After a long wait, immediate family of embattled former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, Thursday opened up on the travails of the ex-minister in London.
The family refuted her much-publicised arrest and detention by the British National Crime Agency over allegations of bribery and corruption.
A statement by the family’s lawyer, Oscar Onwudiwe, also frowned at a publication by an online news media (Not DAILY POST) that Diezani’s step son, Ugonna, owns three properties in the United States, stressing that two of the properties were purchased in 1995 and 1997, when Ugonna was eight and 10 years old, respectively, “while the family or a distant relation has no link whatsoever with the third property mentioned by the online publication”.
The lawyer, who claims to also represent Diezani’s mother’s family (Agama,) also stated that neither Ugonna, Somze nor Abiye or anyone related to the two families was picked up or arrested by anybody whatsoever.
He stated that at no time was the former minister’s passport seized, stressing that she was “merely invited, and she honoured it promptly”.
The lawyer further stated that despite all the frenzy over the former petroleum minister, not even one reporter or journalist had tried to contact the family to verify any of the publications.
He said: “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.”
“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,” their lawyer added.
“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,” Onwudiwe said.
According to him, the 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.
He further clarified that Ugonna’s siblings lived in this property while attending George Mason University in Virginia, USA.
The lawyer stated that records available to the appropriate authorities in the United States can also confirm 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 eight 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,” he added.
“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,” Onwudiwe explained.
He also accused the mainstream media in Nigeria of alleging that the former petroleum minister attempted to purchase a property on Hyde Park Street in London “for a whooping amount which embarrassingly ranges from £12.5 million sterling to £13 billion sterling”.
Onwudiwe said: “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.
“The Madueke family, like most other families, has its 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,” he added.
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