The EFCC needs less than 72 hours to comply with Tuesday’s court order mandating it and other security agencies to produce Diezani.
Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has vowed that the anti crime agency will get former minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, to answer to allegations of graft leveled against her.
Magu, who made the disclosure in Abuja, yesterday, said the EFCC needs less than 72 hours to comply with Tuesday’s court order mandating it and other security agencies to produce Diezani.
In the event that the EFCC cannot, Magus said he would inform the court of their constraint as the former minister does not live in Nigeria, presently.
Magu, however, said the EFCC has already commenced legal process towards bringing her back, to face corruption trial.
He disclosed these at a session with newsmen and social media influencers at the Commission’s headquarters in Jabi, Abuja, yesterday.
Justice Valentine Ashi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, sitting in Apo, Abuja, had, on Tuesday, ordered EFCC, the Nigeria Police Force, the Department of State Service and other security agencies to arrest and produce the former minister within 72 hours.
The order followed a motion ex parte filed by EFCC’s counsel, Msuur Denga, praying for a warrant of arrest against Alison-Madueke to enable the Commission arraign her for alleged financial crimes in Nigeria.
The former minister has been residing in London since 2015.
Magu also said Nigeria’s looted $300 million remains stuck in the United Kingdom.
He also revealed the commission is collaborating with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and others, to stop vote buying in 2019.
The EFCC boss also lamented that a lot of Nigeria’s monies stashed abroad by some Nigerians are yet to be released, despite several promises by authorities of the countries where the funds are.
He added that the looted funds outside Nigeria were massive.
In a statement by the acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, yesterday, Magus said: “We will comply with the court order. In fact, it is in our character to do so. If we won’t comply with the court order, that means we have reasons to appeal against the court decision.
“We need less than 72 hours to produce Diezani. But she is being prosecuted by other law enforcement agencies outside this country. This is our predicament.”
Talking about the challenge in getting her, he said, “Another law enforcement agency is in the matter. You know she is in the United Kingdom. And we are making preparations to get her. We have already gone to the court, in fact that was our request for extradition that compelled the court to issue a warrant of arrest against her. I need just less than an hour. If she is here, I will get her immediately and take her before the court. Our problem is that she is another man’s country.”
On looted funds still hanging outside the country, Magu said: “More than 80 percent of the loot recovery outside this country is still hanging. Ask them why is it hanging? Why is it so difficult to repatriate this money, when you have established that this only came from Nigeria and you know that this person does not own this money? There is no justification. It’s not small money. We have over $300 million hanging in the United Kingdom.”
On the commission’s plans for next year’s elections, Magu disclosed EFCC is on the trail of politicians to ensure that they do not have the opportunity to sell ill-gotten properties to finance campaigns. (The Sun)
Attorney General Of The Federation, Abubakar Salami
*Wants President to drop the case against Adoke, others for lack of evidence.
*Lawyers express the divergent views
*!AGF queries Magu, Keyamo overcharge against CCT chair
Doosuur Iwambe, and Myke Uzendu, Abuja
In what appears to be a confusion and lack of direction in the fight against corruption, a letter written by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to President Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to back off on his administration’s legal battles against the principal actors in the controversial Malabu Oil deal has sparked a row in the country.
While some lawyers backed Malami for exercising the power of nolle prosequi, (power to continue and terminate any case in court), some other lawyers described what the AGF did as contrary to the mantra of Buhari’s war against corruption and politicising the system.
Speaking during separate interviews with The Daily Times on Monday, the lawyers said that the development will far-reaching effect on the war against graft. The lawyers are Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN), Mr Femi Falana (SAN), Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mr Anthony Agbonlahor, Manny Ikpebe, Terhemen Ibeh and Hameed Jimoh. Speaking in a telephone interview, Ahamba (SAN), said: “I cannot comment on the propriety or otherwise of the action taken by the AGF. It is a professional matter and I don’t comment on issues that the facts are not before me.
“I don’t have details on Malabu oil except what I read in the newspapers. Those who ate the money are there and I don’t know why Malami has written to the president seeking to discontinue some of the cases. So whether he is wrong or right I cannot say for now.”
In his comment, Yusuf Ali (SAN), said: “As the Chief Law officer of the country, he is the only minister recognised by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and empowered to enter any matter and to either continue or terminate it.
“Malami should be commended for doing his job diligently. As the chief law officer of the land, the EFCC, ICPC, Police and any other prosecuting agencies are under him.
