October 10, 2015 / 2:02 PM / 2 years ago

Nigerian former oil minister Alison-Madueke has cancer - lawyer

ABUJA, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Nigerian former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is under investigation over allegations of bribery and money laundering, has breast cancer and will undergo surgery in Britain, her lawyer said on Saturday.

Nigerian authorities said Alison-Madueke, who served as oil minister for Africa’s biggest crude producer from 2010-2015, was arrested in London last week. Her lawyer, Oscar Onwudiwe, denied this, saying she spent only 45 minutes with police.

“Mrs Alison-Madueke was never arrested or detained and her passport was never seized. She was merely invited (by British police), and she honoured it promptly,” he said in a statement.

“She has breast cancer and it was not detected early. It was discovered nine months ago,” said Onwudiwe of the 54-year-old ex-minister who served under former president Goodluck Jonathan, adding that she will have surgery in London next week.

The ex-oil minister, who previously denied to Reuters any wrongdoing when questioned about allegations of missing public funds and graft allegations under investigation in Nigeria.

On Monday a court official in London said Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) obtained permission on Monday to temporarily seize 27,000 pounds ($41,318) from Alison-Madueke.

That came just days after the NCA said its International Corruption Unit had arrested five people in London as part of an inquiry into suspected bribery and money laundering offences.

During Alison-Madueke’s tenure, central bank governor Lamido Sanusi was sacked after saying that tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue had not been remitted to state coffers by the government-run oil company NNPC from January 2012 to July 2013.

Alison-Madueke left office in March after Jonathan was defeated by Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election. Buhari has promised to root out corruption in Africa’s biggest economy, where few benefit from Nigeria’s vast oil resources.

Many Nigerians eagerly await the results of investigations into alleged corruption and mismanagement in the oil sector. ($1 = 0.6535 pounds) (Reporting by Julia Payne and Felix Onuah; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Ulf Laessing)

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