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Nigeria’s immediate past minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, on Monday denied reports that she accumulated wealth by stealing from the public treasury.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke made the denial while reacting to a story by television channel Al Jazeera, that she procured her Abuja mansion allegedly valued at $18million and jewelleries worth $2m from monies she stole while in office.
The former minister, who is receiving treatment in London for cancer, is being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for multi-billion dollar fraud. The mansion and jewelleries have since been confiscated by the anti-graft commission.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke is also being investigated by UK authorities for suspected money laundering.
On Monday, the Nigerian government commenced the legal process for a worldwide seizure of the assets of two of her allies, Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko, running into several billions of dollars.
In a statement published by the Vanguard newspaper, the ex-minister accused the Qatar-based media organisation and the EFCC of unprofessionalism.
She alleged that the story was meant to tarnish her reputation and amounted to giving “a dog a bad name in order to hang it.”
“My attention has been drawn to a report by Al Jazeera, which was released on Monday as a testament to the effectiveness of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in its war against corruption,” she wrote.
“In the video report, which has been widely circulated in the social media, there are claims about me owning a property in Abuja allegedly worth $18 million. The report, which represents everything ridiculous and despicable about professional media practice and global best practices in the war against corruption, is the latest attempt to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.”
She wondered why she was being painted as a “common criminal” in the media despite not being convicted her for any crime.
She added that the display of the jewelleries was made to feed on the notion that all wealthy Nigerians are corrupt.
She said the media now has been feeding on her characteristic silence over such allegations in the past to continue in what she described as a propaganda to discredit her.
“This will not be the first time calculated attempts have been made to demonise and damage my reputation in the public space. Many times, my detractors have gotten away with these irresponsible smear campaigns because they have become accustomed to my characteristic approach of silence in the face of these callous attacks.
“The latest in the string of propaganda attacks launched against my person since I left government as Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister is this Al Jazeera report, which without any court conviction anywhere in the world attempts to dress Diezani Alison Madueke in the garb of a common criminal.
“This, to say the least, is the height of journalistic brigandage and a sheer mockery of Nigeria’s anti-corruption war before the eyes of the world who are watching and asking if the war against corruption is a circus show where suspects are prosecuted and sentenced on the pages of newspapers and video blogs without anything as remotely in the semblance of a trial in the courts of law,” the former minister said.
She wondered when owning properties and jewelleries became a crime in the country.
Reeling out a list of her academic qualifications and professional career, she said she worked hard over the years to lead an affluent life.
“When did it become a crime to own a property in Nigeria? When did it become a crime for a woman of my status to have in her possession, jewelry? Jewelry, which women all across the world, including the woman selling tomatoes in Bodija market have in abundance in their closets? In which court of law, anywhere in the world was I prosecuted by the EFCC and found guilty of corruption?
“With all sense of modesty, I say this only for posterity and for the records. I have strived within my means and the blessings of God to live a decent and accomplished life. I studied architecture in England and obtained a bachelor’s degree from Howard University, United States of America in 1992. When I returned to Nigeria that same year, I joined Shell Petroleum Development Corporation.
“In 2002, I obtained an MBA at Cambridge University, United Kingdom. In April 2006, I was appointed by Shell as the company’s first female Executive Director in Nigeria. In July 2007, I was appointed by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as Minister of Transport.
“The next year in December 2008 I became Minister of Mines and Steel Development. In April 2010, I was appointed as Minister for Petroleum Resources and served in that capacity till May 2015. During this period as Petroleum Minister, I had the honour of serving Nigeria and representing her in the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) where I was elected first female President.”
Describing the reports as “cold-hearted” and inhuman, she said they were most disturbing as they were coming at a time she was battling cancer.
“Coming at such a critical time in my life when I am battling cancer, this poorly executed propaganda bares on its face like tribal marks, a clearly malicious attempt to victimize an innocent woman in what appears an exaggerated plot to validate and give credibility to the anti-corruption crusade under Nigeria’s new regime. People who are battling cancer or those who have lost their loved ones to this medical condition understand what I am going through at this time.
“This is what makes me ponder at the cold-heartedness of those who will go any length to defame and destroy in the name of propaganda. What happened to our shared humanity?,” asked Diezani.”
Finally, she said the rule of law has not adhered to in accusing her of fraud adding that her “detractors” are aware that she had been “maliciously and “wrongfully” maligned.
“I have absolute regard for the law and believe that people who have breached the laws that govern societies should be made to face the wrath of the law. But in a civilized society, a responsible government owes its citizens absolute commitment to the principles of rule of law, equity, fairness and justice. I have been wrongfully and maliciously maligned and those behind this reckless action know it.
“I leave them to posterity, their conscience and above all the Almighty God who is the final judge of all,” the former minister concluded.
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