There are indications that the federal government may not get the required cooperation from the governments of United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada and others, where alleged looters of the nation’s wealth are currently taking refuge, Blueprint can authoritatively reveal.
This is coming on the heel of moves by the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, who recently visited the UK to seek the extradition of former Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke.
Following the EFCC’s plea, a Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, had ordered the final forfeiture of two properties in Lagos, allegedly belonging to the former minister, to the federal government.
The properties are: Pent House 21, Building 5, Block C, 11th floor (Bella Vista Estate) located at Plot 1, Zone N. Federal Government Layout, Banana Island, Ikoyi, and Lagos.
The other is Pent House 22, Block B (Admiralty Estate), located at Gerald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. She is similarly accused of having some choice properties in London.
While the EFCC is frantically moving for the extradition of the former petroleum minister, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, insisted there was no need to bring her home to face the corruption charges since the UK authorities were already carrying out their investigation.
Malami, it would be recalled, had told State House correspondents in Abuja that the move was not necessary since the United Kingdom was already investigating the former minister.
While Malami said the UK authorities were taking appropriate steps on the matter, he nevertheless pointed out that should the need to bring her back arise; the federal government won’t hesitate to do so.
But expressing concerns over the challenges faced by the commission in getting Diezani and other looters extradited, our source alleged that their host nations were not ready to let them go because of some pecuniary reasons.
“I can tell you authoritatively that these people are not supporting the moves by the country to extradite Nigerians, as well as repatriate these monies back to Nigeria. You know it was these monies they used to build their countries.
“The commission is currently interacting with other agencies to facilitate the process of extraditing this woman and others back to the country. Remember, specifically, Diezani Alison-Madueke has been in London for over three years now, and the British government claimed she is under investigation, but is yet to charge her to court. You also know that these people are not supporting our fight against corruption.
“USA, Canada, UK and others are not supporting the fight against corruption of President Buhari-led government because they realised that it was our money that they used to bring meaningful development to their countries, and so, if these monies were repatriated, they would feel it.
“So, I can tell you that they are supporting corruption. For instance, British government claimed “Nigerians is fantastically corrupt” but what have they done when our people brought these monies to their country?” the source queried.
Expressing optimism that the commission will get the job done, the source added: “But I can assure you the commission is doing everything possible to ensure she is extradited back to Nigeria to come and answer questions on the corruption charges against her. You are aware that the court had given final forfeiture order on N7.6billion to the government.”
But the Head, Media and Publicity of the commission, Mr. Tony Orimolade, told Blueprint that there was no disagreement whatsoever with other sister agencies on the extradition of former minister, pointing out that the commission was talking with those with different views on the matter.
“Let me assure you that the commission is getting the required cooperation from the relevant agencies. This is all about putting the figure and the fact on the table, and getting to convince other agencies or persons that may not be on the same page.
“But with time, all would be clear, because the reason for the division is in the interest of the country Nigeria, and will better serve the purpose of extradition. So, for now, there are no issues at all, it is just to make the point clear, and making the fact and figures known to all those concerned both within and outside,” Orimolade assured.
On the disagreement with the AGF’s office over Diezani’s planned extradition, the commission’s spokesman said: “There is no disagreement with anyone. As for the commission, and as said by the chairman, the commission is on top of its game, because during the last trip of the Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu to the UK, it was top on the agenda when he had meeting with the National Crimes Agencies (NCA).
“At the meeting, there was strong reassurance, and the chairman has been very hopeful, he believes that is the best thing for Nigerians in this circumstance. Because if they are not getting justice outside, they should come back home and get justice, it is not as if anything is going on there. Most of them that left the shores of this country since 2015 when this government came on board, are just taking refuge in this foreign jurisdiction.
“So, I think it is high time they came back home for the prosecution to be concluded and the right thing done, that is the position of the commission and that is what the chairman has being saying.”
On the final forfeiture order on the N7.6billion granted by the court, Orimolade said the money is currently in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s revenue Consolidated Account.
“The final forfeiture issue, you know the commission went to court and got an interim forfeiture order. What it means is that the court will give opportunity to the suspect to come and prove his or her case that the proceed in question is not from illicit transaction, and once that period elapses, whether the persons come to prove it or not, the court again decides, if the person was able to prove of course, that is why it is interim.
“So, if the issue is resolved in favour of the suspect, everybody goes home. But if the person was not able to prove or did not come forward at all and the court decides otherwise, government of the day, that is the federal government, takes the proceed, and that is where the issue of final forfeiture comes in.
“And once there is a declaration by the court in respect of final forfeiture order, the proceed is not kept by the commission, but is move to the CBN where the consolidated revenue is kept.”