“The ideal thing is that all these prosecuting agencies when they have carried out their investigation ought to get necessary input from the office of the AGF.
“In other words, the office of the AGF ought to scrutinise the level of investigation by the agencies in order to ensure that they have a prima facie case that could be sustained in the courts because investigations are very crucial and germane in any case that is referred to court for adjudication.
“It is because this procedure is not usually followed, that is why you have cases thrown out. Once you do not have a good evidence to build up your case, it will be thrown out.
“Regarding the case of Malabu, Malami should be commended because he has done a good job. There is no point in engaging in endless litigations as it is obvious in the view of the AGF that there is no prima facie case on Malabu matter”.
Falana said, “ Instead of writing to the president or issuing queries, the AGF should exercise his powers under section 174 of the Constitution by filing nolle prosequi to terminate the criminal proceedings if he is sure that the EFCC has abused the prosecutorial powers of the state.”
Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi, in his reaction, said: ” From what we know from the facts of the case as presented to the public, this will be one of few that will not bring the voices on the government to congruence at the confluence of our large rivers (of justice).
“I expect water ran against its course with PDP perhaps hailing it, and Puritans bemoaning it. I am constrained on this occasion to side with the AGF. I could see no probable cause other than impugning acts of state; undermining the office of the President and treating the kicks of the slaughtered cow as tremors of a quake.
“Pressing on would have meant no international or domestic government, business, or person should trust the executive acts of the President, supported by various ministers and agencies of the state. It is a sad narrative that EFFC is unable to see the wood for the trees, and in what appears to be a quest for enemy’s fall rather than blind cause of justice, EFFC was blinded in the glare of the sun of justice as it came out of the darkroom unprepared as a true independent non-partisan Puritan warrior. If only EFFC has seen the signals.”
For Ozekhome (SAN), “That is how it should be. The AGF is the chief law officer for the whole country. He is supposed to be a prosecutor and not persecutor under section 174 of the 1999 Constitution. Once he finds that a case lacks certain ingredients to sustain its prosecutor, he should do the needful by discontinuing it, rather than get humiliated in open court.”
Anthony Agbonlahor in his contribution called on the AGF to use his powers appropriately. He said even though the constitution has empowered the AGF to enter the power of nolle prosequi, the powers should not be abused most especially by a government that came on board with the mantra of fighting corruption.
But Manny Ikpebe wondered why the AGF did not write directly to the court of whatever his intention was.
He said, “If the AGF had intended to enter a nolle prosequi, the letter would have been sent to the court directly and not the president.
“If the said letter was directed to the court, it won’t have raised any question because that way; Nigerians will know that he is only exercising his power of nolle prosequi which requires no explanation but writing a letter to the president now brings him to the political terrain and politics and law at this stage do not go hand on hand.
“What he did is not good for the people and the image of the country at all because Nigerians want to see people presumed to be corrupt go through the process and sentenced accordingly but when you do not allow the process of law to go through completely, it will dampen the spirit of the people”.
For Terhemen Ibeh, nothing is wrong with what the AGF did.
He said: “Since the constitution has empowered him, he has no explanation for his action. The AGF is answerable to the president and is not out of context for him to inform him of his decision, hence the president is the Chief Executive Officer”.
In his view, Hameed Jimoh said that by virtue Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution and other judicial pronouncements, the AGF is empowered to exercise discretion to decide whether to send a letter for Presidential approval or to act without recourse to him on any matter before the court.
He said, “So, sending the letter the President is a discretionary act which no court can query or compel him to act in one way or the other.
“Only that it might be viewed that seeking President’s approval might just be to prove the degree of his loyalty to the President and might be political tactics.”
The Daily Times recalls that Malami had in the letter dated September 27, 2017, urged Buhari to back off on his administration’s legal battles against the principal actors in the controversial Malabu Oil deal.
The raging scandal over the OPL 245 oil block began in 2011 when the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration approved its purchase by Shell and Agip-Eni from Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd., a suspected briefcase firm with ties to Dan Etete, a convicted criminal who was Nigeria’s petroleum minister from 1995 to 1998.
The Jonathan administration officials who participated in the negotiation preceding the controversial sale of the massive oil block included former AGF, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) and Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was the former Minister of Petroleum.
