by Ebuka Onyeji
A former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who evaded arrest in Nigeria was recently released from a London prison where he served term for money laundering. Mr. Ibori had escaped to Dubai to avoid being arrested in Nigeria. He was, however extradited to the UK from the UAE, at the request of British authorities.
Like Mr. Ibori, there are other former Nigerian political office holders who have fled the country to avoid arrests and potential prosecutions for corruption.
PREMIUM TIMES reviews some of these persons, most ex-public officials, who served in the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
These include ex-ministers, aides and associates of Mr. Jonathan
They left the country under different pretences, ranging from the need for medical care to pursuit of higher education abroad.
1. DIEZANI ALISON-MADUEKE
Diezani Alison-Madueke held the position of petroleum minister under Mr. Jonathan. She was one of the most powerful public officials in the administration.
A former director at Shell, Mrs. Alison-Madueke was first appointed into the federal cabinet in 2007 as 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, amidst unending allegations of corruption.
Corruption allegations: Under her watch, probes by independent audit firms, including the KPMG, confirmed billions of Naira of oil money was mismanaged. The then Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, alleged in 2014 that the missing money was about $20 billion.
Also, long before her time superintending the oil and gas sector, Mrs. Alison-Madueke was investigated by the Nigerian Senate on allegation she irregularly paid N30.9 billion to contractors as transport 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. The former minister consistently denied any wrongdoing.
She is also enmeshed in various scandals surrounding the sale or lease of Nigeria’s oil blocks. In October last year, she was arrested in London along with others by the UK National Crime Agency. A few hours after her arrest, Nigeria’s EFCC operatives raided her Abuja home, located in the Asokoro district of the federal capital city, and sealed the property, after they reportedly recovered expensive jewelleries and other items from the building.Mrs. Alison-Madueke is believed to be in the United Kingdom where in 2015 she received treatment for cancer.
Accomplices: Two separate intelligence reports identified one Donald Chidi Amamgbo as a key figure in Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s alleged money laundering activities. Another of her close business ally, Jide Omokore, is already being tried for corruption by the EFCC.
Other businessmen like Kola Aluko, Kolawale Akane and Walter Wagbatsoma were also named as close collaborators in the former minister’s suspected web of illicit financial activities. The former minister’s mother, Beatrice Agama; her son, Ugonna Madueke; and a Swiss, Melanie Spencer, were also among people she was arrested with in the UK.
1. MOHAMMED BELLO ADOKE
Mohammed Adoke is Nigeria’s immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he was appointed into the office on April 6, 2010, when the then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan announced a new cabinet.
As the chief law officer of the country, he wielded enormous powers,especially because he had supervisory control over prominent law enforcement agencies such as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Mr. Adoke was one of the first set of top officials in the Jonathan administration to flee the country a few days after President Muhammadu Buhari took over on May 29, 2015.
Supposed hideout: Mr. Adoke has stated that he left Nigeria for the Netherlands to pursue a law programme at the prestigious Leiden University.
Corruption Charges: Mr. Adoke has been fingered in at least three major multi-billion dollar deals. They include the $1.1 billion Malabu oil payment deal; $2.1 billion arms fund diversion and recently, the alleged diversion of $1.6 billion local government judgment fund.
The EFCC filed charges of money laundering and fraud against Mr. Adoke and others on December 20 at the Federal High Court, Abuja, in respect of the Malabu oil deal at the centre of which is Dan Etete, a former minister of petroleum under the late Sani Abacha. Mr. Adoke, however, responded to the charges by pledging to make himself available for trial.
Alleged accomplices: Former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and former petroleum minister, Dan Etete.
1. KINGSLEY KUKU
Kingsley Kuku was Special Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs. He was also the Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. He was one of those who left the country soon after President Buhari took over.
Mr. Kuku is suspected to be in the U.S. He has, however, insisted that he only travelled to on medical grounds.
The EFCC in July 2015 summoned Mr. Kuku for questioning over alleged embezzlement and fraudulent diversion of funds running into hundreds of millions of Naira in the Amnesty Office. Mr. Kuku was asked to appear before the EFCC on July 28, 2015 but requested to be allowed to honour the invitation on September 30, 2015. A letter by Mr. Kuku’s lawyers to the EFCC said the former presidential aide was undergoing surgery on one of his knees. He has, however, continued to seek protection from the courts and has since been at large.
In his defence, Mr. Kuku alleged that investigation by the anti-graft agency into the amnesty funds was a calculated attempt to smear his name. Speaking through his media aide, Yemi Akintomide, in Akure, Mr. Kuku said the EFCC was too much in a hurry to nail him on corruption charges through media trial, even when he had not appeared before the agency’s investigators.
Alleged accomplices: Henry Ugbolue and Lawrence Pepple, both former aides to Mr. Kuku.
1. GOVERNMENT EKPEMUPOLO (Tompolo)
Government Ekpemupolo is a former militant commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND. For years, Tompolo joined forces with various guerrilla groups in the Niger Delta agitating against the alleged exploitation and degradation of the oil-rich region by the Federal Government and international oil companies.
