It’s not a crime to own property, jewellery – Diezani tells EFCC

A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has taken a swipe at a report aired on Al-Jazeera, which she said portrayed her as a corrupt person.

The former minister, while describing the report as “ridiculous and despicable”, alleged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was carrying out a “campaign of calumny” against her, ostensibly to demonstrate the effectiveness of the current administration’s anti-corruption fight.

In the report, which video is circulating in the social media space, Alison- Madueke was alleged to own a mansion in the Asokoro District of Abuja estimated to have cost about $18 million.

It was also alleged that jewelleries worth over $2 million were allegedly recovered from the house; the jewelleries were said to have been displayed in the video.

But, in a statement, the ex-minister regretted that she was being labelled a corrupt person, notwithstanding the fact that no court has tried and convicted her of any offence.

The former minister said there was no crime in owning property and jewellery.

“When did it become a crime to own a property in Nigeria? When did it become a crime for a woman of my status to have in her possession, jewellery women all across the world, including the woman selling tomatoes in Bodija market has in abundance in her closet?

“In which court of law, anywhere in the world was I prosecuted by the EFCC and found guilty of corruption?

“With all sense of modesty, I have strived within my means and the blessings of God to live a decent and accomplished life.

“All through my career, I have strived to maintain a record of hard work, integrity and excellence, giving my best to society, because my parents raised me in the consciousness that a man or woman’s greatness is defined not by the amount of wealth they have acquired, but the impact of their service to God and humanity.”

The former minister said she was pained by the damage to her reputation given her health challenges.

“Coming at such a critical time in my life when I am battling cancer, this poorly executed propaganda bares on its face like tribal marks, a clearly malicious attempt to victimise an innocent woman in what appears an exaggerated plot to validate and give credibility to the anticorruption crusade under Nigeria’s new regime.

“People who are battling cancer or those who have lost their loved ones to this medical condition understand what I am going through at this time.

“This is what makes me ponder at the cold-heartedness of those who will go any length to defame and destroy in the name of propaganda. What happened to our shared humanity?

“I have absolute regard for the law and believe that people who have breached the laws that govern societies should be made to face the wrath of the law.

“But in a civilized society, a responsible government owes its citizens absolute commitment to the principles of rule of law, equity, fairness and justice. I have been wrongfully and maliciously maligned and those behind this reckless action know it,” she said.

She said the depiction in the report is suggestive that every wealthy person in Nigeria may have corruptly enriched themselves.

Her words: “In the video report, which has been widely circulated in the social media, there are claims about me owning a property in Abuja allegedly worth $18 million.

“The report, which represents everything ridiculous and despicable about professional media practice and global best practices in the war against corruption, is the latest attempt to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

“Clips of jewellery allegedly worth over $2 million were also copiously displayed as if to feed the cravings of an audience gratified with the notion that every wealthy Nigeria is corrupt.

“This will not be the first time calculated attempts have been made to demonise and damage my reputation in the public space.

“Many times, my detractors have gotten away with these irresponsible smear campaigns because they have become used to my characteristic approach of silence in the face of these callous attacks. “The latest in the string of propaganda attacks launched against my person since I left government as Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister is this Al Jazeera report, which without any court conviction anywhere in world attempts to dress Diezani Alison-Madueke in the garb of a common criminal.

“This, to say the least, is the height of journalistic brigandage and a sheer mockery of Nigeria’s anti-corruption war before the eyes of the world who are watching and asking if the war against corruption is a circus show where suspects are prosecuted and sentenced on the pages of newspapers and video blogs without anything as remotely in the semblance of a trial in the courts of law?”

Waxing philosophical, Deziani said she would leave her traducers “to posterity, their conscience and above all the Almighty God who is the final judge of all.”