What Diezani Alison-Madueke’s arrest means

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke has been arrested today in the United Kingdom. Diezani was reportedly arrested on offences related to bribery and corruption, which are being investigated by the UK National Crime Agency. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has also sealed her house in Abuja.

Alison-Madueke who has been out of Nigeria since President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in reportedly, because of ill-health, was arrested with four other yet to be identified individuals. The British High Commission in Nigeria confirmed the arrests through its Press and Public Affairs Officer, Joseph Abuku.

“This morning, five people between the ages of 21 and 60 were arrested on suspicion of bribery and corruption offenses. The crimes are being investigated by the National Crime Agency. “The National Crime Agency does not confirm identity at arrest nor provide information that could be used to corroborate the identity of an arrested individual,” he reportedly said.

Just last week, Buhari stated that those involved in misappropriation of funds relating to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) would soon be prosecuted.

The implications of Madueke’s arrest

Although it took place in the UK, the past Minister’s arrest came just a day after Nigeria’s independence. During his speech on October 1st, President Buhari reiterated his intention to clean-up the petroleum sector. Alison-Madueke’s arrest barely a day after the speech, suggests that Buhari’s administration intends to keep its promise of punishing those allegedly involved in the corruption that plagued the petroleum sector during the Jonathan administration.

While much is still set to unravel, an inquiry into Alison-Maduweke will certainly implicate several guilty parties, who may even be members of the current administration. However a critical question is whether this arrest intends to single her out, or if it will actually probe the inner workings of the NNPC. While Nigerians await President Buhari’s official statement on the arrest, the complexities of dysfunction within the petroleum sector underscores that this arrest is just the beginning of a long and convoluted journey to fixing corruption within the sector.

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