EFCC Uncovers Diezani’s Hidden Estate in Bayelsa

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has uncovered a sprawling estate in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State believed to be owned by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
 Msrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke

The discovery of the estate was made by operatives of the anti-graft agency following investigations of public funds allegedly stolen by the former minister.

The investigators conducted a search on some of the houses on the estate.

It was gathered that the EFCC team, acting on intelligence, uncovered the sprawling estate which is coded as BGIS/OK/02/16/310.

It is located on Diepreye Alamieyeseigha Street, off Goodluck Jonathan Road in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

A source familiar with the investigation said: “Following our obtaining a court order to recover some assets belonging to Diezani, we were able to gather intelligence which led to the location of the hidden estate in question in Bayelsa State.

“Our operatives also conducted searches in some houses on the estate based on tip off on the ex-minister.

“We will follow due process in invoking the relevant laws on asset forfeiture on all the mansions in the estate.”

On the $153million allegedly withdrawn by the ex-minister from the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in December 2014, it was gathered that the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has already left Nigeria for London in connection with the investigation of the ex-minister and some upscale properties traced to her at home and abroad.

“We are getting closer to the biggest fraud trial in the UK. The Acting EFCC chairman has left Abuja for London to compare notes with his colleagues.

“The EFCC is collaborating with prosecutors in the United Kingdom by providing incontrovertible evidence against the ex-minister.

“Some of the UK investigators visited Nigeria in 2016. A few of our crack detectives have been in and out of the UK too.

“Magu’s trip is part of the crystallization and consolidation of evidence against Diezani.”

Also, about five bank chiefs who helped in moving the funds from NNPC are likely to face prosecution.

“Although we are presently preoccupied with the recovery of looted public funds by the ex-minister, we cannot rule out the prosecution of some people at the end of the day,” a source said.

“Some bank chiefs, maybe about five, may face trial but we are not making this a priority now. We want to retrieve every dollar stolen from NNPC accounts.

“Some of these bank chiefs are pleading that we should allow them to refund the funds credited to them without prosecution. But the weight of evidence will determine our position at the end of the day.

“The truth is that many bank chiefs were engaged by the ex-minister to perpetrate fraud.

“So far, all the banks implicated are cooperating with the EFCC. We hope that in two weeks’ time, the $153million would have been forfeited to the Federal Government.

Four banks have been fingered in how Diezani laundered $153,310,000.

The EFCC told a Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday that the huge cash was wired from NNPC accounts to Fidelity Bank before it was given to Sterling Bank, Access Bank Plc, First Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc for safe keeping.

EFCC said the banks “aided and abetted the massive fraud perpetrated by the minister.”

Access Bank is holding $5million out of the total sum.

The breakdown of how the loot was hidden is as follows: Access Bank ($5million); Sterling Bank (N23, 446, 300,000); and First Bank (N9,080,000,000).

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