Family of embattled former Petroleum Resources Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke have opened up on the money laundering allegations against their daughter and wife in London. They described media reports on the matter as a “smear campaign.”
THE TRUTH VERSUS THE MEDIA HYSTERIA AGAINST THE MADUEKE FAMILY
1. In this era of cyber terrorism, decency dictates that one should response to false and defamatory allegations with silence. But there is a limit to how much any reasonable person can bear the tactics of these cyber terrorists. We all know that what makes a lie fly is the little truth contained therein. This happens to be the weapon used by most online news media to feed their weird obsession with defaming highly placed people.
2. The Madueke family is appalled at the ongoing media frenzy against Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke by a section of the mass media following an invitation to her by the British authorities last Friday for reasons which have yet to be disclosed. For the avoidance of doubt, the family would like to state categorically that it has no issues with any persons from the family being invited anywhere in the world to answer questions about their private or official conduct. The Madueke family believes in law and order, honour and due process.
3. However, it is clear that here is a deliberate and vicious campaign to demonise members of the Madueke family, with all manner of frivolous allegations. For example, an online news media gleefully published that Mr. Ugonna Madueke “owns at least three properties in the United States.” It even called the properties “POSH” and went on to state the addresses. THEY LIED.
4. Mr. Ugonna Madueke has NO PROPERTY ANY WHERE in the United States and has NEVER OWNED ONE. The USA is a country which runs on transparency, accountability and technology. A little honest effort by the online news media would have provided in a few minutes the true ownership of the properties at issue.
5. For historical accuracy, the Madueke family avers without any fear of contradiction that 11711 Scooter Lane (a three bedroom town house) in Fairfax, Virginia, was acquired by the Madueke family in 1997 when Ugonna was only 10 years old. Ugonna’s siblings lived in this property while attending George Mason University in Virginia, USA. Records available to the appropriate authorities in the United States can also show that 13116 Silver Maple Court in Bowie, Maryland, USA belongs to an uncle of the Madueke siblings and was purchased in 1995 when Ugonna was only 8 years old. As a student of the University of Maryland in 2002, Ugonna stayed with his uncle at the said address. All of this was before Mrs. Diezani was appointed to government office. No Madueke or a distant relation has anything to do with the ownership of No. 4227 Summit Manor Court in Virginia.
6. It is evident that what the online news media did was to turn on an internet search engine and maliciously reported that every property where Ugonna Madueke has ever lived in the United States or used as his address must belong to him. The description of the properties as POSH was the icing on the propaganda cake. This is not only unprofessional, as it offends the tenets of journalism, it is clearly not in resonance with good conscience.
7. The online news media also reported that Ugonna and his cousins registered a company by name Hadley Petroleum Solutions Limited which they have been using to deal in Nigerian crude oil sales. As young men bubbling with enthusiasm and fantasy, they registered a company but after two years of no jobs, the company folded up. The company never had a bank account, let alone being a trader of Nigeria’s crude oil. They lied.
8. The online news media took its campaign to the in-laws of the Maduekes. It claimed that Mrs. Beatrice Agama, the 81 year old mother of Mrs. Diezani Madueke, owns a house in the United Kingdom. A LIE! Mrs. Agama has no house or property in the United Kingdom. She has been staying in a rented two-bedroom flat from where she is receiving medical attention for a broken femur. Her son, Timi Agama who has been living in the UK for decades, used to have a house in the UK long before his sister was appointed to government and he sold it long ago. Since then, he has no house in the UK. Archbishop Doye Agama of the Apostolic Pastoral Congress in Manchester, who is in his 60s, is a successful professional and consultant well known amongst his peers, but he does not own Unit 8 Quebec Building in Manchester which the online newspaper ascribed to him.
9. As though to outdo the sensational allegations in the online publication, the mainstream media in Nigeria has been alleging that Mrs. Diezani attempted to purchase a property on Hyde Park Street in London for a whooping amount which embarrassingly ranges from 12.5 million sterling pounds to 13 billion sterling pounds. This claim is utterly false and laughable, for the amounts mentioned are only in the imagination of the reporters. This property is quite popular. It belongs to a well-known eminently successful Nigerian entrepreneur who would also find this allegation embarrassing as the intention to sell the property has neither been contemplated nor disclosed to any person.
10. It is worthy to note that despite all the frenzy over Mrs. Diezani Madueke, not even one reporter or journalist has tried to contact the family to verify any of the rumors they have published with reckless abandon. This may be because they know the stories are false but it feeds the mood of the moment. Hence, the silence from Diezani all along. It is worth emphasising that Mrs Alison-Madueke was never arrested or detained and her passport was never seized. She was merely invited, and she honoured it promptly.
11. The Madueke family, like most other families, have their own challenges. For instance, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke has been receiving treatment for cancer in the UK which started while she was in office. The health crisis has unfortunately exacerbated in recent times. She completed months of chemotherapy just last week and she is scheduled to undergo surgery next week in London. The family has been bearing this challenge with prayers and as much grace and fortitude as possible; and would plead with all reasonable Nigerians to pray for her recovery so that she can face this allegation and give account of her stewardship. Yes, she can—and very well, too.
12. The Madueke and Agama families would want the decent public to know that neither Ugonna nor Somze or Abiye or anyone related to the two families was picked up or arrested or invited for questioning by anybody whatsoever. Ugonna’s father (the Rear Admiral) has been in Lagos and working in his office. The lies about his having travelled with a team of lawyers should please stop. The Madueke family has taken a decision on how to appropriately deal with those who are on a mission to soil their hard earned family name.
Signed for and on behalf of the Madueke and Agama families.
Barrister Oscar M. Onwudiwe.