*Alison-Madueke denies allegations of fraud, bribery
*Lawyer says her passport was not seized
09 October 09, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has revealed that it is expanding its investigation into allegations of fraud by the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
A source at the anti-graft agency who spoke with our correspondent in Abuja explained that, “We are closing in on some of the former Minister’s business associates, including her aides. We are expanding our investigation to other players in and around the sector.”
He added that the Commission’s investigation was going beyond the ex-Minister to ensure that all the perpetrators involved in looting or mismanaging the industry’s funds were brought to book.
“You know how this industry operates. Fraudulent acts occur in a chain fashion. The scandal in the sector runs through a syndicate. Some of these people will need to explain one or two things,” he said.
He added that the EFCC may, in the days to come, also interact with some former general managers, executive directors and group managing directors of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“Preliminary investigation showed that one or two former GMDs may have resisted certain unsavoury developments in the oil sector when Mrs Alison-Madueke was in charge,” he added.
The source also confirmed that the Commission raided some offices and homes in Lagos and Abuja, and confiscated some documents and phones belonging to the suspects.
He added that the Commission is in the process of screening the call logs of the former Minister’s business associates, friends and selected players in the oil and gas sector as part of the investigation.
Six companies are being investigated by the anti-graft agency. They were not named yesterday.
When asked about some companies under the searchlight of the EFCC, the source said: “At least about six companies, but we will not release their identities so as not to jeopardise the investigation.”
Another source confirmed the screening of call logs of some suspected oil magnates and business associates of the former minister.
The source said, “We are doing forensic analysis of the call logs for more clues on how some fraudulent practices were perpetrated. We are screening Mrs. Alison-Madueke call logs, including the ones she made through a third party handset.
“And the profiling of the call logs of some suspected players in the oil and gas sector so far has been revealing
“After the screening of the call logs, we will return all the handsets to their owners.”
Meanwhile, the former Petroleum Resources Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke has denied allegations of money laundering and bribery levelled against her.
She was invited along with four others by the United Kingdom’s National Crimes Agency (NCA) last Friday but she denied being questioned over allegations of fraud.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke, who responded through a statement yesterday by Oscar M. Onwudiwe, the legal attorney to the Agama and Madueke families, also denied that her international passport was seized by UK authorities.
The statement accused the media of choosing to engage in “a frenzy” rather than contact the family for its reaction.
According to the statement, “The Madueke family is appalled at the ongoing media frenzy against Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke following an invitation to her by the British authorities last Friday for reasons which have yet to be disclosed.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the family would like to state categorically that it has no issues with any persons from the family being invited anywhere in the world to answer questions about their private or official conduct.
“The Madueke family believes in law and order, honour and due process
“It is a deliberate and vicious campaign to demonise members of the Madueke family, with all manner of frivolous allegations.”
The statement further noted that, “It is worth emphasising that Mrs Alison-Madueke was never arrested or detained and her passport was never seized. She was merely invited, and she honoured it promptly.
“The Madueke family, like most other families, have their own challenges. For instance, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke has been receiving treatment for cancer in the UK which started while she was in office.
“The health crisis has unfortunately exacerbated in recent times. She completed months of chemotherapy just last week and she is scheduled to undergo surgery next week in London.
“The family has been bearing this challenge with prayers and as much grace and fortitude as possible; and would plead with all reasonable Nigerians to pray for her recovery so that she can face this allegation and give account of her stewardship. Yes, she can—and very well, too.
“The Madueke and Agama families would want the decent public to know that neither Ugonna nor Somze or Abiye or anyone related to the two families was picked up or arrested or invited for questioning by anybody whatsoever. Ugonna’s father (the Rear Admiral) has been in Lagos and working in his office.
“The lies about his having travelled with a team of lawyers should please stop. The Madueke family has taken a decision on how to appropriately deal with those who are on a mission to soil their hard earned family name.”
On the ex-minister’s mother, the statement said: “Mrs. Beatrice Agama, the 81-year old mother of Mrs. Diezani Madueke, owns a house in the United Kingdom. A LIE! Mrs. Agama has no house or property in the United Kingdom.
“She has been staying in a rented two-bedroom flat from where she is receiving medical attention for a broken femur.”
The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested Mrs. Alison-Madueke and four others last Friday for alleged bribery and money laundering.