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Diezani Alison-Madueke Fights Back Against Al Jazeera, Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War

Nigeria’s much-reported former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, today lashed out at a report in Al Jazeera on Monday, calling it the latest attempt “to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it,” and attempting to dress her in the garb of a common criminal.

Citing a claim in the report that she owns a property in Abuja allegedly worth $18 million, as well as clips of jewelry of over $2 million in value that were copiously displayed, she asked: “When did it become a crime to own a property in Nigeria?  When did it become a crime for a woman of my status to have in her possession, jewelry? Jewelry, which women all across the world, including the woman selling tomatoes in Bodija market have in abundance in their closets? In which court of law, anywhere in the world was I prosecuted by the EFCC and found guilty of corruption?”

Mrs. Alison-Madueke, speaking for posterity, published her academic and professional profile, from her days as a student of architecture in England to being appointed Minister for Petroleum Resources in April 2010.

“All through my career, I have strived to maintain a record of hard work, integrity and excellence, giving my best to society, because my parents raised me in the consciousness that a man or woman’s greatness is defined not by the amount of wealth they have acquired but the impact of their service to God and humanity,” she said. 

She dismissed the Al Jazeera report as “the height of journalistic brigandage and a sheer mockery of Nigeria’s anti-corruption war before the eyes of the world who are watching and asking if the war against corruption is a circus show where suspects are prosecuted and sentenced on the pages of newspapers and video blogs without anything as remotely in the semblance of a trial in the courts of law.”

The former Minister situated the report in the context of her reported battle with cancer, describing what she called a “poorly executed propaganda bares (sic) on its face like tribal marks, a clearly malicious attempt to victimize an innocent woman in what appears an exaggerated plot to validate and give credibility to the anti-corruption crusade under Nigeria’s new regime.”

Mrs. Alison-Madueke spoke of her regard for the law, and expressed the faith that those who have breached the laws that govern societies should be made to face the wrath of the law.

“But in a civilized society, a responsible government owes its citizens absolute commitment to the principles of rule of law, equity, fairness and justice,” she said, adding: “I have been wrongfully and maliciously maligned and those behind this reckless action know it.”

She said she would leave her detractors to posterity, their conscience and God. 

In a reaction, a political analyst this morning declared the former Minister to be right in what he called her “imperious” outrage, and blamed the Nigerian government for its approach to fighting corruption. 

“The woman has been out of office for over one year, and not one charge has been filed against her in any court by the government.  It is evident she intends to use her poor health, if indeed she is sick, as a ploy in any prosecution, but given all the atrocities she is alleged to be responsible for or a part of, why is her trial in the press, not in court?”

He then asked rhetorically, “Is Alison-Madueke an uncommon criminal, as she suggests, a common criminal, or is she no criminal at all?”

Coincidentally, only yesterday, the federal government and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation filed a motion before the Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking an order of mareva injunction, directing 19 Nigerian banks, eight foreign banks and eight local and international firms to freeze the funds and assets they hold on behalf of Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko, allies of Mrs. Alison-Madueke.  The two men are being investigated in connection with a series of multi-billion dollar petrol import and crude export deals.

Mr. Omokore is the chairman of Atlantic Energy Concept Nigerian Limited (AEDC) and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited (AEBD), which are the first and second defendants in the suit.  In 2011, Atlantic Energy Limited, a newly-registered company, allegedly received from the Goodluck Jonathan administration public assets valued in multibillion dollar terms without due process.

Despite that, it was awarded controlling stakes in lucrative oil blocks OML 30 and 34 for just over $50 million each.  The deal, which was signed by Mrs. Alison-Madueke, gave Atlantic Energy Limited a controlling 55 percent stake in the oil block.

In the suit, the government is also seeking an order to freeze or confiscate, among others, several local and international luxury properties owned by the defendants, including the Galatica Star, a $50 million “Super yatch” owned by Mr. Aluko, and three private jets.  Other assets listed include expensive watch collections and a collection of 58 vehicles. 

The government is also asking the court for an order to confiscate in the next few days all sums of money and negotiable instruments of credit of the defendants domestic accounts held in the 19 domestic banks, estimated to be $1.76 billion.

Many homes and properties are being pursued in such places as Los Angeles, New York, Dubai, Switzerland, London, Canada, and Lagos.