The possession of a Dominican Republic diplomatic passport is what may be shielding Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former minister of Petroleum Resources, from possible extradition to Nigeria and prosecution, a report has revealed.
The former minister left the country for London, the British capital, after former president Goodluck Jonathan handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) unable to obtain her extradition for cases instituted against her in court.
Diezani’s continuous stay in London despite EFCC’s extradition attempts may be partly due to the diplomatic passport issued to her by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominican Republic, Qatar-based broadcaster, Al Jazeera, reports.
Read Also: Extradite Diezani By 2020 Or Have Money Laundering Case Quashed, Judge Tells EFCC
According to the broadcaster in a documentary entitled: ‘Diplomats for Sale’, Diezani was appointed Commissioner for Trade and Investment by Skerrit towards the end of the Jonathan administration.
The report also stated that Diezani approached Skerrit directly to issue her a passport in order to possibly shield her from investigation from the then-incoming Buhari administration.
The report revealed that the former minister’s action is the modus operandi of politically exposed persons, including leaders of international drug cartels, who, it said, purchase diplomatic passports from Caribbean countries for a fee which ranges between $250,000 and $2 million, depending on the personality involved.
It stated that upon payment, the leader of that country then appoints the buyer as an ambassador or a diplomat and is subsequently issued with a diplomatic passport, which gives him or her immunity from prosecution based on the Vienna Convention of 1961.
“In London, she (Diezani) is personally handed a Dominican diplomatic passport by Prime Minister Skerrit; a passport which could shield her from criminal charges. We found documents showing a few days later that a shell company is formed in Delaware, an American state where laws mean the true owners of a company are kept secret.
“Four months later, that shell company buys a New York apartment for $2.2m with no mortgage. Property records confirm that the prime minister’s wife, Melissa, was a resident. Photos placed the Skerrit family there. Both Diezani and Skerrit deny any links to the company that bought the apartment.
“Skerrit said the family resided there due to a kind gesture by an unnamed friend of his wife. He strongly denies any wrongdoing and says he didn’t demand or receive any money from Madueke,” the report said.
Read Also: EFCC Denies Dropping Corruption Charges Against Diezani, Others
Reports recently emerged that the EFCC had reportedly dropped one of its cases, a 14-count money laundering case, against Diezani, but the anti-graft agency has since debunked it as “false and misleading”.
The commission has, however, in recent times decried the slow process in its extradition attempt of the former minister. Faruk Abdullah, the EFCC prosecuting counsel, pleaded with Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, the presiding judge, in another case of money laundering at the Federal High Court, Abuja, to postpone the case indefinitely pending when the accused is repatriated back to the country.
But Justice Ojukwu gave the EFCC a deadline of March 2020 to produce Diezani in court to make her defence over allegations of money laundering levelled against her or risk getting the suit dismissed