Towards the end of former President Goodluck Jonathan’ s administration , former Minister of Petroleum Resources , Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke , was appointed Commissioner for Trade and Investment by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of the Commonwealth of Dominica and was handed a diplomatic passport .
This , perhaps , is why Diezani has been able to evade prosecution despite being in London for over four years.
According to Qatar – based network, Al Jazeera , the former minister may have purchased a $ 2 . 2 m choice property near the United Nations in upscale Manhattan , New York , for the Dominican Prime Minister in order to obtain the passport .
In a documentary titled , ‘ Diplomats for sale ’ , Al Jazeera reveals how politically exposed persons, including leaders of international drug cartels, purchase diplomatic passports from Caribbean countries for a fee which ranges between $ 250 , 000 and $ 2 m depending on the personality involved .
The bribe is usually paid to the leader of that country who then appoints the buyer as an ambassador or a diplomat. The buyer is subsequently issued with a diplomatic passport which gives him or her immunity from prosecution based on the Vienna Convention of 1961 .
According to the news agency , shortly before Diezani left office , there were already reports that she had allegedly stolen billions of dollars.
Worried that the incoming President Muhammadu Buhari ’ s administration might probe her , the former minister allegedly fled to London and obtained a diplomatic passport from the Prime Minister of Dominican Republic himself.
The report stated, “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 . 2 m 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 53- minute documentary also shows how countries like St . Lucia, Antigua and Grenada all in the Caribbean carry out such “diplomatic passport for cash” scam .
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had in March lamented the slow pace at which the United Kingdom was handling Diezani ’ s case .
The EFCC in a statement said it was baffling that after four years, Diezani had still not had her day in court.
The statement read in part, “ We are intent on bringing Diezani to justice and despite the spirited efforts of the commission in ensuring that she returns to Nigeria and face trial , she has been held back in the UK by an investigation that has spanned almost four years without any signal about when she will be available in Nigeria for prosecution.
“ The EFCC has been frustrated over Diezani , a development that prompted it to seek her extradition to Nigeria , so that she can have her day in court. ”
The former minister is alleged to have diverted billions of dollars and purchased choice properties in several parts of the world .
Diezani ’ s cash and properties as well as those linked to her , worth over $ 250 m , including jewellery, have been forfeited permanently to the Federal Government by an order of court.
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