Jonathan himself was named by investigators as being involved in the alleged fraud, but the former president strongly denies the charges.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been pursuing fraud and criminal conspiracy charges against Adoke, Mr Etete and their alleged accomplices since 2016. Adoke and Etete are at large while the anti-graft agency had repeatedly sought to fish them out.
In his letter to President Buhari, the AGF Malami said following due examination of the case files, he was able to determine that the EFCC has no significant evidence to prove its allegations of sharp practices against prominent players like Adoke, Diezani and others.
Meanwhile, the Al-Mushahid Initiative for Transparency and Accountability (AITA) has urged President Buhari to ignore the letter written to him by the AGF Malami, urging him to stop the legal battles against the principal actors in the controversial Malabu Oil deal.
President of AITA, Ambassador Aminu Abubakar Majidadi, who was reacting to a letter asking President Buhari to stop the prosecution of Diezani and Adoke over their roles in the controversial Malabu oil deal, said that everybody close to the president should encourage him to bring the prosecution to its logical end. Majidadi said it is untenable for anyone to ask the President to hands off this international case when everyone especially those working with this administration should be seen at the forefront of helping the President to achieve his anti-corruption war.
He said, “We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore this letter but should rather redouble the efforts at seeing this case to its logical conclusion in the interest of national development and honour. This should even be a yard-stick to tackle other dragging corruption cases.”
He also called for special anti-corruption tribunals to fast-track stolen fund recovery and successful prosecution of corruption cases.
In a related development, the strained relationship between the AGF Malami and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, deepened on Monday as Malami queried Magu over the criminal charge filed against the Chairman of Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Yakubu Umar.
The AGF also asked Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN) to explain his role over the two-count corruption charge filed before an Abuja High Court against the CCT Chairman.
In the query dated February 16, 2018, and with Reference No DPP/ADV: 368/15 signed by Mr Dayo Apata, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Magu has been asked to make his response available to the AGF on or before Tuesday (today).
Magu is asked to explain what informed the filing of corruption charges against the tribunal chairman after the EFCC had twice cleared Umar of the corruption allegation.
The query titled “FRN VS Danladi Umar (CR/109/18) request for Briefing” read thus: “The attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation was drawn to the news report that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed charges of corruption against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Hon. Justice Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.
“I am directed by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to seek clarification from you as to whether the charges were filed on your instruction or directive and if in the affirmative, what is the compelling basis for doing so. This clarification becomes imperative in view of the following background facts.
“The Commission’s investigation report dated 5th March 2015 addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation stated as follows: “The facts as they are now against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the defence.
“The Commission’s position in paragraph 2(a) above was also maintained and sustained by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation while appearing before the House of Representatives’ Investigative Committee sometimes in 2015 to the effect that report of investigations showed that the allegations against Hon. Justice Danladi Umar were based on mere suspicions.
“In view of the foregoing, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation requests for your prompt briefing as to the existence of new facts which are contrary to the position in your attached investigation report, sufficient evidence or other developments upon which the prosecution of Hon. Justice Danladi can be successfully based.
“Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response within 48 hours from the receipt of same is required in the circumstances.”
Also, in a separate letter to Keyamo (SAN), the AGF asked the lawyer who was purportedly engaged by Magu to prosecute the CCT boss to confirm who authorised him to file the corruption charge against Umar.
Keyamo was also given till Tuesday (today) to furnish the Office of the AGF in writing the detail of who engaged or issued him with authority to file the corruption charges.
The letter to Keyamo with reference No DPP/ADV: 369/15 dated February 16, 2018, which was also signed by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, reads in part:
“The attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation was drawn to the news report that you have filed charges of corruption against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Hon. Justice Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.
“The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation hereby requests that you kindly furnish this office with the details of the instruction or authorisation upon which you instituted the case under reference. Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response on or before Tuesday, February 20, 2018, is solicited in this regard.”
Although the EFCC had in two separate letters it sent to the Federal Government through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in 2015 and 2016 cleared Umar of any wrongdoing in an alleged N10 million bribery allegation by Rasheed Taiwo Owolabi who is standing trial at the tribunal over false asset declaration, the Commission went ahead and charged the tribunal chairman.
It is instructive to note that Umar’s clearance was done by the former Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde in a letter reference No EFCC/EC/SGF/03/56 dated March 5, 2015, which exonerated the CCT boss.
The letter stated that “the facts as they are against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the offence.”
