Nigeria's former Petroleum Minister - Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke has refuted claims by the country's anti-corruption agency - Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that she has forfeited stolen funds to the tune of $153.3m to the Federal Government.
Recently, there were media reports of an order of the Federal High Court obtained by the EFCC, to forfeit the money allegedly stolen from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC).
Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke
Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke
However, Alison-Madueke noted that: "It is saddening that after eight years of serving my country, my experience as a public servant has been fraught with continuous malicious castigation and character assassination, all in the name of ‘personal vendettas’ or political horse trading. It has become apparent to many that these untruths told were at best well-crafted fables."
She said: "I have up till now chosen to maintain my silence and not to respond to inaccurate press reporting. However, given the level of deliberate inaccuracies, 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."
Excerpts from Mrs. Alison-Madueke's rebuttal:
1. THE $153.3MILLION ALLEGATION
I am deeply disturbed and bewildered by recent media reports (Premium Times Thursday 12 January, 2017 and other dailies about the same time) 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.
First and foremost, 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 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. As at the time of my writing this rebuttal (Thursday 19th January, 2017) the EFCC have 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.
Let me re-state 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.
Let me state for the record that as Minister of Petroleum, the operation and management of NNPC finances were outside my purview as outlined in both the Petroleum Act and the NNPC Act. The only involvement I had in NNPC Finances was in terms of statutory matters, where the Petroleum Act prescribed that as Minister, there were certain duties or actions which I had to perform or take in relation to NNPC.
(To be continued.)