Bank chief contests alleged Diezani money in court

Embattled former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke

A Federal High Court Lagos on Tuesday fixed February 16 to deliver judgment in a suit by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking forfeiture of funds linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.

Justice Muslim Hassan fixed the date after hearing arguments from counsels representing parties in the suit.

Justice Hassan had on January 6 issued an interim order of forfeiture of the sum of $153.3 million to the Federal Government, following an exparte application by EFCC seeking similar relief.

The EFCC had initiated the exparte application seeking an interim order, for the temporary forfeiture to the FG, of the sum, which it claims is linked to Mrs. Alison-Madueke.

The court had also issued 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 federal government.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, Charles Adeogun, announced appearance for Dauda Lawal, an Executive Director of First Bank, who is joined as respondent in the suit.

On the other hand, Rotimi Oyedepo, announced appearance for the EFCC.

Mr. Oyedepo informed the court that in line with its interim orders of January 6, the EFCC had served same on the respondent (Lawal).

In response, counsel to Mr. Lawal (Mr. Adeogun) confirmed the position, and added that he had filed a counter affidavit deposed to by Mr. Lawal, challenging the said forfeiture orders.

Arguing his application, he urged the court to issue an order, directing a refund of the sum of N9.08 billion 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’’.

He said: “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,’’ he said.

He argued 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.

According to him, the sum of 40 million dollars was therefore taken as an overdraft from his bank to offset the alleged extra sum.

He, therefore, urged the court to order the immediate refund of the sum to his client.

In his reply, Mr. Oyedepo submitted 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, forfeitable to the federal government.

He queried: “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?’’

He argued that paragraph 4 of the applicant’s reply affidavit showed a meeting of the minds of some members of staff of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as well as the respondent to launder funds.

“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,’’ he said.

According to Mr. Oyedepo, “it will amount to contesting the obvious for Lawal to argue that he had no knowledge of the said sums’’.

He argued that it was uncommon for a law enforcement agency like the EFCC to detain a person in its custody in perpetuity, without an order of the court, adding that 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.’’

He also urged the court to order the forfeiture of other sums to which no claim had been laid.

“I urge the court to so hold,’’ he said.

After listening to the submission of counsels, Justice Hassan fixed Feb. 16 for judgment. (NAN)


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  • osezuwa

    It’s so shameful that a case that is yet to be fully dispensed in a competent court, efcc has gone to the media trying to tarnish the image of Diezani. Nemesis will catch up some day with everyone in govt plotting evil

    • marc umeh

      Nemesis will catch up with you and your elk. You are part of our problem.

      • Adele Uhuru

        Stupidity in you knows no bounds- read his statement once more and tell me what was so out of place – logically the legal proceedings to convict a person or entity for an alleged crime goes through to completion before forfeiture progressions commences or in most cases they both go hand in hand, by default if you are found wanting by an actual court of law your assets acquired from the illegality is forfeited – see these second-hand thieves from Duara have scheme a way to steal the stolen funds for their own personal gratification under the premise of fighting corruption- why do you think their criminal in chief flies off to UK for medical treatment constantly, a feat he couldn’t afford as ordinary citizen ?

        • zacchaeus Akinleye

          Crow as loud as you may, we’re going to recover every looted funds, and will shame the very important thieves behind this national burglary.

          • Alpachino Roar

            Recover what funds….all the funds they said have been recovered and still looking for loan up and down.

          • sab

            And at the same time use an IT company to execute a N270m grass cutting contract and the oga at the top says there was no wrongdoing in that.

        • Sir Demo

          Go back to school pls. Your argument is neither sound nor valid.

          • Alpachino Roar

            Neither is yours

        • marc umeh

          Listen , my friend I have read this over and over. Then I turned to the opinion in question. ” it is so shameful that— the efcc has gone to the media to tanish dezianis image–.”
          Then I turned to your opinion—-” stupidity in you knows no bounds—-“.
          I will not call you names. You must be related to one of the defendants or you are one of the hangers-on. That’s the only reasonable explanation I can come up with.

    • zacchaeus Akinleye

      Your part in damnation over Nigeria’s impoverishment by the acts of the privileged crooks like Diezani is eternally guaranteed!

    • Powerlessconscious

      What image does diezani have?

  • Rommel

    So who owns this money,I thought Diezani said she knows nothing about the money

    • sab

      Welcome back. Travelled when the Babachir hot story was trending?

  • Tamuno

    If Ms D does not own the money, who does. Bank money is from customers’ deposits. The bank should tell the court who owns the money or else it is Nigerian property.

  • Sir Demo

    40 millions overdraft from a bank? On what collateral? This is NOT money laundering, this is sabotage and highly treasonable

  • Ohnigeria Godsavenigeria

    Not minding the trillions of dollars Buhari and his lying agents said that they recovered from looters, yet naira is exchanging at 520 to the dollar, the worst thing that ever happened to Nigeria since independent.
    It is either that this government is a lying wonder or that they are worst than corruption or both. Those who willingly sold out their souls and destroyed their own conscience because of tribal, religious, partisan bigotry, and are supporting this people in their wickedness, are shameless agents of belial. Shame unto them for their blindness.ok

    • ladi

      Go n learn economics of forex buz b4 u comment in public.if u don’t know,dnt show us dat u dnt know by sense less coment

  • Gary

    So far there’s been no factual link or evidence directly linking Diezani to these transactions. All we have reported here are names of NNPC officials and bankers. Then the EFCC prosecutor and the propaganda lynch mob then engage in conjectures that Diezani must be involved.

    Interesting too, most of those named are Notherners and their usual Yoruba allies in grand larceny and corruption. But you’ll never hear anyone mention it unless it involves the SE and SS people.
    Abi I lie?