How Diezani’s lawyer stopped us from interrogating her in the UK – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has alleged that the lawyers of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke prevented its team of investigators from meeting her.

The agency said this in a counter-affidavit filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja.

What happened:

  • The former minister had filed a motion seeking an amendment to the heading of the charges filed against a businessman, Mr. Olajide Omokore, and five others by adding her name to the list of defendants so that she could defend herself.
  • The EFCC had preferred nine counts of criminal diversion of about $1.6bn, alleged to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government, against Omokore and the other five defendants.
  • The judge, in his ruling, struck out the count in which Alison-Madueke’s name was mentioned but held that he could not grant any of the three prayers sought by the minister.

The defendants:

The defendants include Diezani Alison-Madueke, Jide Omokore; his two companies, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited.

Others are a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, Victor Briggs; a former Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Abiye Membere; and a former Manager, Planning and Commercial of the NNPC, David Mbanefo.

What is happening:

  • EFCC said its efforts to interrogate her over the allegations had been abortive as her lawyer, John Binns of BCL Solicitors, refused to allow the commission meet her.

The counter-affidavit stated, “That sometime in 2015, the commission received an intelligence report bordering on abuse of office, criminal breach of trust, stealing, conversion and receiving stolen properties.

“That the commission further assessed the intelligence report and found that there was merit in same. Investigation was conducted in respect of this case before a charge was preferred against the defendants (Omokore and others).

“That at the tail end of the tenure of the applicant as Minister of Petroleum Resources, the commission received a lot of complaints and intelligence reports against the applicant, alleging that she was involved in various corrupt practices, money laundering, stealing of public funds and illegal acquisition of properties within and outside Nigeria.

“That immediately the applicant (Alison-Madueke) got to know that investigations had commenced in respect of her various nefarious illegal financial activities while she was the Minister of Petroleum Resources, she absconded from Nigeria in order to escape the investigation and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

“That upon realising that the applicant is in the United Kingdom, we made efforts to schedule a meeting with the applicant in order to interview her in respect of her involvement in the activities leading to this charge and many other alleged financial crimes linked to her but up till now, she had always avoided having any meeting with members of our team.

“That the applicant’s lawyer in the United Kingdom, one John Binns of BCL Solicitors, informed the members of the team of investigators headed by Abdulrasheed Bawa, when they visited the United Kingdom in March, 2017, that the team would not be permitted to meet the applicant for any interview in view of the fact that she is not within the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That while in the United Kingdom, the applicant had been invited by the Metropolitan Police, who are investigating her for several other financial crimes. She has been released on bail in the United Kingdom but could not leave the United Kingdom as their investigations have reached advanced stages.”

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