-Minister Stella Oduah which is stuck in court. We have made our position known on this.
“The depletion of the $1billion in Sovereign Wealth Fund by about $700million is one of the priority cases with anti-graft agencies. There are also the issues of reckless granting of tax waivers to oil firms.”
The ex-ministers are believed to have been implicated by Permanent Secretaries.
They are likely to be quizzed in connection with alleged reckless granting of waivers, depletion of the Sovereign Wealth Fund by $700m without the knowledge of the National Economic Council, and “questionable contracts.”
The camp of the former president was in disarray yesterday following the arrest of the ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, investigation showed.
Sources said London was thought to be a safe haven for after leaving office in May.
Apart from being a Chevening Scholar, courtesy of the British High Commission, it was learnt that security agencies in the UK did not give her any inkling as she was shuttling between Nigeria and the UK.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Those in Jonathan’s camp felt the ex-president’s visit to President Muhammadu Buhari had created a window for mutual talks and negotiation on alleged graft findings by the new administration.
“They did not know that Buhari really meant business to retrieve looted funds.
“Actually, some ex-ministers, including Diezani, have already placed their counsel in Nigeria on standby in case of any invitation by anti-graft agencies. Their plan was that the matter would be settled in Nigerian court.
“But the arrest of the ex-Minister in London has added a new dimension to the anti-corruption agenda of the Buhari administration.
“Those in Jonathan’s camp were shocked by Diezani’s arrest. They have been desperately trying to get in touch with the ex-Minister since yesterday without success.
“As at today (yesterday), they are worried that Diezani has cut off contact with everyone, creating fears that she might spill the beans.
“The fear in Jonathan’s camp is that Diezani might be given the James Ibori treatment. They are suspecting that she might be tried and convicted in the UK.”
A former presidential aide said: “None of us has been able to reach out to Diezani because all her lines are off. She has also not called to share her travails with anybody.”
How she was nabbed
It was gathered yesterday that the voluntary surrender to the National Crimes Agency (NCA) by a Nigerian oil baron laid the foundation for a comprehensive investigation, and arrest of Diezani.
The said oil baron, according to sources, was allegedly fronting for the ex-Minister and may be holding some looted funds in trust for her.
It was learnt that following surveillance and monitoring by security agencies, the oil baron confided in a former Head of State who encouraged him to open up to the NCA on all such slush accounts.
“The oil magnate voluntarily surrendered to NCA because he knew the game was up. He was not having peace where he was staying in the UK. But the former Head of State assisted in cracking this financial crime.”
Mrs. Alison-Madueke and her alleged accomplices are expected to be arraigned in a London court tomorrow.
The suspects were questioned for several hours by security agents in London.
This came four months after Prime Minister David Cameron pledged Britain’s support for president Muhammadu  Buhari’s war against corruption.
Hours after the ex-minister’s arrest, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) sealed off her high brow Asokoro,Abuja residence for a search.
Sources said the anti corruption agency had a court warrant to conduct the search.