Nigerian ex-oil minister becomes Dominican citizen amid a corruption investigation

The news has been described as akin to the chess move of the decade. Some have called it the best political gimmick ever carried out by a Nigerian politician under corruption indictment.

But one thing is certain, a former Nigerian petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke who has been indicted and is being prosecuted in a multi-million dollar corruption case has become a citizen and a political appointee of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.

The letter of appointment from the Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit made available to the media states:

“I am pleased to confirm your appointment as Trade and Investment Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Dominica. Please note that this posting does not attract a remunerative package. In that respect, I am particularly encouraged by your willingness to serve.

When news filtered in few days ago about Diezani Alison-Madueke, the first question many Nigerians asked was what would become of the case against her.

Diezani is on trial in Nigeria on allegations of corruption, including fraudulent ownership of 76 properties in three different Nigerian cities – Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, valued at about N23 billion ($53 in today’s exchange rate) She has 14-count charge case against her bordering on stealing and concealment of $153million.

On 28 August 2017, a Nigerian federal court seized $21 million from bank accounts linked to Alison-Madueke.

The court also ordered forfeiture of $40m worth of jewellery seized from her home by officials of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commssion during a search of her home.

In a trending topic on social media on Sunday, many questioned how this move eluded the authorities in Nigeria. Dominican Republic has no extradition treaty with Nigeria.

Findings suggest that this is a move she may have engineered just before she left office in 2015. Apparently, she had been issued a diplomatic passport by Dominican Republic in 2015 before the handover of the government of her principal former President Goodluck Jonathan to current President Muhammadu Buhari.

In reaction, a document by the EFCC suggests that Alison-Madueke lobbied the Dominican government to evade arrest and prosecution.

The EFCC says, “The passport (number DP0000445) contained 32 pages and in one of the pages, a restraining statement against arrest is made.

The restraining order reads as follows: 

‘The President of the Commonwealth of Dominica requests and requires in the Name of the Government of Dominica all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary. She is strengthened by a diplomatic shield which no law enforcement agency around the world can ignore. Besides, her British citizenship is another protective hedge she has been using against repatriation to Nigeria, to answer overwhelming charges of corruption against her.’

With the new political engagement of Alison-Madueke, one thing is clear, the case against her is going nowhere anytime soon and neither is it going to be resolved anytime soon.

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