Thursday, 8 October 2015

NNNPC... Diezani’s ally, Kola Aluko, faces extradition to UK •Switzerland gets Britain’s request to probe oil baron

Switzerland to gets Britain’s request to probe oil baron

There were strong indications on Wednesday that Switzerland might extradite a Nigerian oil baron, Kola Aluko, to the United Kingdom.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, in an electronic mail to one of our correspondents, confirmed that the UK had sought for mutual legal assistance from its country.

In an e-mail sent to it, the office of the AGF of Switzerland was asked if it had received extradition request from the UK on the businessman.

It was also asked to specify the time the extradition process would begin and when he would be extradited.

In his response, Nathalie Guth of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, stated, “I refer to your request of today and we can confirm that the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has received a request for mutual legal assistance from England in this context.”

He declined to give further information on the request.

But The PUNCH learnt that “the mutual legal assistance” could lead to eventual extradition of Aluko to the UK in connection with the investigation of former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

When contacted on Wednesday, the spokesperson for the UK High Commission in Abuja,   Joe Abuku, said the official that could give information on Aluko’s extradition was out of town and could not be reached on the telephone.

“I can’t give any information on the extradition issue because the official that would brief me is out of town and cannot be reached on the phone, but I will try and get him tomorrow (today),” he said.

One of our correspondents also sent a mail requesting information on the extradition to the Home Office email, but it had not been responded to as of the time of this report.

A top security official in the United Kingdom told The PUNCH that the probe of Aluko may lead to his deportation to the United Kingdom.

He said, “There are srong links between the former oil minister and Aluko. Extradition is not out of question.”

Aluko is an associate of Alison-Madueke, who was arrested in the UK last week for alleged bribery and money laundering.

Another oil baron and Chairman of Atlantic Energy, Jide Omokore, was on Monday quizzed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the ongoing investigation into the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Operatives of the EFCC had Friday last week searched the residence of Alison-Madueke in Asokoro, Abuja.

The operatives stormed the ex-minister’s residence shortly after she was arrested by the police in the UK.

Alison-Madueke was arrested by the operatives of the National Crime Agency in London in connection with fraud and bribery offences.

The spokesman for the UK High Commission in Abuja, Joe Abuku, had confirmed to one of our correspondents that five persons were arrested by the agency.

The International Corruption Unit of the NCA had also confirmed the arrest of five people across London as part of an investigation into suspected bribery and money laundering activities.

Meanwhile, the UK is still interested in the extradition of a former Bayelsa State governor, Diprieye Alamieyeseigha, to Britain to face charges of money laundering, The PUNCH has learnt.

A diplomatic source on Wednesday told one of our correspondents that the British Government would press for Alamieyeseigha’s extradition all over again.

The source noted that the UK had earlier requested Alamieyeseigha’s extradition but that did not get any response from former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

The source cited the statement credited to the former British High Commissioner, Andrew Pocock, who said the UK had asked Nigeria’s Ministry of Justice for Alamieyeseigha’s extradition.

“As Pocock said, the UK had requested the former governor’s extradition and the request is still pending, which means that the British Government will press the (President Muhammadu) Buhari’s administration to respond to the extradition request and we have no doubt it would be carried out,” he said.

Abuku could not be reached for comment as several calls made to his phone indicated that it was not available.

He had yet to respond to a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.

Pocock had, during a media interview, said Britain was still waiting for Nigeria’s response to the extradition request for Alamieyeseigha.

The envoy had said, “The former governor skipped bail in the UK on a charge of money laundering and returned to Nigeria. So, he has an outstanding charge in the UK, which is there for him to answer.

“We have already discussed it and the Nigerian government knows our views. But we would like to see him return and answer charge in the UK.

“We have asked the Attorney General. He will have to tell us what his position is on extradition. I haven’t had a reply yet, but we still wait for it.”

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, had also said the UK had every legal right to demand the extradition of Alamieyeseigha to London.

Sagay said Buhari would do well by extraditing the former governor to the UK.

Alamieyeseigha was jailed by a Nigerian court in 2007 for corruption and was made to forfeit stolen properties to the government but he received pardon from Jonathan in 2013.

The former President had served as Alamieyeseigha’s deputy in Bayelsa between 1999 and 2005, when he was arrested at the Heathrow Airport in London for money laundering.