While the other EFCC’s letter stated that a further investigation in 2016 on the N10m bribery revealed that it remained a mere suspicion.
The EFCC report received by the office of SGF on March 6, 2015, was categorical that “the facts as they are against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the offence.”
The EFCC’s second report with reference EFCC/P/HRU/688/V30/99 dated April 20, 2016, and submitted to the SGF and signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo, read in part: “Kindly recall our correspondence of March 5 2015 with Reference EFCC/EC/SGF/03/56 with above subject caption. We will like to reiterate the Commission’s position in regard to this matter as earlier communicated to you and state that the allegation levelled against Justice Umar were merely suspicions and consequently insufficient to prosecute the offence.”
The EFCC had on February 2, 2018, brought a two-count charge against the CCT Chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar, bordering on alleged receipt of N10m bribe from one Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo in the charge signed by Festus Keyamo as a private prosecuting counsel and one Offem Uket, an official of EFCC.
Umar was accused of receiving N1.8m through his Personal Assistant, Gambo Abdullahi, for a favour to be afterwards shown to the petitioner who was standing trial for a criminal offence before the tribunal.
Meanwhile, March 15 has been fixed for the arraignment of the CCT boss at the High Court of FCT, Abuja. (Daily Times)
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday traced N860m to the immediate past governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada; and a former acting governor of Taraba State, Sani Danladi.
While N500m was traced to Wada, N450m was traced to Danladi.
The money was said to be part of the N23bn allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, through the then Director of Finance of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Senator Nenadi Usman.
It was learnt that Wada arrived the EFCC office around 12pm and was still in custody around 9pm.
The spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that Wada was detained by the commission.
He said, “Yes, he was invited by the EFCC over N500m Diezani money. He is still in our custody.”
The Gombe zonal office also quizzed Danladi in respect of the N450m collected by him through Senators Joel Dallami Ikenya and Mark Useni during the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
Danladi, in his statement on oath, told interrogators that he chaired the eight-man committee that disbursed the money for Taraba State.
The EFCC stated, “He further stated that, he and the other members of the committee shared N36m among themselves while the balance of N414m was distributed to other stakeholders across the 16 local government areas of the state and one Development Area Council.”
Danladi was arrested and detained in Abuja last week and later released on bail to reliable sureties, but asked to report to the EFCC Gombe zonal office for further investigation.
Last week, the commission detained a former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, for his role in the disbursement of the Diezani sleaze.
It was learnt that at least 20 former ministers and governors who are members of the PDP may be detained by the commission
In the states which were ruled by the PDP, the governors were said to have taken possession of the funds while in states that had no PDP governors, the ministers handled the money.
They were alleged to have received a minimum of N450m each.
Some of the former governors and ministers that may be picked up soon include a former Minister of Power, Mohammed Wakil (Borno); and a former Minister of Science and Technology, Alhaji Abdu Bulama (Yobe).
Others are former governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State (now a member of the All Progressives Congress), the immediate past governor of Kebbi State, Saidu Dakin Garin; former governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State, former governor Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno State, former governor James Ngilari of Adamawa State; and a former governor of Zamfara State, Mamuda Shinkafi.
Sheriff allegedly received N40m from the N450m said to have been received by a former Minister of Power, Mohammed Wakil.
Also, a former deputy governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Imasuen, and a former Secretary to the State Government of Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, may be re-invited for allegedly collecting N700m from the Diezani fund.
The source said many of the PDP chieftains had promised to return some of the funds but had failed to do so and therefore had to be invited. (Punch)
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday struck out one of the nine counts of $1.6billion crude oil fraud filed against the businessman, Jide Omokore, and five others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This was a sequel to an application by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, who alleged that she was not accorded the opportunity to defend herself after being indicted in the particular count. Others facing trial for the alleged crime include Omokore, his two companies, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited. Others are a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, Victor Briggs; a former group executive director, exploration and production of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Abiye Membere and a former manager, planning and commercial of the NNPC, David Mbanefo.
The anti-graft agency had preferred nine counts of criminal diversion of about $1.6billion alleged to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government, against the six defendants.
Allison-Madueke, who was said to be currently in the United Kingdom facing some legal proceedings, was not listed among the existing six defendants in the case to defend the charge, but she was, together with Briggs, Membere and Mbanefo, in count eight, accused of aiding Omokore in the commission of money laundering offence.
The offence she and others were accused of was said to be contrary to section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.
