By Stephen Ubanna
Barely six years of leaving office as minister of Petroleum Resources during Goodluck Jonathan Presidency, Diezani Allinson –Madueke, a one-time Executive Director, Shell Petroleum Development Compmany, SPDC, has never known peace. This is because past and present Leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, have been after her over alleged cases of financial misappropriation while office.
Unknown to the former Petroleum minister the EFCC ,had beamed its searchlight on her while in office. It was a matter of time for the alleged financial Crimes Committed by her and others in office to be exposeed. The opportunity came cam in 2015, when the then President Jonathan lost the general elections to Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General and Candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC. The former Petroleum minister may have known that the bubble has burst with Jonathan losing the Presidential to the Opposition APC Candidate, who was bent on ruling the cost at all cost to implement his anti-Corruption policy. She was forced to relocate to the United Kingdom, UK, to escape the Commission arrest.
Escaping to the UK, may not have stopped the anti-graft agency officials from carrying out their investigations on her. Abdulrasheed Bawa, a trained detective, who incidentally is the current Chairman of the Commission was said to have led the investigations on her, making new discoveries on her ill-gotten wealth running into millions of dollars, in both property and cash , which were recovered for the government through Court Condemnation between 2017 and 2019.
Diezani may have had at the back of her mind that with removal of Ibrahim Magu, a Commissioner of Police and former acting Chairman of the Commission in 2020, by the Katsina state born Nigerian President, the agency will give her a breather. She got it wrong. This is because the Kebbi state born 41year –old Chairman of the agency, had been involved in investigating her since 2015 and would see to its conclusion.
This may have informed why he could speak authoritatively on Dizani’s loot in office. The agency investigations had exposed the 61 year-old Bayelsa state politician , described as one of the most powerful ministers in the then Jonatha Administration because of their closeness. Based on the report of the investigators on her, the Commission was said to have secured the final Court judgment in 2019, for the former Petroleum minister to forfeit 80 houses owned in major cities in the country, particular, Lagos, Abuja, PortHarcourt and Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state Capital.
Appearing before the House of Representatives, ad’hoc Committee investigating the assessment and the status of recovered loot from past political leaders and appointees, between 2002 and 2020, who had been found wanting by the Commission on Friday, May 29, 2021, Bawa, the EFCC Chairman had put the value of the forfeited houses by Diezani to the government at about $80 million. He said the houses are still in the agency custody and have not been sold.
He may have shocked the Lawmakers when he said the the Commission took a decision this year to hand over one of the former Petroleum Resources forfeited properties to the Lagos state government for use as an Isolation Centre for the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus Pandemic, popular, COVID 19. He disclosed that the six flats of three bedrooms and boys quarter each owned by the former minister was forfeited to the government in 2017, following an order of a Federal High Court in Lagos Condemnation of it.
Dizani , who is on self- asylum in UK, may have known that she will be one of the major targets of the Buhari Administration to be probe by the EFCC, that she had invested much of her loot on expensive Jewelries. The revelation by the EFCC, boss when he appeared before the House ad’hoc Committee on the basement and the status of recovered assets from looters on speaks volume.
He had said that the Jewelry forfeited by the former minister of Petroleum Resources to the government was about N14.4 billion. He disclosed that the Jewelleries had been valued government agencies and the estimated value was n14.4billion. According to him, the Jewelries included wristwatches, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, earrings, a customized gold phone and more of such expensive jewelries that were said to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.
Apart from acquisition of Choice properties in different parts of the country, She was said to have also dipped hand into the till to collect $115 million alleged used in bribing the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, officials , both at the state and Federal levels to ensure that former President Jonathan win his 2015, re-election bid. Bawa, the EFCC, helmsman , said that that much in an interview published in the April EFCC Alert, which is an in-house Magazine.
Another celebrated EFCC investigated case that has become the talk of many Nigerians in the recent time was the James Onanefe Ibori, a former governor of Delta state loot. There have been news making the rounds that the #4.2 million looted from the state treasury have been recovered to the UK, government and returned to the Niger Delta state which was prompty denied by Ifeanyi Okowa, a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria and now governor of the state.
Iwas also alleged that Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, an Attorney General of the Federation and minisetr of Justice’s office shared part of the Ibori’s loot. The rumour became so pronounced that the minister to speak out, denying the allegations. A Statement issued by Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations , of the office of the Federal Attorney General and the minister of Justice speaks volume.
Given an insider information on the recovered loots, Gwandu, the minister Special Assistant on Media, had said that ‘’prior to the repatriation of all recovered assets, Nigeria and all the relevant nations including the UK, had signed a memorandum of understanding, MOU, as to that the monies will be put to use ‘’, noting that ‘’ the government has been working in Compliance with all the provisions of the multi-national agreements reached’’.
Gwandu who may have issued a Statement on the recovered loots may have spoken the mind of the mind of the minister when he said that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under the close watch of Godwin Emefiele, have a designated Bank for all recovered looted funds’’, stating that Malami, as a person, or in his capacity as the Attorney General and minister of Justice have not received any funds from the recovered assetss. A House of Representatives member had said that the CBN , had paid N2 billion to Malami, the minister of Justice from the recovered Ibori loot.
The Lawmaker was said to have cited a letter from the apex bank which had directed the release of the recovered looted funds following a request from the office of the Federal Attorney General and minister of Justice ‘’ to prosecute terror suspects’’.
The Lawmaker may not have gotten his facts right to justify his allegations against Malami, the Federal Attorney General and minister of Justice, as Ahmed Idris, the Accountant General of the Federation had said on Wednesday , May 27, 2021, that the #4,2 million looted by Ibori, the former Delta state governor has not been received from the UK, government, let alone being returned to the Delta state government.
The office of Accountant Geneal of the Federation, OAGOF, may have put to rest the Controversy surrounding the Ibori #4.2 million loot when he said that’’ the funds have not been returned to the country as being speculated’’. Henshaw Oguibike, Director of Information, Press and Public Relations in the OAGF, who had issued a Statement at the instance of the Federal Accountant General, had said that ‘’the money is still being awaited’’, noting that’’ no money has been returned to Delta state’’, a alleged.