Former Nigerian oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke yesterday temporarily forfeited $153.3 million to the Nigerian government.
This was sequel to an order by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The seized money, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was stolen from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and stashed in three banks in Nigeria, in US dollars and Naira.
Out of the loot, N23.4 billion, another N9.08 billion and $5m were kept in three different Nigerian banks. Justice Muslim Hassan, who gave the order, gave the banks 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 EFCC which appeared before him yesterday with an ex parte application seeking the temporary forfeiture of the funds.
In a nine-paragraph affidavit by an EFCC investigator, Moses Awolusi and filed in support of the ex parte application, the anti-graft agency discovered how sometime in December 2014 Diezani invited a former Managing Director of one of the banks to her office. There, they allegedly hatched the plan of how $153,310,000 would be moved from NNPC to Okonkwo to be saved for Diezani.
Diezani, according to Awolusi, instructed Okonkwo to ensure that the money was “neither credited into any known account nor captured in any transaction platforms” of the bank.
The bank chief accepted and implemented the deal leading to the movement of $153,310,000 from NNPC to his 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 the 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 the bank, to take $113,310,000 cash out of the money to the Executive Director, Commercial and Institutional Bank, of another bank, to keep.
He said the remaining $40m was taken in cash to the Executive Director, Public Sector Account, of an old generation bank, 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 the Asset Management Trustees firm of one of the first three banks.
The money was subsequently converted into N23.4 billion and saved in the 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 another bank.
He said the $5m was recovered in draft and had been registered as an exhibit marked, EFCC 02.
According to him, the old generation bank’s Executive Director, 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.
When summed together, the total money so far recovered from the former minister comes to about N35b.
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 the banks and their mentioned officials, 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.
Oyedepo, who said the application was brought pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006 and Section 44(2) of the 1999 Constitution, said granting the application was in the best interest of justice.
Justice Hassan granted the order and adjourned till January 24 for the respondents to appear in court to show cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria. (The Sun)