Towards the end of former President Goodluck Jonathan ’ s administration , former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison -Madueke , was appointed Commissioner for Trade and Investment by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of the Commonwealth of Dominica and was handed a diplomatic passport .
This , perhaps , is why Diezani has been able to evade prosecution despite being in London for over four years .
According to Qatar- based network , Al Jazeera , the former minister may have purchased a $ 2 . 2 m choice property near the United Nations in upscale Manhattan , New York , for the Dominican Prime Minister in order to obtain the passport .
In a documentary titled, ‘ Diplomats for sale ’ , Al Jazeera reveals how politically exposed persons , including leaders of international drug cartels, purchase diplomatic passports from Caribbean countries for a fee which ranges between $ 250 , 000 and $ 2 m depending on the personality involved .
The bribe is usually paid to the leader of that country who then appoints the buyer as an ambassador or a diplomat. The buyer is subsequently issued with a diplomatic passport which gives him or her immunity from prosecution based on the Vienna Convention of 1961 .
According to the news agency , shortly before Diezani left office , there were already reports that she had allegedly stolen billions of dollars .
Worried that the incoming President Muhammadu Buhari ’ s administration might probe her , the former minister allegedly fled to London and obtained a diplomatic passport from the Prime Minister of Dominican Republic himself .
The report stated , “ In London , she ( Diezani ) is personally handed a Dominican diplomatic passport by Prime Minister Skerrit ; a passport which could shield her from criminal charges . We found documents showing a few days later that a shell company is formed in Delaware , an American state where laws mean the true owners of a company are kept secret .
“ Four months later , that shell company buys a New York apartment for $ 2 . 2 m with no mortgage . Property records confirm that the prime minister ’ s wife , Melissa, was a resident . Photos placed the Skerrit family there. Both Diezani and Skerrit deny any links to the company that bought the apartment .
“ Skerrit said the family resided there due to a kind gesture by an unnamed friend of his wife . He strongly denies any wrongdoing and says he didn ’ t demand or receive any money from Madueke . ”
The 53 – minute documentary also shows how countries like St . Lucia , Antigua and Grenada all in the Caribbean carry out such “ diplomatic passport for cash ” scam.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had in March lamented the slow pace at which the United Kingdom was handling Diezani’s case.