The Federal Government will file fresh charges against former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, strong indications have suggested, the charges are bordering on alleged money laundering, illicit oil deals and other transactions connected to Process and Industrial Development (P&ID).
A top official of the Federal Ministry of Justice told reporters that the move is promoted by the fresh evidence obtained by investigators after a New York judge, Lorna Schofield, granted Nigeria’s request to subpoena 10 banks in the US regarding access to account statements of some Nigeria’s former top public office holders.
The banks involved are “Citibank, N.A. (Citibank), Allied Irish Banks (Allied Irish), HSBC Bank USA (HSBC), Standard New York, Inc. (Standard New York), Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas (Deutsche Bank), J.P. Morgan Chase (JPMorgan), United Bank for Africa (UBA), Bank of Cyprus, Fortis Private Banking Singapore Limited (Fortis), and Standard Chartered International (USA) Ltd. (Standard Chartered).”
The Nigerian government said the 10 banks are “likely to have processed US dollar transactions connected to P&ID’s operations as either correspondent banks or the New York branches of foreign lenders.”
In a related development, a competent source at the EFCC has disclosed that the Commission will soon amend the 14-count charge it filed against Diezani before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
The commission had, in November 2018, filed 13-counts of money laundering against the ex-minister, accusing her of unlawfully taking into her possession the sums of $39.7m and N3.32bn with which she allegedly bought choice properties in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt in Rivers, while she was in office.
According to the source, “the need to amend the charge arose from fresh evidence by our team of investigators into the matter.”
The source hinted that the amended charge might feature some associates of the former minister who have links with some of the allegations.
Some of the minister’s ally, according to the source, may include her cousin, Kaysle Agama, a businessman and a former contractor with the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Programme.
Agama was alleged to be a torn in the flesh of stakeholders and leaders of the Niger Delta region, who accused him of appearing in several viral videos making allegations of corruption and smear campaign against the National Security Adviser, Gen. Babagana Moguno, and Prof. Charles Dokubu, a former coordinator of the Programme.
Recently, the regional leaders under the auspices of Coalition of Niger Delta Cohesion (CNDC) have called for the arrest and prosecution of Agama and one Dennis Sammi for similar acts allegedly orchestrated through the social media against the NSA and other members of the caretaker committee set to manage the programme by the federal government.
A UK court had in September 2019, awarded $9.6 billion against Nigeria in favour of Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID).
However, in a bid to overturn the $9.6 billion arbitration award, the Federal Government filed an application before the US court seeking permission to subpoena information on transactions involving top government officials, including former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience; former ministers of petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke and Rilwanu Lukman.
According to the AGF “there is good reason to believe that ministers at the highest level were involved in a corrupt scheme to steal money from Nigeria.”
Malami said P&ID had no ability or intention of ever performing the contract, which required the company to build a gas processing plant and the government to supply gas.
He said P&ID paid kickbacks to government officials so that they could overlook the company’s lack of technical capabilities in executing the contract, which was never started.
Speaking with our reporter, the official noted: “ There is likelihood of filing fresh charges against the former petroleum minister in view of fresh evidence obtained by our investigators.
“You know that the Federal Government had begun processing legal papers to expedite the extradition of former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to face trial in Nigeria over alleged money laundering and illicit oil deals.
“We have filed an application to kick-start the repatriation of the former minister so that she can formally be arraigned in line with the order of a Federal High court.
“The true position is that the extradition processes were initiated since last year and there is need to begin the arraignment of the suspect. But we also need to formally file the request with the United Kingdom so that she can be released.
“There is no way the prosecution agency of government can make progress without the accused person being produced in court.
“I can confirm that we have both the request by the EFCC and the FHC order to produce the woman and we are currently processing what we need to table before the UK.”