23 January 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said the anti-graft agency will meet the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke in court whenever she is ready to face the allegations against her.
The anti-graft agency said it would not “join issues” with the Mrs. Alison-Madueke, who has been accused of corruption and embezzlement of funds during her time as petroleum minister during ex-president Goodluck Jonathan’s regime.
The EFCC’s position comes a day following an explosive statement from Alison-Madueke, where she denied several allegations of corruption, including in the infamous Malabu Oil scam, adding that that the agency is making “false and unsubstantiated claims” against her.
A senior EFCC official in response to this said: “We hope to meet her in court if she is ready and can therefore not join issues with her at this point.
“If the former minister has no case to answer, she should come forward and meet us in court instead of raising a false alarm to whip up sentiment and run away from the issues.”
Recall that the EFCC had recently obtained temporary order forfeiting the $153.3 million allegedly stashed away by the former minister in various accounts, to the federal government.
But the former minister, in a rebuttal made available to journalists yesterday, denied the ownership of the said money and challenged the EFCC to publish the details of the accounts, their owners and in which NNPC’s accounts the money was taken and when.
She said she was saddened by what she called “media trial” by the EFCC and wondered what the commission was out to achieve by making “false and unsubstantiated claims” against her.
In a statement she signed and forwarded to media houses on Saturday, Diezani said she finally chose to respond to “inaccurate press reporting given the level of deliberate inaccuracies.
She said, “I am now forced to respond because it is clear that the EFCC is taking advantage of my silence to try me by media and to convict me in the eyes of the public on false reports.”
The lengthy statement reads in part, “THE $153.3MILLION ALLEGATION: I am deeply disturbed and bewildered by recent media reports claiming that by virtue of an order of the Federal High Court, I have forfeited to the Federal Government, the sum of $153.3m which I purportedly stole from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
“I wish to state that I cannot forfeit what was never mine. I do not know the basis on which the EFCC have chosen to say that I am the owner of these funds as no evidence was provided to me before the order was obtained and they have not, in fact, served me with the order or, any evidence since they obtained it.
“Let me restate categorically as I have always maintained, for the record, I have NOT and WILL NEVER Steal Money from OR DEFRAUD the Federal Government of Nigeria. I am willing to respond to any charges brought against me that follow duly laid down procedures. However, in their typical manner and style, the EFCC have gone to the media to attempt to prosecute their case as trial by TV and other media, rather than go through the onerous but tried and tested means of the Judicial Court process.
“In the face of the obvious falsification of facts and misinformation, it is only right and proper that the EFCC should publish the details of the $153.3M lodgements, the bank account numbers and the account beneficiaries showing proof of my link to them. Having also alleged that the said $153.3M was ‘wired’ from NNPC, the EFCC should also publish details of the NNPC accounts from where the said $153.3 million was taken from, with proof that I authorized such a transaction/transactions acting either in my private capacity or, as the Honourable Minister of Petroleum.
On the Malabu oil scam, Alison-Madueke noted that “with regards to the various news reports published in both the online and print media, insidiously inferring that I was indicted by Italian prosecutors for, as they put it, ‘sharing in the Loot’ of the $1.3bn OPL 245 oil block deal that involved Malabu and the Joint Venture Multinational partners, ENI (AGIP) and Royal Dutch Shell.
“Let me once again State for the record, that this is another figment of the author’s imagination, which given the persistent bid to ensure my destruction and stick all of the Sins of the Corruption plagued Oil and Gas Sector of over the last 30years upon my head, probably emanated from the EFCC itself!”