The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, on Tuesday, ordered the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) to pay N540.5 million in damages to a pastor, Emmanuel Omale, of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry and his wife, Deborah, over false claim that they laundered N573 million for former chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
Delivering judgement in the suit, Yusuf Halilu, the judge, held that the bank breached its “duty of care to the claimants,” the Omales and their church.
The judgment was on the suit marked: FCT/HC/CV2541/2020 filed by Mr Omale, his wife and the church.
The judge held that the evidence before the court showed that the bank admitted error in its report to the NFIU of entries in the account of Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry which was accused of laundering money on Mr Magu’s behalf.
Mr Halilu also said the bank claimed that the purported N573 million was wrongly reflected as credit entry in Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry’s account by its reporting system, which it recently upgraded.
The judge held that FCMB admitted the error, which brought incalculable damage to the reputation of the claimants both within and outside the Nigeria – depleting their church’s membership.
Mr Halilu said the claimants provided sufficient evidence to establish case of negligence against FCMB.
Consequently, the judge awarded N200 million as aggravated damages; N140.5 million as specific damages and N200 million as general damages.
During the investigation of Magu by a Presidential Investigation Committee on the EFCC Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances from May 2015 to May 2020, it was alleged that an investigation by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) revealed that Mr Magu, who is now retired from the police, paid N573 million into Mr Omale’s church’s account.
It further alleged that the funds were used to purchase property for him in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
About the time the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported the report of the panel, Mr Magu was facing a barrage of similar allegations of a presidential investigative panel led by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Ayo Salami.
President Muhammad Buhari has refused to release the report of any of the panels to enable the public to have first-hand information about Mr Magu’s culpability or otherwise in the charge and many others levelled against him.
The Mr Salami-led panel, which conducted its months-long hearing in secrecy, is believed to have been engineered by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to get Mr Magu out of office over wide differences they shared on diverse issues.
Mr Magu, who was suspended as Acting Chairman of the EFCC in the wake of the probe by Mr Salami’s panel, was never recalled or held accountable for any infraction after the panel submitted its report to Mr Buhari.
The other panel, titled, ‘Final Report of the Presidential Investigation Committee on the EFCC Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances from May 2015 to May 2020,’ was said to be headed by Abdullahi Ibrahim, a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
It stated that Mr Magu, through a pastor named Omale, had been laundering public funds to foreign countries.
“As an unknown pastor, the NFIU’s report showed the huge movement of funds ranging from N573, 228,040.41,” the report claimed.
The report, published by NAN, delved into other allegations against Mr Magu including- failing to cooperate with foreign authorities over probe on former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke, and circulation of disproportionate figures on recovered loot.
The report accused Mr Magu of allegedly failing to properly account for a recovered N551 billion by the EFCC while he was its acting chairman.
The report featured prominently in the course of the defamation hearing filed by the Omales to clear their names.
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