Former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke has reacted to allegations against her by the Nigerian government and security agencies.
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.
“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 parts “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 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.
“MALABU: 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!
“In 2010, shortly after I was appointed as Minister of Petroleum Resources, the issue of OPL 245 was brought to my attention. I looked into the case and immediately became aware of the inherent and long standing sensitivities around this issue. It became clear from the onset that this case was not within the direct purview of the Minister of Petroleum Resources but in the main was centered around issues of Law. By this time there was already an ICSID(International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) investigation and claims against the FGN running into billions of dollars. Therefore, we took directives from the Chief Legal Officer of the Nation; the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. In all of these matters due process was followed to the letter at all times.
“I wish to categorically state that I have never held any discussions on this matter, with any individuals or entities outside of official channels. As Minister of Petroleum Resources, I did not participate in any activity relating to financial payments on the Malabu matter, other than those statutorily mandated to the Minister of Petroleum Resources by the Petroleum Act. My role in this matter was a purely statutory one as required by Law in the Petroleum Act
“THE ALJAZEERA REPORT – $18MILLION MANSION: On the 13th of June 2016, the EFCC once again took their well-trodden path to the media. This time claiming that they had ‘discovered’ a mansion in Asokoro, Abuja, worth $18million (approx. N9billion) which they purported to belong to me. The EFCC went to the extent of bringing in Aljazeera, an International TV Station, to air a damaging documentary against me in this regard, showing a particular residential building in Asokoro, Abuja, which they told Aljazeera belonged to me. The EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu, personally took the Aljazeera reporter to the building, alleging that it belonged to me. It has since become apparent that the house belongs to a company owned by Mr Kola Aluko.
“If this is not a witch hunt or a personal vendetta against me, how is it that one of our Country’s premier investigative agencies were unable to avail themselves of facts that are freely available in the public domain.
“Since the EFCC claims that the alleged $18million Asokoro property belongs to me, then they should kindly produce the‘Authentic’Certificate of Occupancy and Land Registry information and any other relevant information, as proof of my ownership of the property.
“FAMILY HOME – YENEGOA, BAYELSA STATE: On the 9th November 2016, the EFCC visited our Family home in Yenegoa (Bayelsa State) as pre-agreed and they were escorted around the premises. I was therefore completely shocked to once again see my name sensationally splashed across the Front Pages of Newspapers and widely circulated on the internet.
“It is accepted Tradition across the length and breadth of Nigeria, for people to own Country/Village homes. Given the size of the land and the location of the compound, the buildings thereon cannot by any stretch of the imagination be a “Multi-Billion Naira” palatial estate, as the news mongers would want to portray.
“The EFCC were taken on a tour of the compound which consisted of A Main house, and two outhouses – An Obi (meeting bungalow) and a staff quarters(BQ) building – above which we built 3 guest rooms and a parlour. The only other 2 structures are the gate and generator houses. Construction began in late 2011 and was handled in phases. During the visit the EFCC was given the bill of quantities, which up until the time construction stopped in early 2015, due to my illness, was at approximately N394million which was declared in the code of conduct documentation, attached (the costs were partially funded by a loan – the work is still uncompleted and the contractor is still being owed). Building costs escalated as a result of delays in construction and external factors such as the extreme flooding of late 2012, that covered most of our areas in the Niger Delta.
“$700 Million Cash Found In My House: Stories were circulated by unscrupulous agents of calumny that the EFCC found a mind boggling $700million in cash in my home in Abuja. 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.
“THE MISSING $20 BILLION: In late 2013, NNPC was accused by the then CBN governor, of misappropriating first $49.8billion, then it changed to $12billion and finally it was said to be $20billion. And in the twinkling of an eye that accusation was turned around and directed at me, personally. I was accused of stealing/misappropriating the unfathomable amount of $20 billion.
“In a CNN TV Interview in March 2015, the former CBN Governor stated that “there was this gap of $20 billion after reconciliation between what NNPC exported and what it repatriated to the federation account and I raised a number of issues that I think have not yet been discussed and addressed sufficiently. One of them is billions of dollars being paid in kerosine subsidy without appropriation by the National Assembly and against a presidential order and we don’t know who authorised these payments yet. Nobody has owned up to say I authorised these payments, I made a mistake, it will stop…”. He, went on to say that…. “…It could be $20 billion at the end of the day, after reconciliation they could account for 10 or 12…”. So, as he pointed out, there was indeed a reconciliation that at first stage had begun to close the purported gap.
“He had stated severally that a large portion of the $20billion was constituted of illegal approvals for Subsidy payments that I had given and that the late President Yar’adua had directed that the said subsidy payments should be stopped and that I did not comply with President Yar’adua’s directive. I have said it before but let me say it again. President Yar’adua’s directives were made in a presidential memo dated June 10, 2009, to the late Petroleum Minister, Rilwanu Lukman, not to me. I was not the Minister of Petroleum Resources at that time. My tenure as Petroleum Minister began in April, 2010. Those directives were not complied with by Rilwanu Lukman, not Diezani Alison-Madueke.
“I made several attempts when we came into office in April 2010, to get to the real truth of the matter. Even before we came in the GMD who served under Rilwanu Lukman, Alhaji Barkindo, who is today the Secretary General of OPEC, had written to the then Minister of Finance, Alhaji Muhktar, to enquire for clarity on the matter, to no avail. Finally, I had to write to President Jonathan to get to the truth of the matter. President Jonathan pointed out that although he and President Yar’adua had wanted to cancel the entire issue of subsidies, the unions had objected and therefore the payment of subsidy had never been stopped. He directed that in the meantime we continue the payments but with the proviso that we prepare for complete deregulation as soon as possible(Annex-2C), which I of course moved to implement on Jan 1st, 2012.
“Today, we all know that the PWC report that was published cleared me of any wrong doing and no one up till now has been able to controvert the PWC report, nor has anyone been able to show that the $20 billion is actually, or was ever, missing. 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.”