He, however, embraced the amnesty programme on October 4, 2009, to allow for peace, and for the government and the oil companies to carry out development projects in the region. Though not a public office holder under the Jonathan administration, he wielded enormous powers and influence as one of the power brokers in that administration.
Corruption Charges: According to the EFCC which has since declared him wanted, the 47-year-old Tompolo is wanted in a case of conspiracy and illegal diversion of the sum of N34, 000,000,000 (Thirty Four Billion Naira) belonging to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.
The former DG of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was said to have been nominated for the office by Tompolo, is already being prosecuted for his alleged role in the scam.
Tompolo has denied involvement in the N34 billion fraud. The denial was contained in one of his many recent open letters to President Buhari from his hideout.
“The truth of the matter is that I do not know anything about the 34 billion naira EFCC is talking about. First, it was 13-billion naira (N13bn) issue, now it is 34 billion naira (N34bn). I am not a signatory to any of the companies mentioned in the said N34bn case, so I do not know where this one is coming from”, he said in one of the letters.
Alleged Accomplices: Mr. Akpobolokemi and his six brothers.
They are Igo Akpobolokemi, Julius Akpobolokemi, Victor Akpobolokemi, Norbert
Akpobolokemi, Emmanuel Akpobolokemi and Clement Akpobolokemi. Companies listed in the charge by the EFCC are Mieka Dive Training Institute Ltd/GTE, Oyeinteke Global Network Ltd, Wabod Global Resources Ltd, Boloboere Properties Estate Ltd, Gokaid Marine Oil and Gas Ltd and Watershed Associated Resources.
They were however declared as being “now at large” when the charges were read.
1. ABDULRASHEED ABDULLAHI MAINA
Abdulrasheed Maina, a former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, was a close ally of Mr. Jonathan. He is wanted by the EFCC for offences bordering on procurement fraud and obtaining by false pretence.
The EFCC on November 18, 2015 wrote the Inspector-General of Police for assistance to get the INTERPOL to issue a world-wide alert on Mr. Maina. In response, the Commissioner of Police in charge of INTERPOL, Olusola Subair, stated that the INTERPOL had placed a red alert on the fugitive at its general secretariat in Lyon, France. Meanwhile, the EFCC is of the view that Mr. Maina might be hiding at the United Arab Emirates.
According to information on the EFCC website, Mr. Maina is allegedly complicit in the over N2 billion Pensions Biometric scam in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. He remains at large, after charges were filed against his alleged accomplices, including a former Head of Service of the Federation, Steve Orosanye.
Speaking from hiding through his lawyer, Olajide Olaoye, Mr. Maina disputed the fact that he is wanted by the EFCC for any crime. However, as at press time, his picture and details are still on EFCC website as one of its wanted suspects.
Alleged Accomplices: Steve Orosanye, former Head of Civil Service; Osarenkhoe Afe; Federick Hamilton Global Services Limited, Cluster Logistic Limited; Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Limited; and Drew Investment& Construction Company Limited.
1. BELLO FADILE
Bello Fadile is a retired colonel of the Nigerian Army. He was a close confidant of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and a Director of Special Duties in the office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA under Mr. Dasuki.
Mr. Fadile is being investigated for his alleged role in the $2.1 billion arms scandal for which various persons close to Mr. Jonathan and the PDP have either been arrested or are being prosecuted.
Messrs. Dasuki and Fadile were placed under house arrest by the State Security Service, DSS, in July 2015 after which Mr. Dasuki was arrested and still remains in the custody of the SSS despite several court orders.
Mr. Fadile’s whereabouts is unknown but he is said to be currently in the U.S.
Alleged accomplice: Former NSA boss, Sambo Dasuki.
Two legal practitioners spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on how the suspects can be treated by the Nigerian government.
“There is nothing wrong with our legal system which comprises various institutions and laws to effectively fight corruption, especially economic crimes.,” a lawyer, Akunne Nzube, said.
“But these laws are not effectively interpreted and implemented by the requisite institutions, including the judiciary. This deficiency is apparent in the James Ibori’s trial here in Nigeria, which ended in an acquittal and his subsequent conviction in the UK.
“The renewed enthusiasm of this present administration to restore these institutions to combat graft effectively is being hampered by the difficulties in getting the suspects extradited to face trial.”
The activist said although he sees “nothing wrong with our anti-graft laws and institutions, save for issue of inefficiency.
“But in the circumstance, I’m constrained to make the following suggestions to aid this present administration in the fight against corruption: The Legal authorities should consider alternatives like using immigration laws in foreign countries to have fugitives deported as illegal immigrant.
“They can also try whether civil legal action could be taken to sue former officials hiding overseas. Nigeria must either reform the existing institutions (including the agencies and the courts) fighting corruption for efficient and effective results or establish an emergency expeditious corruption trial bill and laws and special anti-graft courts.”
Another lawyer, Frank Obi, expressed a contrary view saying the suspects remained innocent until declared guilty by a court.
“An accused person should be presumed innocent until otherwise declared by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“The duty of the prosecutor is to prosecute and not to persecute. I suggest the judiciary be allowed to perform its role quietly without undue interference,” he said.