Nigeria is seeking to extradite a former oil minister accused of alleged wide-scale corruption in four different countries including Britain.
Diezani Alison-Madueke, who served in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan between 2010-2015, is believed to be living in London where she is being investigated by British authorities for suspected bribery and money laundering.
The 58-year-old, who is thought to be living with her mother in a property in the exclusive St John’s Wood district, was arrested by the National Crime Agency in 2015. She is currently on bail and has had her passport revoked while the authorities conduct their investigation.
Ms Alison-Madueke has been linked to three multimillion-pound properties in the British capital, one of which is at the centre of a civil lawsuit by the US Department of Justice. The US authorities believe the property was given to her as a gift in exchange for a lucrative oil contract.
In Nigeria she is being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of money laundering up to $115 million (Dh535 million).
She was also named alongside Mr Jonathan in an Italian probe into a $1.3bn deal involving oil companies Shell and Eni, accused of receiving kickbacks from the deal. However, the two were not charged by prosecutors.
The Cambridge educated politician, who was also the first female president of Opec, has always denied allegations of wrongdoing.
The international arrest warrant news comes as current Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari begins his campaign for re-election.
Mr Buhari was elected in 2015 promising to recover some of the $230bn that has left Nigeria as a result of corruption since 2004. An estimated $37bn of stolen Nigerian money is believed to be in London.
Nigeria’s anti-corruption Tsar Ibrahim Magu said it wanted to extradite Ms Alison-Madueke because “no prosecution” was progressing in Britain.
Matthew Page, associate fellow at Chatham House, said it was unclear why Nigeria was pushing for her extradition when it was unlikely she would be prosecuted successfully in the country given the state of the judicial system.
“The prosecution is more likely to be successful overseas and the Nigerian anti-corruption authorities have been assisting the US and the UK in their investigations,” he said.
Mr Page told The National the most likely explanation for the request was “pre-election primping” of the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption credentials. Mr Buhari’s main opposition is the People’s Democratic Party, the governing party in which Ms Alison-Adueke served as oil minister.
“Diezani is loathed in Nigeria,” Mr Page said. “To many people she was seen as off the spectrum corrupt in terms of the quantity and the brazenness with which she stole from the state.”