The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said it is not responsible for matters of extradition, amid calls for the extradition of a former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, to face charges of corruption.
Spokesperson to the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwajaren, said this on Thursday night in a telephone interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
Mr Uwajaren was responding to the plan by the Charly Boy-led Concerned Nigerians Group to hold a sit-out at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja to demand the extradition of Mrs Alison-Madueke, who has been accused of corruption.
“It is interesting that a section of the populace is outraged by the massive looting that Nigeria witnessed in the last few years as is evident in the Diezani investigation that the commission is still on. What I can say is that the commission is determined, more than ever before, to recover every dime that has been stolen by people that found themselves in the corridors of power,” Mr Uwajaren said when asked about the extradition calls.
“But answering your question directly regarding the extradition of Diezani, I think the better agency to talk to is not the EFCC. The EFCC, contrary to the views of some people, is not the agency responsible for extradition. Matters of extradition are handled by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice who is the right person to talk about the extradition of any Nigerian from any party of the world.”
The EFCC has linked properties and cash running into billions of naira, which it says are the proceeds of corruption, to the former minister.
Based on its investigation, the commission has secured the forfeiture of some of the properties in court; earlier this month, a property on Banana Island worth $37m – linked to the minister – was forfeited.
More recently, on Tuesday, the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered an interim forfeiture of assets worth N2.6bn that were also linked to the former minister.
News of the latest forfeiture involved more than 50 houses in Lagos, Port Harcourt and the nation’s capital Abuja outraged many, including the Concerned Nigerians Group, which recently protested the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari, demanding he should resume or resign.
Although the many properties have been linked to the former minister, she is only a defendant in one of the cases.
“We only have a charge in court in which Diezani was listed as one of the defendants and in that charge, we listed that she is still at large – which means that we were not able to bring her into the country to face trial,” Mr Uwajaren said.
As part of its investigation, the EFCC invited the former minister for questioning, but there has been no response from her.
“We are still waiting for her to respond because we have invited her for questioning and she has not responded to the invitation. We are aware that she is living abroad and I also know that in the UK where she is presently based, she was taken to court some time ago and then released on bail,” Mr Uwajaren said.
Concerning the reported claim by the former minister that the allegations against her are false, the EFCC believes the court is the best place for her to defend herself.
“We have done our investigation. The commission has been very diligent in treating some of these aspects and we believe that we have a case. If the accused person in the matter believes otherwise, the courts are there for you to take opportunities that are available to defend yourself,” the EFCC spokesman said.