A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has disclosed that she can not forfeit some assets to the nation’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, because those assets originally never belonged to her.
The former Minister who is faced with several corruption-related cases within and outside the country stated this in reaction to the recent court rulings secured by the EFCC demanding the forfeiture of some cash traced to her.
Diezani Alison-Madueke in a statement released by her media team noted that she can’t forfeit assets and monies that does not belong to her.
“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). Whilst the reasons for my being out of the country are public knowledge, the principle of fair hearing demands that I should have been notified of formal charges if truly there was a prima facie evidence or indictment against my person linking me with the said issue, so as to ensure that I had adequate legal representation. This was never done. I wish to state that I cannot forfeit what was never mine.
“I do not know the basis on which the EFCC has 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. As of the time of my writing this rebuttal, the EFCC has still not furnished me or my lawyers with a copy of the order. I am also informed by my lawyers that the legislation under which the EFCC obtained this order is for situations where the funds are believed to be the proceeds of crime and the owner is not known.
“I do not therefore; understand how the EFCC can in the same breath say that the monies in question are mine. If they had evidence that the monies were mine then they would not/should not have used the procedure which applies only to funds of unknown ownership. If indeed they used this particular legal procedure because they did not know who owned the monies, then how can they now be falsely attributing the ownership to me?”
Diezani in the statement also dismissed allegations that the anti-graft agency found the sum of $700 million in her Abuja home.
“Would the videos of this $700 million cash discovery not have made good viewing? Or should those who recovered this money not tell the public where exactly the money has been kept. Perhaps the central bank should corroborate that it is in custody of these monies allegedly found in my house? But then, it is now patently apparent that Nigerians are no longer easily led to believe fables and sensational untruths.”
Also reacting to the claims that she took bribe while in office, the former Petroleum Minister said in the statement: “At end December 2011, I directed PPPRA to move for complete deregulation, to rid the oil and gas sector of the speculators, the bloated middlemen and the parasitic influence of God-fatherism. This was in an attempt to create a far less corruptible system as it was quite clear that the intended benefits of the Subsidy system were not reaching the masses but were being hijacked by unscrupulous middlemen cabals.”
Also reacting to the controversial $2billion which went missing from NNPC while she was in office, the former Minister stated that investigations carried out by the PriceWaterCoopers, PWC, cleared her of any wrong doing.
“In addition, the Makarfi-led committee in the senate of the federal republic of Nigeria, in a series of publicly-held hearings, also vindicated me on the matter of the purportedly missing funds. Yet, we are all silent as if these events never occurred. The allegations that I have addressed above are no different, the character assassination continues, this time with a new set of hirelings. One of the basic tenets of the human trait is that we all have shortcomings and we all make our fair share of mistakes, whether we are in positions of leadership, or not. It is therefore sad and distressing that in spite of all that I tried to do in the best interest of our nation, I continue to be faced with constant demonisation, unproven accusations, and deeply personal insults. The fight against corruption in Nigeria will be far better served if the EFCC focus on incontrovertible facts, as opposed to media sensationalism and completely distorted stories, in their bid to demonize and destroy a few specially chosen Nigerians. Documentary evidence is available to support the facts.”