The immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, was on Friday arrested in London, PREMIUM TIMES can exclusively and authoritatively report.
The former minister, who was one of the most powerful officials of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, was arrested Friday morning by the UK National Crimes Agency, alongside four other people.
The identities of the four other people arrested along with her could not be immediately ascertained.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt she was arrested for offences related to bribery, corruption and money laundering.
Two top British officials in London confirmed the development to this newspaper. They requested not to be named because they had no permission to speak on the issue.
When contacted, the British High Commission in Nigeria confirmed that some arrests were made Friday but declined to disclose the identities of those involved.
Joseph Abuku, Press and Public Affairs Officer, said, “This morning, five people between the ages of 21 and 60 were arrested on suspicion of bribery and corruption offences. The crimes are being investigated by the National Crimes Agency.
“The National Crime Agency does not confirm identity at arrest nor provide information that could be used to corroborate the identity of an arrested individual.”
It is not clear whether the former minister was arrested based on request from the Nigerian government.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on September 27 hinted that those who misappropriated billions of naira belonging to Nigeria’s state oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation would soon be prosecuted.
Mr. Buhari said at a meeting with President Xi Jinping of China in New York that his administration was determined to fully sanitize Nigeria’s oil industry and make it totally free of corruption and shady deals.
The President did not, however, say how soon the prosecutions would start or if indeed investigations had been concluded and whether culpable individuals had been identified.
The NNPC under the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan was involved in several shady deals, many of which have been cancelled by the present government.
However, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, accused of several corrupt dealings, has stayed away from Nigeria since Mr. Buhari was sworn-in as president.
A controversial minister
Mrs. Alison-Madueke was first appointed into the federal cabinet in 2007.
A former director at Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, she was appointed Minister of Transport by late President Umaru Yar’adua. In December 2008, she was redeployed to the mines and steel development ministry.
After former Vice President Goodluck Jonathan became acting president, Mrs. Alison-Madueke was appointed Nigeria’s first female petroleum minister in February 2010, a position she held till May 29, 2015 when Mr. Jonathan left office.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s tenure as petroleum minister turned out one of Nigeria’s most controversial, amid unending allegations of corruption.
Under her watch, dubious oil marketers stole trillions of naira of oil subsidy money. She retained her position after the House of Representative investigated the scandal and indicted the minister.
Probes by independent audit firms, including the KPMG and Pricewaterahousecoopers, confirmed billions of dollars of oil money were missing, the most notable being $20 billion in 2014.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke also supervised an awfully corrupt NNPC, which several shady deals had been exposed by PREMIUM TIMES several investigations and confirmed by government and independent auditors.
Long before her stint in the oil and gas sector, Mrs. Alison-Madueke was investigated by the Nigerian Senate on allegation she paid N30.9 billion to contractors while she held office as transportation minister.
In 2009, the Senate also indicted Mrs. Alison-Madueke and recommended her for prosecution for allegedly transferring N1.2 billion into a private account of a toll company without due process.
Regardless of the mounting criticisms against her stewardship, Mrs. Alison-Maduke got elected in November 2014 as the first female president of oil cartel the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The former minister consistently denied any wrongdoing.
In June, after leaving office, she rejected all allegations of embezzlement, saying she never stole from Nigeria.