By G9ija

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said that it has taken more evidence to the United Kingdom against ex-Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, noting that it was set for her trial here in Nigeria and anywhere in the world.

This came as a court in the United Kingdom has set a day in June for the trial of the former minister for money laundering.

EFCC also dismissed speculations that it was negotiating with Diezani Alison-Madueke, saying that “she has consistently maintained that she is ready for trial. So, what is the basis for negotiation when we have a good case?”

An EFCC source said: “The UK investigators have gone far on the allegations against Diezani. From the records made available, the ex-minister and four others will face trial as from June. We have taken more evidence to the UK, including all court records relating to the final forfeiture of $153 million. We have a huge pile of documents.

“There is no basis to negotiate with the ex-minister in view of the overwhelming evidence at our disposal. You should ask yourself what purpose the negotiation will serve.

“The EFCC is set for the trial of the ex-minister at home and abroad. It is curious to be talking of a curious negotiation with someone who has a prima facie case to answer.

“The ex-minister has forfeited $153 million; we have had far-reaching investigations on her involvement in the $115 million poll bribery scandal; we have seized some of her choice properties and she has consistently maintained that she is ready for trial. So, what is the basis for negotiation when we have a good case?”

In 2015 the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom arrested Alison-Madueke and four others for alleged bribery and corruption and money laundering. She was arrested with her brothers, Abiye Agama and Somye Agama.

Some of the property the EFCC claimed to have seized from the former minister include: A block of six units service apartments on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi; six units terrace flats in Yaba, Lagos Mainland; twin four-bedroom duplexes in Lekki Phase I, two duplexes on Banana Island, a duplex in Asokoro District, Abuja; a mini-estate in Mabushi, Abuja; a set of 12 terrace duplexes at Omaremi Street in Port Harcourt; large expanse of land at Oniru, Victoria Island in Lagos; a multi-billion naira estate in Yenagoa; two apartments in Dubai marked as J5 Emirates Hills and E146 Emirates Hills at Dirham, a hotel in Port Harcourt under investigation and $37.5 million mansion on Banana Island in Lagos.

Alison-Madueke disputing the slush funds and assets attributed to her including the $153 million said: “I have up till now chosen to maintain my silence and not to respond to inaccurate press reporting. However, given the level of deliberate inaccuracies, I am now forced to respond because it is clear that the EFCC is taking advantage of my silence to try me by media and to convict me in the eyes of the public on false reports.”

“First and foremost, whilst the reasons for my being out of the country are public knowledge, the principle of fair hearing demands that I should have been notified of formal charges if truly there was a prima facie evidence or indictment against my person linking me with the said issue, so as to ensure that I had adequate legal representation. This was never done.

“I wish to state that I cannot forfeit what was never mine. I do not know the basis on which the EFCC has chosen to say that I am the owner of these funds as no evidence was provided to me before the order was obtained and they have not in fact served me with the order or, any evidence since they obtained it.

“I do not, therefore, understand how the EFCC can in the same breath say that the monies in question are mine. If they had evidence that the monies were mine then they would not /should not, have used the procedure which applies only to funds of unknown ownership. If indeed they used this particular legal procedure because they did not know who owned the monies, then how can they now be falsely attributing the ownership to me.

“Let me re-state categorically as I have always maintained, for the record, I have not and will never steal money from or defraud the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“I am willing to respond to any charges brought against me that follow duly laid down procedures.”

Source independentnig