How UK Government reject request to repatriate ex-Minister of Petroleum – INTERPOL
The Head of National Central Bureau (NCB) INTERPOL, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Garba Baba Umar, on Thursday disclosed that the Government of United Kingdom (UK) turned down their request to repatriate former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke.
Mr. Umar disclosed this during the investigative hearing held at the instance of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating the illegal sale of Nigeria’s crude oil exports from 2014 till date, as well as the illegal sale of 48 million barrels of Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude in China in 2015 estimated at $2.4 billion, chaired by Hon. Mark Gbillah, said that all processes of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) were followed, but the Government refused.
Earlier, AIG Umar said that his efforts paid off in bringing back the former head of pension funds, Abdulrasheed Maina and the former attorney general of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, to face criminal prosecution.
“The NCB deals with the head of all correspondences regarding requests for assistance come to my table. They write to me EFCC, NIS, and all other agencies asking me to assist them. All I need to do, just like what the Chairman said, is to scrutinize the papers, go through the documents that were brought before me.
“You can’t place somebody on a watchlist or red notice, ordinarily would have done it, but I can’t do that because they have to show me evidences and we have to help from the other person. It’s the normal procedure, Mr. Chairman.
“I am not privy to the investigation and I am also not privy to the action of what the Ministry of Justice or the Court are doing. All I know I receive a request, and in the normal process, Mr. Chairman and honourable members of this Committee, it is my duty, it is my responsibility to check before I act on any duty.
“If you ask INTERPOL the National headquarters, the IGP that are we investing? As I told you, INTERPOL does not investigate, but NCB does because NCB is the local Police. Like I told you, they are like catalysts between the law enforcement agencies and the INTERPOL.
“In respect of assistance Mr Chairman, seeking assistance, just like what happened if you remember, we repatriated many Nigerians who were alleged to have defrauded the Nigerian Government.
“I went personally and brought Maina from Niger. I brought the former Attorney General of the Federation from Dubai and many other Nigerians who absconded; we brought them back to face justice and those in Nigeria hiding, we took them back to their various countries to face justice.”
Responding to Ngaji’s question of not mentioning about bringing Deziani as she was one of the people Nigerian Government arrested and whether DPP could write a letter to you without the consent of the Minister of Justice and who takes the responsibility,
Umar said that the UK government refused to cooperate with Madueke.
“Sir, any letter, if you see the heading of the letter, if you check the letter, it was signed for the Honourable Minister of justice and let me tell you he issue briefly to know.
“The issue of Diezani, a warrant of arrest was issued. I am sorry to say the Government of the UK turned down our request. We followed MLA. You can check that it is mutual legal assistance to bring her back home. According to them, she went to court because they have a system where they check our, let me not go there,” he said.
During the hearing, Hon. Gbillah expressed grave concern over the rationale behind the invitation of whistleblowers (Star Witnesses) for questioning shortly before it commenced its investigation, who was tagged as ‘fugitive’ and declared wanted by the Police.
“That Committee is said to have travelled to China at the instance of a whistleblower of Mexican citizenship about the existence in China of millions of barrels of Nigeria”s crude and this individual expressed an interest to purchase this crude, which the Government at the time allegedly needed to investigate first.
“So, this Committee went to China, confirmed the existence of this crude, but this individual concerned alleges that when the process of selling this crude commenced, they were no longer contacted and they have evidence of the fact that the crude was sold without the money being remitted to the coffers of the Nigerian Government.
When these issues started to occur, they said that they were being intimidated and threatened and had spurious allegations made against them that involved them being charged to court over this matter, and eventually, the matter was discontinued.
And from their point of view, they said allegedly because when they had the revelations of the details of the documents, text exchanges between them started to come to the fore, and the parties involved did not want it to become public knowledge.
“Now fast forward to now because that case was stalled. It may interest you that when these allegations seemingly occurred, the department that was sent in the Police to investigate this was the Force CID, then under the DIG Michael Ogbizi now retired.
“The report is supposed to have been made and forwarded for action by the Attorney General. But it will also be something we would want to understand why now if it is related to that issue, why is the Interpol writing to some of these individuals.
“Of course, the Mexican person left the Country and is back in his Country, and I would be seeing the Mexican Ambassador today because the Committee members would go to Mexico.
“This is how detailed the House of Representatives is. To meet with this individual, we would not want any other country’s citizen to be oppressed the way we would not want a Nigerian in Mexico to be oppressed when they are telling the truth.
“We would also want the documents and facts at his disposal. They said they have recordings, photographs, some of which they have shown the Committee, email correspondences, text messages and a lot of related documents related to this issue. But the Nigerians who are involved are still within the Country.
“Two of them were the ones who approached us willing to give detail of what transpired in this whole situation, but because you were not involved in that initial investigation.
“I want to ask how come you write letters to these individuals after the Committee’s investigation had commenced and after they had indicated a desire to give evidence to this Committee?”
In his response, Mr. Umar, who denied the allegations, argued that the Agency did not investigate anyone.
He said: “This is to inform the Committee that INTERPOL is not investigating a new case. The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation only seeks INTERPOL assistance by using INTERPOL tools to arrest the fugitive who has since flown out of the Country to escape justice.
“It is our kindly advice that all enquiries into this case can be directed to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and competent Court of Law handling the matter.
“It will be prejudicial for the Nigeria Police Force to disclose or go into a pending matter before a competent Court of jurisdiction.
“However, the Nigeria Police Force is ready to assist the National Assembly in their oversight function.
“Attached herewith are copies of the letter from the Attorney general of the Federation, Charge Sheet, Summary of the prosecution’s case against the defendants, Hearing notice and remand warrant from the Federal High Court.
“I have no knowledge. I have no interest. There is a request from a competent ministry asking us to trace these people. And they attached a court warrant. I will never allow anybody to use me. It’s a request. Those who may be able to answer are those who investigated the matter and the attorney general’s office. But I assure you we are not investigating. We are assisting.”
To this end, Hon. Gbillah directed the Clerk to write a letter to the “Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation and the Attorney General of the Federation to furnish this Committee with a detailed report of the investigation of the allegation against these individuals, as it was done by DIG Michael Ogbizi or any other department of the Police.
“I will also want a true certified copy of the letter from the DPP to the Inspector-General of Police to carry out that investigation in the first instance and the reasons why that investigation was carried out.
“I will also want to get the certified true copy of the case filed by the Director of Public Prosecutions against these individuals before any court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria.
“We will not allow anybody with any information for this Committee to be intimidated, coerced, or harassed by the Police.
“These individuals are not in hiding. They have only been contacted after the Committee had commenced its investigation. The person who is in Mexico has business to do in Mexico. There was no flight advisory. We are not abusers of the law. We would expect that you, too, should be interested in ascertaining the fact. We want everybody to be free to provide evidence,” he said.