Civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the UK authorities to “extradite Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke to face charges of corruption and money laundering.
Coming ahead of the International Anticorruption Summit in the UK, SERAP says the charges she is currently facing in UK court do not sufficiently capture the gravity of her alleged crimes, and the increasing allegations of corruption against her in Nigeria.
The request followed announcement during the week by the Central Bank of Nigeria that it was carrying out special investigations into the roles played by banks in certain financial transactions, especially the 23 billion Naira reportedly shared to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by officials of the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration to influence the outcome of the last general elections.
According the SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, “The anticorruption summit in London provides an important opportunity for the UK government to support the ongoing fight against corruption in Nigeria, and to send a powerful message that the UK will not provide sanctuary or condone impunity for corrupt public officials.”
The statement reads: “As a state party to the UN Convention against Corruption, the UK government can use the convention as a basis for the extradition of Mrs Alison-Madueke back to Nigeria.
“We urge the Nigerian authorities to without delay submit a request to the UK authorities for the extradition of Mrs Alison-Madueke, explicitly making the point that Nigeria will guarantee her a due process-trial.
“If the UK refuses extradition request, Nigeria should consider submitting the matter for arbitration and if this cannot resolve the case, refer it to the International Court of Justice for adjudication. The Nigerian authorities should also consider filing a civil action against Mrs Alison-Madueke in the UK court.
“By sending Mrs Alison-Madueke back to her country, the UK will be sending a message that high-level official corruption will not go unpunished no matter where the suspected perpetrator hides and thus contribute to the fight against impunity for grand corruption. The UK indeed has an obligation to extradite Mrs Alison-Madueke through international cooperation and collaboration in good faith with Nigeria.
“We believe that effective prosecution in Nigeria is feasible, and this will bring justice closer to Nigerians who are direct victims of corruption. Extraditing Mrs Alison-Madueke back to Nigeria is equally important for allowing easier access to witnesses, evidence, victims of corruption; creating a deep connection between Nigerians and the impact of the trial; and empowering victims of corruption.”
“SERAP believes that there is probable cause that Mrs Alison-Madueke participated in the extraditable acts involving some banks in Nigeria, whether directly or indirectly. The allegations of corruption against her are strong enough for Prime Minister David Cameron to facilitate an extradition proceeding.
“The UK shouldn’t be a country of refuge for corrupt officials if it is to avoid a miscarriage of justice in high-level corruption cases. But if Mrs Alison-Madueke is not extradited, the UK will have a responsibility to amend her charges to include the fresh allegations against her and to try her on the merits under the UK laws as if she had committed the crimes there.
“Mr Cameron risks missing an ‘open goal’ unless he shows that the UK is unreservedly committed to seeking justice for victims of corruption, and international cooperation in the fight against corruption by urgently facilitating the extradition of Mrs Alison-Madueke to Nigeria so that she can explain her role in the continuing disclosure of allegations of corruption and money laundering involving several Nigerian banks which allegedly took place during her time in office as petroleum minister.
“SERAP is also concerned that UK banks continue to accept millions of pounds from corrupt Nigerian politicians. Without the complicity of these banks, it would be much harder for corrupt politicians including from Nigeria to loot public funds or accept bribes.
“Therefore, in order to meet the requirements of the UN Convention against Corruption, Mr Cameron will need to do more to reform and crack down on his country’s financial institutions that continue to provide safe havens for corrupt funds from Nigeria with almost absolute impunity.
“It’s also important for Mr Cameron to work towards improving judicial cooperation between Nigeria and the UK if stolen assets stashed in the UK are to be fully repatriated and if he is not to send a message that corrupt suspects can get away with their crimes without consequences.”