How First Bank Laundered Funds For Former Petroleum Minister, Diezani——————-EFCC
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday narrated how an Executive Director of First Bank PLC, Dauda Lawal helped laundered funds for former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison Madueke.
The anti-graft agency informed Justice Muslim Sule Hassan of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Lawyer to EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo made the disclosure while responding to a counter affidavit filed by Lawal.
The Executive Director is praying Justice Hassan to discharge an interim forfeiture order of a sum to the tune of N9.08 billion.
Justice Hassan had on January 6, 2017 granted an order of interim forfeiture of N9.08 billion to the Federal Government of Nigeria sequel to an exparte application instituted by EFCC seeking similar relief.
The anti-graft agency had filed the exparte application, asking for an interim order, for the temporary forfeiture to the FG, of the sum, which it claims is linked to Diezani.
Justice Hassan had equally granted 14 days to any interested party to appear and prove the legitimacy of the monies, failing which the funds would be permanently forfeited to the FG.
At Tuesday’s sitting on the matter, Oyedepo confirmed to the judge that in line with his interim orders of January 6, 2017, the EFCC had served same on Lawal.
The EFCC lawyer further told Justice Hasssn that the order was also published in a national daily in compliance with the orders of the court.
But responding, lawyer to the Executive Director of First Bank (Lawal), Charles Adeogun argued that he had filed a counter affidavit deposed to by Lawal, confronting the said forfeiture orders.
Adeogun also prayed Justice Hassan to grant an order, directing a refund of the sum of N9.08billion to his client, on the grounds that same was obtained by coercion.
He argued that before such forfeiture orders can be made, two essential elements must be satisfied namely: “that the property in question is unclaimed, and that such property or funds forms proceeds of an unlawful act.
According to the lawyer, “We became aware of the forfeiture order when the interim order was served on us; my client was never confronted with these sets of facts during his incarceration at the EFCC.
“After service of the orders, I requested for the statement of my client to the commission, but same was never given to me.”
The lawyer agreed that his client admitted having received the sum of 25 million dollars in clear dispensation of his duties, but was coerced by the commission to further admit receiving a total of 65 million dollars.
Adeogun further contended that the sum of 40 million dollars was therefore taken as an over draft from his bank to off set the alleged extra sum.
The counsel prayed the court to issue an order of immediate refund of the sum to his client.
In his reply, the EFCC lawyer, Oyedepo maintained that the tenure of section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other related offence Act, makes a property which is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime, forefeitable to the FG.
Oyedepo said: “Going by the facts and circumstances of this particular case, can it be said that the sum of N9.08 billion which is the naira equivalent of 40 million dollars, was not reasonably suspected to form proceeds of a crime?
“Paragraph 4 of the applicant’s reply affidavit shows a meeting of the minds of some staffs of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as well as the respondent to launder funds.
He said “My lord, paragraph 4 of our reply affidavit shows a meeting of the minds of one Gbenga Komolafe, former group MD, crude oil marketing division NNPC, Prince Haruna Momoh, former group MD Petroleum Product Marketing company, Umar Farouk Ahmed, Group MD Nigerian Product Marketing Company as well as Dauda Lawal, to launder funds on behalf of former petroleum minister, Diezani Allison Madueke.
“It will amount to contesting the obvious for Lawal to argue that he had no knowledge of the said sums. It is uncommon for a law enforcement agency like the EFCC to detain a person in its custody in perpetuity, without an order of the court. The statement of Lawal was lawfully obtained.
“The respondent was duly cautioned before he voluntarily made his statement at the commission, and his lawyer even appended his signature further attesting to the fact that the statements were obtained voluntarily.
“So having freely volunteered a statement, he cannot urge my lord not to attach full probative value to his statement.
“I submit that the appropriate order in the circumstance is for the court to order a final forfeiture of the sum of N9.08 billion already surrendered by the respondent, to the Federal government.
“I urge the court to so hold.”
The matter has been adjourned until February 16, 2017 for judgment.