Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison Madueke has finally broken her long silence on the several allegations of financial impropriety levelled against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
In a statement issued on Monday, the embattled former minister said she never stole Nigeria’s money, adding that the anti-graft agency was taking advantage of her silence to try and convict her in the media hence her response.
Recall that the EFCC had alleged that Diezani, a former minister of Petroleum Resources, by an order of a Federal High Court has forfeited $153.3 million to the Federal Government.
However, she said “I wish to state I cannot forfeit what was never mine.
She wrote: “I am deeply disturbed and bewildered by recent media reports claiming that by virtue of an order of the federal high court, I have forfeited to the federal government the sum of $153.3m, which I purportedly stole from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“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. As of the time of my writing this rebuttal, the EFCC has still not furnished me or my lawyers with a copy of the order.
“I am also informed by my lawyers that the legislation under which the EFCC obtained this order is for situations where the funds are believed to be the proceeds of crime and the owner is not known. 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?”
On the Malabu oil deal, Diezani said at the time she was a minister, the matter was not under the direct purview of the petroleum ministry but was centred around the law.
She continued: “As minister of petroleum Resources, I did not participate in any activity relating to financial payments on the Malabu matter, other than those statutorily mandated to the minister of petroleum resources by the petroleum act,” she said.
“My role in this matter was a purely statutory one as required by law in the petroleum act 3.”
While dismissing claims that the EFCC found $700 million in her home in Abuja, she said:
“Would the videos of this $700 million cash discovery not have made good viewing? Or should those who recovered this money not tell the public where exactly the money has been kept.”
“Perhaps the central bank should corroborate that it is in custody of these monies allegedly found in my house? But then, it is now patently apparent that Nigerians are no longer easily led to believe fables and sensational untruths.”
The former minister claimed that although she cut the subsidy bill of the country by almost 50 percent and put her life under immediate threat, she was still accused of taking bribes.
“At end December 2011, I directed PPPRA to move for complete deregulation, to rid the oil and gas sector of the speculators, the bloated middlemen and the parasitic influence of God-fatherism,” Diezani said.
“This was in an attempt to create a far less corruptible system as it was quite clear that the intended benefits of the Subsidy system were not reaching the masses but were being hijacked by unscrupulous middlemen cabals.”