Alleged Diezani Loot: Court adjourns arraignment of two bank directors

Nnamdi Okonkwo
Nnamdi Okonkwo, Managing Director, Fidelity Bank

A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court has adjourned till December 17 the arraignment of the managing director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo, and a former director at First Bank, Dauda Lawal, for allegedly assisting Diezani Alison-Madueke to conceal $153 million in 2015.

They are facing a 14-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering before Muslim Hassan, a federal judge.

Mrs Alison-Madueke, the immediate past petroleum minister who is still out of the country, is also facing multiple charges of money laundering.

Last week, an Abuja court granted the EFCC leave to arraign her and a former chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling company, Jide Omokore, in February next year.

The arraignment of the bank chiefs, who were charged alongside Lanre Adesanya and Stanley Lawson, was originally scheduled for Monday but the judge adjourned to enable the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to serve the charge sheet to all the defendants.

Wahab Shittu, counsel to the EFCC, requested the adjournment to serve Messrs Okonkwo and Adesanya.

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Hassan Liman, a senior advocate of Nigeria and counsel to Mr Lawal, told the judge that his client had been in EFCC custody since November 29 and prayed that he admitted to bail.

But in a bench ruling, Muslim Hassan, the judge, said he lacked jurisdiction to grant Mr Liman’s request as the defendants were yet to be arraigned.

He directed that Mr Lawal be taken back to the custody of the EFCC till December 17.

According to the charge sheet, Messrs Okonkwo and Lawson, Mrs Alison-Madueke, and Ben Otti, a former group executive director (finance and account) at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation conspired among themselves to conceal $153.3 million in Fidelity Bank.

The defendants are also accused of using $25 million to acquire a property known as Ogeyi Place Hotel situated at GRA Phase 2, Port Harcourt, in 2015.

They are further accused of transferring $65 million to Lawal and procured one Adewale Fayemi to take possession of $8.3 million and $80 million without going through a financial institution.

In count 12, Mr Okonkwo was accused of failing to report a suspicious transaction amounting to $80 million to the EFCC while in count 14, Mr Lawal was charged with refraining to report a $65 million suspicious transaction to the commission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated after it was confirmed that one of the accused, Dauda Lawal, is no longer listed as a director of First Bank.

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