LAGOS/ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke was arrested in London on Friday, a source from Nigeria’s presidency circle and another with links to her family said.
Alison-Madueke was minister from 2010 until May 2015 under former president Goodluck Jonathan, who was defeated by Muhammadu Buhari at the polls in March.
Buhari took office in May promising to root out corruption in Africa’s most populous country, where few benefit from the OPEC member’s enormous energy resources.
A police spokesman in London said he had no record of such an arrest. The National Crime Agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But in a short statement on its website, the NCA said its International Corruption Unit had arrested five people across London on suspicion of bribery and corruption offences on Friday, without naming the suspects.
Nigerian media outlets, including Channels TV, said that Alison-Madueke had been granted bail after several hours in custody.
Reuters was unable to reach Alison-Madueke’s personal assistant or a lawyer representing her. She has previously denied to Reuters any wrongdoing when questioned about missing public funds and graft allegations.
In a sign that the arrest had been coordinated with Nigerian authorities, the financial crimes unit sealed one of Alison-Madueke’s houses in the upmarket Asokoro district in the capital Abuja, two security officials said.
During her time in office, former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi was sacked after he raised concern that tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues had not been remitted to state coffers by the government-run oil company NNPC between January 2012 and July 2013.
Ordinary Nigerians, tired of seeing no narrowing of the West African country’s wealth gap, have been eagerly waiting to see the results of probes into the oil sector.
Buhari said on Sunday that the prosecution of those suspected of misappropriating the NNPC’s revenue under past administrations would begin soon.
Getting tough on corruption would deflect criticism of Buhari for failing to appoint a cabinet or an economic team four months after taking office as Nigeria’s economy is going through a severe crisis due to the plunge in global oil prices.
Reporting by Felix Onuah and Julia Payne, additional reporting by UK newsroom; writing by Julia Payne and Ulf Laessing; editing by Janet Lawrence and G Crosse