Diezani Appears in UK Court over Bribery Charge, Granted £70k Bail

Diezani Appears in UK Court over Bribery Charge, Granted £70k Bail
  • Declared flight risk, to wear electronic tag

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The United Kingdom government on Monday brought a former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, before a London court over a charge relating to bribery.

Mrs Alison-Madueke, who appeared before a Westminster Magistrate Court, was reported to have given her name, date of birth and address.

According to report, the former minister who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan, is being accused by the British government of receiving bribes in the form of cash, luxury goods, flights on private jets and the use of high-end properties in Britain in return for awarding oil contracts.

Her lawyer, Mark Bowen, informed the court that his client intends to enter a not guilty plea, when she would be asked to take her plea.

Alison-Madueke, who was Minister for Petroleum Resources between 2010 and 2015, fled Nigeria at the inception of the former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, following plans by the new administration to prosecute her over corruption allegations.

Although, she had claimed to have left Nigeria for overseas treatment of a life threatening disease, however, she was yet to return to the country since 2015.

Also efforts by the immediate past administration to repatriate her to face charges of corruption in Nigeria, were unsuccessful.

She would be the second high-profile Nigerian politician to face prosecution in Britain in recent years, following James Ibori, a former Governor of Delta State, who was convicted of fraud and money-laundering in 2012 and received a 13-year jail sentence, Reuters observed.

Alison-Madueke was arrested in London in 2015, shortly after stepping down as minister, and was charged in August with six bribery offences. She has spent the past eight years on police bail, living in St John’s Wood, an expensive area of London.

The charges against her, read out in court, all related to events alleged to have taken place in London.

Prosecutor Andy Young said she was alleged to have accepted a wide range of advantages in cash and in kind from people who wanted to receive or continue to receive the award of oil contracts which he said were worth billions of dollars in total.

The advantages included a delivery of 100,000 pounds ($121,620) in cash, the payment of private school fees for her son, and the use and refurbishment of several luxurious properties in London and in the English countryside.

They also included the use of a Range Rover car, payment of bills for chauffeur-driven cars, furniture, and purchases from the upmarket London department store Harrods and from Vincenzo Caffarella, which sells Italian decorative arts and antiques.

District Judge Michael Snow granted Alison-Madueke bail but imposed terms including an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, an electronic tag to be worn at all times and a 70,000-pound surety to be paid before she could leave the court building.

Her next court appearance will be at Southwark Crown Court, which deals with serious criminal cases, on October 30.

Reuters observed that Britain, Nigeria’s former colonial ruler, has long been a destination of choice for affluent members of the Nigerian political elite seeking to enjoy the benefits of their wealth.

London is a global money-laundering hub but it remains rare for public figures like Alison-Madueke to face prosecution for corruption-related offences, the report added.

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