The British National Crime Agency has dispatched a team of detectives to Nigeria who are now working with the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to probe Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister, during the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
It was discovered that the team of investigators from the UK Police was drawn from the Seizures Organised Crimes Agency.
A top operative of the EFCC, who spoke on condition of anonymity said the SOCA team had been involved in a discreet investigation of Alison-Madueke for two months before they finally moved against her.
The former petroleum minister left Nigeria for London shortly before the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari in May this year under the guise of treating an unknown ailment.
It was further gathered that the team from SOCA had been working alongside a team of EFCC operatives from the Subsidy Unit led by a Chief Superintendent of Police.
The EFCC team was constituted in August 2015 by the Chairman of the anti-corruption agency, Ibrahim Lamorde, to investigate the activities of Alison-Madueke and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
The SU team was mandated to probe all the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which were under the supervision of the former minister.
Investigations further showed that the operatives from the subsidy unit of the EFCC carried out the operation at Alison-Madueke’s Asokoro residence in Abuja, following her arrest on Friday.
An operative of the commission, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the EFCC’s subsidy team ransacked the residence of the former minister for hours.
The operatives were said to have recovered several files from the ex-minister’s residence and they were carted away for further analysis by the combined team of investigators from the EFCC and the SOCA.
It was gathered that the operatives did not find anybody within the residence to guide them, so they had to get some security personnel who had worked with the former minister to gain access into the building through one of the windows.
It was further stated that the operatives later got the keys and searched all the rooms in the house for hours before they carted away the files.
The source said, “When our operatives got there, there was nobody in the building. What they did was to get the security men who were working with her to guide them through the building.
“They entered the building through one of the windows and later found the keys with which they accessed all the rooms. They found some documents in some files and they carted them away.”
Ex-minister’s probe began in 2013 — Britain
Similarly, the NCA has revealed that contrary to speculations that the corruption investigation leading to the arrest of Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister started in 2013.
The Nigerian media, both the traditional and social media platforms, were awash with reports that it was President Buhari’s recent meeting with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, and other world leaders that led to the investigation and arrest of Alison-Madueke.
The ex-minister and current President of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was arrested on Friday by the NCA’s recently formed International Corruption Unit, along with four other persons.
She was arrested in London as part of an investigation into suspected bribery and money laundering offences.
Alison-Madueke was, however, granted bail but her passport was withheld by the British authorities, pending further investigations, both in the UK and other countries.
In an update on its website, the NCA noted that the investigation started about two years ago.
“The investigation commenced in 2013 under the Proceeds of Corruption Unit, and transferred to the NCA earlier this year (2015). The International Corruption Unit investigates bribery of foreign public officials by individuals or companies from the UK and money laundering by corrupt foreign officials and their associates,” it stated.
The UK crime agency added that the ICU would also trace and recover the proceeds of Alison-Madueke’s alleged corruption and support Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies with international anti-corruption investigations.
OPEC stops using her name on website
Continuing the slide to infamy, OPEC has stop quoting Alison-Madueke on its website.
Checks on the website of OPEC on Saturday night showed that the organisation had been quoting its alternate president, Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al Sada, lately.
There was no recent mention of Alison-Madueke.
To Go on Trial this week
There were indications that a Allison-Madueke, arrested and released in the United Kingdom, on Friday, on money laundering allegations, may be charged to court, this week.
And feelers showed that she will not be the only person in the dock.
It was learnt that besides the four other persons arrested with the former minister, more suspects may also be arraigned.
The trial is expected to be conducted in London and is likely to draw thousands of Nigerians resident in the United Kingdom (UK) but no date was specified, last night, when contacts was made with the National Crime Agency (NCA), which arrested and released Diezani and the four others on Friday.
An official of the NCA gave indication of the trial in a telephone chat but pointed out that the identities of all the suspects would only be unveiled at the point of charging them to court.
The official explained that the law establishing the NCA does not allow it to name those being investigated before charging them to court.
The official said: “Indeed we cannot name the five persons who were arrested and granted police conditional bail until we are ready to charge them to court.
“The law does not permit us to do so and we will release appropriate information to the media as the case progresses”.
But it was learnt from sources close to the British government that the NCA might have concluded arrangements to arraign Diezani and other suspects believed to be mostly Nigerian oil business men, suspected to have aided and abetted money laundering while the former minister was in office.
Efforts to get the Presidency to comment on the incident failed.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, kept mum.
He also refused to speak on whether or not the Federal Government would seek the ex-minister’s extradition.