Former Nigerian oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke temporarily forfeited $153.3 million to the Nigerian government yesterday.
Out of the loot, N23.4 billion was kept in Sterling Bank Plc. The sum of N9.08 billion was kept in First Bank Plc and $5m in Access Bank Plc.
Justice Muslim Hassan, who gave the order, gave 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 of Nigeria
The judge made the order in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which appeared before him yesterday with an ex parte application seeking the temporary forfeiture of the funds.
According to EFCC investigator, Moses Awolusi, Diezani instructed a former managing director of Fidelity Bank, I Nnamdi Okonkwo to ensure that the money was “neither credited into any known account nor captured in any transaction platforms” of Fidelity Bank.
Okonkwo accepted and implemented the deal leading to the movement of $153,310,000 from NNPC to Fidelity Bank.
He averred further that 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.
The investigator said 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.
The money was was subsequently converted into N23.4 billion 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.
The investigator said the EFCC had also recovered another $5m out of the money kept with the Managing Director 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 Executive Director, Lawal had similarly 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.
Moving the ex parte application yesterday, the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged Justice Hassan to order the temporary forfeiture of the funds to the Federal Government and to order Sterling Bank and Lawal, who were joined as defendants in the application, as well as any other interested parties, to appear in court within two weeks to show cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.