On October 2nd and 3rd, more than one news agency reported the “arrest” of former Nigerian oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke in London by the UK National Crime Agency’s recently formed International Corruption Unit. The NCA did not name suspects however it did confirm that it had arrested five people in connection with fraud and bribery offences. Mrs. Alison-Madueke served under former President Goodluck Jonathan. During her tenure in office it was alleged by Nigeria’s former Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues had not been transferred to state coffers by the government-run oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation between January 2012 and July 2013. Previously, Mrs Alison-Madueke has denied any wrongdoings when questioned about missing funds and grants. Her arrest comes right after newly elected Nigerian President Buhari declared that prosecution of those suspected of misappropriating the NNPC’s revenue under past administrations would begin soon.
President Buhari’s main concern has been to end corruption in the country’s government. Personally, we met his declarations with a degree of skepticism. We were not doubting his sincerity, intentions or abilities but rather we had grown accustomed to the complex and seemingly impenetrable web that was African corruption. We could not see how he was going to manage to break through these complex systems to enact real change. Also, at this point we were more than accustomed to African leaders who made promises, got elected and never seemed to be able to deliver on what they had promised. So imagine our surprise when news of the former Minister’s arrest broke. It seemed that the tides were actually turning in this oil-rich country’s dealings. Although the arrests were not made in Nigeria, it was reported by Reuters that the sealing of one of the former minister’s houses in the upmarket Asokoro district in Abuja indicated a coordination with Nigerian authorities.
This former Nigerian minister is most definitely not the first African leader to be prosecuted for corruption and bribery suspicions however what marks this instance as different is that it follows assurances by an African leader to take people who have wronged their country to task. Does this mark the beginning of the end of international intervention when it comes to taking wrongdoers to task? Another example of this is Senegal’s decision to try the former president of Chad, Hissène Habré in Dakar. The New York Times reported that “If a trial does go ahead in Senegal, it will be the first time the president of one country is tried before in another country’s court on charges of crimes committed at home, officials said. Other heads of state who have been prosecuted have appeared before international courts or tribunals”. News like this gives us hope that Africans might finally be taking a step towards seizing control of corruption and starting to take on the responsibility of taking to task suspected corrupt officials and even going a step further as to actually prosecute them on our own land.
by: Naa Adukwei Quarcoopome & Paul Isaac Kwofie