President Muhammadu Buhari’s frantic efforts to arrest and prosecute a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke,  has been attributed to her alledged complicity in an international oil bunkering syndicate.

The ex-minister is believed to have allegedly made fortunes from freighting stolen crude oil out of Nigeria. The former minister is also being hunted because of the huge sums of money she allegedly laundered through some commercial banks for the purpose of rigging the 2015 elections in selected states of the country. Alison-Madueke fled the country shortly after the 2015 general elections and the advent of a new government. She was reportedly down with cancer and was hospitalised in an undisclosed hospital in London. In spite of her health status, there were strong indications that the Federal Government contemplated extraditing her to Nigeria to face corruption charges.

The position of the Buhari regime on the former minister was made manifest in the newly-launched biography of the president titled: Muhammadu Buhari – The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria. Author of the book, Prof. John Paden, alleged that the former petroleum minister and her associates were at the heart of oil bunkering scandal during her tenure. The book recalled that the Buhari administration faced a major challenge in its early days as it grappled with the options on how to track stolen oil.

According to the book, ships with bunkered oil often had forged documents purportedly issued by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the origin of the products cannot be traced because Nigerian oil cannot be fingerprinted with precision. Most of the stolen oil, the book said, ended up in China, a situation that made Buhari visited China to explore ways for the two countries to tackle the issue.

“The shipping of stolen oil to China with the connivance of Chinese criminal networks was a subject President Buhari discussed with Chinese President, Xi Jinping, who promised to cooperate. “China was in the process of cracking down on corruption and began to investigate the Nigeria oil scandals. At the heart of the oil bunkering scandals was the former minister of petroleum resources and her associates.

“While Alison-Madueke was being treated for breast cancer in London, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested her key  associate, Donald Chidi Amamgbo, over allegations of financial crimes. He had received permission from the minister to pump billions of dollars of Nigeria’s oil despite lacking the requisite experience. “In addition, the former minister had approved billions of crude oil swaps (exchange of crude oil for other goods) without a contract, according to a former Group Managing Director of NNPC, Austin Oniwon.”

The book, which was launched recently in Abuja, also chronicled other allegations of corruption levelled against Alison-Madueke.

These included allegations that she paid huge sums of money into some commercial banks, which were later channelled to some members of the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the states ahead of the 2015 elections. According to Paden, these funds were apparently meant to bribe electoral officers to rig the polls in favour of erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan

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