The publisher of Ovation magazine, Dele Momodu, has released photos of cancer-stricken Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the inaugural issue of a brand new tabloid titled Boss magazine.
Last week, Mr. Momodu devoted his weekly column in Thisday newspaper to relating his experience meeting with the seriously sick former minister for an interview in the UK. The column engendered significant controversy on social media, with many readers accusing the columnist cum celebrity publisher of helping to launder Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s image. Some of the column’s critics felt that Mr. Momodu’s brief was to garner public sympathy for the embattled ex-minister, who is the focus of money laundering investigations in the UK as well as Nigeria.
Today, Mr. Momodu released the text of an interview with Mrs. Madueke along with photos of the physically ravaged former minister. The shocking photos are a far cry from the ex-minister’s former radiant and energetic persona.
However, the release of the former minister’s devastated physique has left many Nigerians on social media still skeptical. Many commentators have speculated that images of her ravaged appearance could have been “photo-shopped” in order to curry public sympathy for a woman who was one of the brashest members of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet.
Earlier today, SaharaReporters spoke by phone to Mr. Momodu who was transiting in Dubai, United Arab Emirate, to ask if he was willing to release original copies of Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s photos to our reporter. He said he could not, explaining that he had signed “several” legal agreements never to release the photos to a third party.
SaharaReporters was first to exclusively report close to a year ago that Mrs. Alison-Madueke was suffering from cancer and making frequent trips to the UK for treatment. At the time, she was still the most powerful member of Mr. Jonathan’s cabinet.
Following one of our reports on her sickness, the then Petroleum Minister issued a statement refuting our report. However, a month ago, her attorney sent a letter to SaharaReporters and other media organizations admitting for the first time that the former powerful Petroleum Minister was undergoing treatment for breast cancer in the UK.
In September, the UK National Crimes Agency arrested Mrs. Alison-Madueke in connection with fraud. She was granted bail and has not been charged in any British court. However, UK authorities confiscated some cash from Mrs. Alison-Madueke, her mother, Beatrice Agama, and Melanie Spencer, the wife of Kevin Okyere, a Ghanaian businessman identified as one of the former minister’s alleged co-conspirators.