By Ese Awhotu with agency report
The Federal Government of Nigeria has begun the process of extraditing a former minister of petroleum, Alison Madueke from the United Kingdom where she is currently facing trial for alleged fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission yesterday confirmed that the process to bring back former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke, from the United Kingdom has begun.
Acting spokesman of the Commission, Mr. Tony Orilade, gave the confirmation in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.
Recall that Mrs. Alison-Madueke is being investigated for money laundering in the UK where she currently is.
The EFCC had said it traced N47.2 billion and $487.5million to the ex-minister.
The anti-graft agency had also instituted a five-count charge of money laundering suit amounting to N500 million against Dele Belgore, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and Abubakar Suleiman, a former minister of National Planning.
The ex-petroleum minister’s name appeared in the charge sheet as an accomplice and was tagged by the anti-graft agency as being ‘at large.’
However, in September 2017, an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court struck out a charge that indicted the former Minister of Petroleum Resources to the illegal diversion of about $1.6billion from proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.
NAN reports that there have been calls from different quarters for the former minister to return to the country to answer several allegations of financial impropriety against her.
According to Orilade, EFCC’s Operations Department had made presentation to the Legal Department to commence the process, noting that the process has commenced.
He, however, said that the action had to be processed through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, explaining that it was not something the Commission could commence and conclude on its own.
“It is ongoing. Within the next few weeks, the extent to which we have gone will be made known to the public.
“It is not a fresh case; it is not a fresh petition that is just being looked into; the whole process is a total package.
“This request to have Mrs. Alison-Madueke back in Nigeria is just an aspect of Diezani’s investigation and commencement of trial,” he said.
In 2017, a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the final forfeiture of N7.6bn alleged loot recovered from the former minister to the Federal Government.
Justice Abdulazeez Anka granted an application by the EFCC seeking the final forfeiture of the money to the government.
Granting the application, the judge had said: “I have read the motion on notice seeking the final forfeiture of the sum of N7.6 billion reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.
“I have also gone through the affidavit in support of the application.
“In the circumstances, I am of the view that the application has merit and is hereby granted as prayed. Parties have a right of appeal.”
In October, 2017, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had said that Nigeria had no immediate plan to bring Allison-Madueke back home to face trial.
Allison-Madueke, who is being investigated in the UK, had urged the Federal Government to bring her back to the country to face corruption charges against her.
But, Malami said that bringing her back to the country would jeopardise the investigation being carried on her in the UK.
“Steps have been taken by the United Kingdom authorities on issues bothering on corrupt practices involving Nigerians.
“If Nigeria feels strongly that there is need to bring Mrs Diezani
Allison-Madueke here to face charges of corruption, government will not hesitate to do that.
“As things stand now, there is no need for that since the UK Government is already investigating her,’’ he had said.
According to NAN, the EFCC spokesman could not, however, say the point at which it became necessary to seek extradition of the former minister.