Diezani forfeits N34b to govt.
Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos has finally agreed with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that over N34 billion linked to former Petroleum Minister Allison-Madueke were proceeds of corruption and should be forfeited to the federal government.
He had temporarily placed a forfeiture order last January, but this Thursday he slammed the permanent order.
Only an appeal court decision can reverse the order, but experts fear an appeal may never come up in the life of this administration.
The huge sum was allegedly siphoned from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and stashed in three banks in the country.
Of the sum, $153.3m, a sum of N23,446, 300,000 was kept in Sterling Bank Plc, N9,080,000,000 in First Bank Plc and $5m in Access Bank Plc.
Justice Hassan had last January given Sterling Bank and any other interested party 14 days to appear before him to prove the legitimacy of the monies, failing which the funds would be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
In a nine-paragraph affidavit filed in support of the ex parte application, an EFCC investigator, Moses Awolusi, claimed that the anti-graft agency discovered through its investigations how sometime in December 2014 Diezani invited a former Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo, to her office where they hatched the plan of how a cash sum of $153,310,000 would be moved from NNPC to Okonkwo to be saved for Diezani.
According to Awolusi, Diezani instructed Okonkwo to ensure that the money was “neither credited into any known account nor captured in any transaction platforms” of Fidelity Bank.
Awolusi said Okonkwo accepted and implemented the deal leading to the movement of $153,310,000 from NNPC to Fidelity Bank.
He said two former Group Executive Directors of Finance and Account of NNPC, B.O.N. Otti and Stanley Lawson, helped Diezani to move the cash from NNPC, Abuja to the headquarters of Fidelity Bank in Lagos.
Awolusi said in a desperate bid to conceal the source of the money, Okonkwo, upon receiving it, instructed the Country Head of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Martin Izuogbe, to take $113,310,000 cash out of the money to the Executive Director, Commercial and Institutional Bank, Sterling Bank Plc, Lanre Adesanya, to keep.
He said the remaining $40m was taken in cash to the Executive Director, Public Sector Accountant, First Bank, Dauda Lawal, to keep.
Out of the $113,310,000 handed over to Adesanya, a sum of $108,310,000 was invested in an off balance sheet investment using Sterling Asset Management Trustees Limited.
Thr $108,310,000, the EFCC man added, was subsequently changed to N23,446, 300,000 and saved in Sterling Bank.
Awolusi said the EFCC had recovered the N23.4bn in draft and had registered it as an exhibit marked, EFCC 01.
EFCC had also recovered another $5m out of the money kept with the MD of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe.
He said the $5m was recovered in draft and had been registered as an exhibit marked, EFCC 02.
According to him, First Bank’s ED, Lawal, had converted the $40m kept with him to N9,080,000,000.
Awolusi, however, said the EFCC had recovered that also in draft and registered it as Exhibit EFCC 03.