By Ejiofor Alike with agency report
Former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is being investigated for a series of multi-billion dollar fraud and money laundering offences in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States of America allegedly threatened to squeal on Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore, and said she was prepared to go to jail with them.
Omokore and Aluko were directors of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Ltd (AEDC) and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd (AEBD), to whom the former minister awarded the contract to fund some oil leases jointly held by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NNPC), the exploration and production subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and local oil firms under a Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA).
Although Aluko stepped down from the boards of both firms around 2014, Omokore continued to run AEDC and AEBD in the capacity of chief executive.
Alison-Madueke said after opening up on everything that transpired in the controversial transactions, she would be ready to be thrown into jail along with Aluko and Omokore.
Her explosive remarks were contained in a recorded conversation recovered by investigators probing the corruption allegations against the former minister.
According to online news website, Premium Times, details of the conversations have now been filed as part of a civil complaint by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) seeking the forfeiture of over $144 million slush funds.
The trio of Alison-Madueke, Aluko and Omokore were listed as persons of interest in the civil complaint filed at the US District Court, Houston, Texas.
The complaint revealed how the three individuals laundered millions of dollars on behalf of Alison-Madueke, which was used in buying properties in the US and the UK for her family in return for oil contracts to AEDC and AEBD.
In the conversation with Aluko recorded by the former minister on May 14, 2014, an audibly angry Alison-Madueke, admitted to helping Omokore and Aluko secure the multi-billion dollars SAA deal.
In another conversation with another unknown recipient, the former minister dared Aluko to reveal details of their dealings, and then face the consequences.
She was however furious at how the ostentatious acquisitions of Aluko and Omokore might have led law enforcement agencies across the world to their dealings.
She was particularly mad at Alukoâ€™s acquisition of a the Galatical Star, a $80 million â€œsuper yachtâ€, warning that he could have rented a yacht for two weeks instead of buying one.
â€œYou and Jide (Omokore) had some of the most support that we could possibly give. At a time when weâ€™re not doing anything else, we stuck our necks out regarding the SAA and we supported it. [INAUDIBLE]
â€œHow the two of you have ruined it is incredulous and incredible to all of us,â€ she said.
â€œI spoke to you several times about your general behaviour, acquisition of assets, etc., asking you to be a bit more careful because [INAUDIBLE] will start following you.
â€œI remember we had this open discussion more than once. You kept telling me that there was no issue because you did it in a certain way, you did it in a certainâ€”and I kept telling you that it doesnâ€™t matter how you do it.
â€œOnce you start acquiring, acquiring, acquiring at a certain level, then youâ€™ll beâ€”whether you like it or not, whether it was done in the most transparentâ€”you understand?â€” manner or not, because they will want to trace where it came from. This is an age of terrorism,
â€œIf you want to hire a yacht, you lease it for two weeks or whatever. You donâ€™t go and sink funds into it at this time when the Nigerian oil and gas sector is under all kinds of watch, as we have been for some time, and where Atlantic (AEDC and/or AEBD) itself has been the subject of all kinds of speculation,â€ she said.
Apparently while the trio allegedly schemed to launder billions of naira that should have accrued to the Nigerian government all was not well with them.
In the recorded conversation, Alison-Madueke, in response to speculations that Aluko was going to blackmail her, threatened to spill the beans.
She said she was ready to reveal to Nigerians all that happened and was ready to follow Aluko and Omokore to jail.
â€œI said tell him (Aluko) to bring everything out, and then you know what will happen? No problem, I will be happy to escort all of you to jail along with myself. I said, in fact, youâ€™ll be shocked by what I will do. Because when it comes to that, I will come out and tell the Nigerian people this is what happened.
â€œOh, yes, I will blame myself, but it [INAUDIBLE] place and everything. Anything they want to say, I am happy to go. But I will come out openly and say it so that they can judge me openly. And then all of us go and sit on the gate. Let us see who survives [INAUDIBLE], me or you,â€ she said.
Alison-Madueke also acknowledged that the furniture she was given by the duo of Aluko and Omokore was not worth more than $4million.
â€œThe furniture they gave me didnâ€™t come to more than four million dollars, altogether. [INAUDIBLE] it is (the) truth. I was with [INAUDIBLE],â€ she admitted.
Alison-Madueke, who is reported to be receiving treatment for cancer in the UK, is already facing a series of multi-billion dollar fraud-related investigations by Nigerian and UK authorities.
Last February a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the forfeiture of N34 billion linked to her, but was allegedly stashed in several Nigerian banks.
Omokore, an oil businessman, alongside some top officials of NNPC is facing a nine-count charge of criminal diversion of about $1.6 billion, being the proceeds of sales of crude oil that belonged to NPDC.
The federal government is also seeking a worldwide freeze of multi-billion dollar assets owned by Aluko and Omokore.
The assets include the $80 million Super Yacht, the Galatica and three private jets.