Nigeria’s Federal High Court on Wednesday charged a former oil minister with money laundering in an election bribery scandal over efforts to ensure former President Goodluck Jonathan won the 2015 election.
Diezani Allison-Madueke is the first minister from Jonathan’s Cabinet to be formally charged.
Prosecutors allege that she paid bribes totaling 264 million naira (nearly $1.4 million at the time) to three electoral officials the day before the March 2015 elections.
A former national security adviser has told the court that $2.1 billion was diverted from the war on Boko Haram extremists for bribes to ensure Jonathan won.
Allison-Madueke, 56, was absent when charges were read Wednesday. She has been in London since Jonathan lost the elections. British National Crime Agency officers detained her briefly in 2015 for questioning about alleged money-laundering.
Neither the former minister nor her lawyers could immediately be reached for comment.
Prosecutor Rotimi Oyedepo of the anti-corruption Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said he has entered into a plea bargain with one of the electoral officials, Christian Nwosu, the only one to plead guilty.
Oyedepo said Nwosu has surrendered the title deeds to a 25-million-naira property bought with the money and refunded 5 million naira.
Judge Mohammed Idris granted bail of 50 million naira to the other two accused electoral officials, Yisa Olarenwaju and Tijani Bashir, and ordered them to surrender their passports.
Allison-Madueke was a powerful member of Jonathan’s Cabinet from 2010 to May 2015, during which the former Central Bank governor alleged more than $20 billion went missing from oil receipts.
Hundreds of former and current officials are being investigated since President Muhammadu Buhari won the election in part on his promise to halt corruption in Africa’s biggest economy and one of its biggest oil producers.
By Africafrique and agencies