Abuja — Former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, is to stand trial on a fresh bribery allegation in the United Kingdom. The alleged offence, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), was said to have been committed during her tenure as Minister of Petroleum.
Alison-Madueke fled Nigeria shortly after former President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office. The Buhari administration had accused the former petroleum minister of corruption and filed various charges against her, including the permission from courts of competent jurisdiction to seize properties linked to her on grounds that they are proceeds of crime.
Besides, the former administration also sought for orders to extradite her to Nigeria to come and face charges against her.
She was first arrested in London in October 2015, but was granted bail.
However, eight years after, the 63-year-old mother is billed to appear in court in the British capital on October 2.
The fresh charge filed by the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) accused Alison-Madueke of collecting bribe from contractors before awarding them projects, AFP reported.
A statement by the head of the NCA, International Corruption Unit, Andy Kelly, stated, “We suspect Diezani Alison-Madueke abused her power in Nigeria and accepted financial rewards for awarding multi-million pound contracts.”
According to the NCA, Alison-Madueke allegedly benefited from at least £100,000 ($127,000) in cash, chauffeur-driven cars, flights on private jets, luxury holidays for her family, and the use of multiple London properties.
The charges also detailed financial rewards, including furniture, renovation work, and staff for the properties, payment of private school fees, and gifts from top designer shops, such as Cartier jewellery and Louis Vuitton goods.
“Bribery is a pervasive form of corruption, which enables serious criminality and can have devastating consequences for developing countries,” Kelly said.
“These charges are a milestone in what has been a thorough and complex international investigation,” he added.
AFP also reported that Alison-Madueke had been living in the Upmarket St John’s Wood area of North London since she was first arrested, and undergone chemotherapy for breast cancer, according to her family.
At the time of her arrest, the NCA said it had detained five people in London on suspicion of international corruption, without naming those held.
The NCA said assets worth millions of pounds in relation to the case had been frozen as part of the investigation.
In March, the agency, which targets international and organised crime, provided evidence to the US Department of Justice allowing them to recover assets totalling $53.1 million linked to Alison-Madueke’s alleged corruption.
Alison-Madueke, in office from 2010 to 2015, was the first woman to be oil minister in Nigeria and the first female president of the global oil cartel, OPEC.
Soon after her arrest, her family’s lawyer told AFP she would strongly contest corruption allegations that had dogged her during and after her time in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.