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Sick but stoic, Diezani Alison-Madueke says ‘I didn’t steal’

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has said she did not use her position to steal Nigeria’s money, a statement she has just made to Dele Momodu, Publisher of Ovation Magazine and The Boss Newspaper.

Pictures released by The Boss show an ailing Diezani, said to be battling with cancer. Online publication Sahara Reporters reported phoning Momodu to demand original copies of the photographs he took of Mrs Alison-Madueke in order to ascertain if she was truly feeling as poorly as the newspaper made her or a photo-shopped publicity stunt to garner public sympathy for her. But Momodu had declined, claiming he was made to sign non-disclosure papers.

Like Serah Ogundele, an observer, said: “I feel for the woman seriously. Even if she doesn’t have cancer, the wahala of public outcry against her is enough to age anyone overnight, let alone having to deal with a debilitating ailment like cancer as severally reported. Just compare her before and after pictures.”

Alison-Madueke was recently arrested by officials of the National Crime Agency, United Kingdom over suspected money laundering activities. The former minister had been alleged to have used her position as minister to steal billions of naira from the country’s coffers.

In June 2008, Alison-Madueke was subject to a Senate probe after it emerged that as Transport Minister she had paid N30.9bn ($263m) to contractors between December 26 and 31, 2007. She is said to be worth over N1bn.

But she has never been officially charged or tried for these allegations and has strongly denied any wrongdoing. She was alleged to have spent billions of dollars inappropriately on private jets and responsible for some missing $20bn.

She is also widely accused of reckless spending of government funds. In October 2009, the Senate indicted her and recommended prosecution for the alleged transfer of N1.2bn into the private account of a toll company without due process and in breach of concession agreement.

Alison-Madueke has never been charged to court and she has constantly maintained innocence.

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