But the former minister, through her lawyer, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), on September 18, 2017, filed an application seeking among other prayers, an order directing an amendment to the charges, by adding her name as the seventh defendant to enable her to defend herself with respect to the eighth count.
She also told the judge that she would be grossly prejudiced by a refusal of the application, which would further compound the gross violation of her constitutional rights.
Opposing the application, lawyer for the EFCC, Mr Aliyu Yusuf, urged the court to refuse Diezani’s application seeking to be joined as a defendant. He said that Diezani, who is on self-exile, is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police for several crimes and has been admitted to bail in the United Kingdom but cannot leave the country.
Yusuf said: “The applicant seeing that the investigations by the Metropolitan Police had reached the advanced stage and that trial in the instant charge before this honourable court is proceeding smoothly had designed the instant application to distract and scuttle both her investigation and imminent prosecution in the United Kingdom and the trial before this court.”
He also argued that Diezani knew she would not be able to leave the United Kingdom in view of the ongoing investigation and imminent prosecution. Therefore, she is seeking the order to amend the charge for her name to be included on the face of the charge in order “to escape from investigation and prosecution in the United Kingdom under the guise that she is coming to face her trial before this court and also scuttle the trial.”
In his ruling, Justice Dimgba ruled that the EFCC could not have its cake and eat it because by including Diezani’s name in count eight, the commission ought to make her one of the defendants.
“It looks like blackmail,” the judge said and added that the court had no option than to strike out count eight of the charge, where Diezani’s name was mentioned. He adjourned trial of the substantive matter till October 5 and 6, 2017. (The Sun)
How non-appearance and not making legal representations in court compounded her case
By OMONIYI SALAUDEEN and ONYEDIKA AGBEDO
Former minister of petroleum resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke is arguably facing the greatest travail of her life with allegations of monumental corruption against her by the Federal Government rapidly debasing her reputation. But she appears to have given up rather than put up a fight, a sort of total surrender to fate in the face of imminent destruction. And week in, week out lately, the Federal Government has secured court judgments against her either ordering interim or permanent forfeiture of her ‘hard-earned savings and property’ said to be proceeds of corruption. In the last one month alone, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the government’s anti-graft agency, has got at least three of such judgments against her.
Just last Monday, Justice Abdulazeez Anka of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered the permanent forfeiture of the sum of N7.6 billion suspected to belong to the former minister. Justice Anka gave the ruling sequel to an application filed by the EFCC seeking the final and permanent forfeiture of the said sum to the Federal Government.
The anti-graft agency had in its supporting affidavit averred that consequent upon the investigation carried out on the intelligence reports received by the commission, it discovered that the sum of N7.6 billion kept in the accounts of some banks were proceeds of unlawful activities.
The forfeited sum was allegedly laundered through former Group Managing Director, Crude Oil Marketing Division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Gbenga Olu Komolafe; former Group Managing Director, Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Prince Haruna Momoh; and Group Managing Director of Nigerian Products Marketing Company (NPMC), Umar Farouk Ahmed, on behalf of Deziani.
Justice Chuka Obiozor of another Federal High Court, Lagos, had on August 7, this year, ordered the temporary forfeiture of the monies following an ex-parte application argued before him by the EFCC.
Also on Wednesday, August 22, a Federal High Court in Lagos had ordered that 56 buildings linked to Diezani and her associates be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government. The buildings located in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Rivers States and valued at N3.320 billion, were alleged to be proceeds of corruption.
The court presided over by Justice Abdulaziz Anka gave the order while granting an ex-parte application filed and argued before the court by counsel to the EFCC, Mr Anselm Ozioko.
The properties ordered to be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government included 21 mixed housing units of eight numbers of four-bedroom penthouse apartments; six numbers of three-bedroom apartments; two numbers of three-bedroom apartments; and one number of a four-bedroom apartment, all en suite and located at 7 Thurnburn Street and 5 Raymond Street, Yaba, Lagos valued at N937 million.
Other properties included 16 numbers of four-bedroom terraces located at Heritage Court Estate, Omerelu Street, Diobu GRA, Port Harcourt, Rivers State valued at N928 million.
Also included in the property haul were 13 numbers of three-bedroom terraces, with one-room maid’s quarters, situated at Mabushi Gardens Estate, Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi, Abuja, valued at N650 million; and six flats of three bedrooms and one-room boy’s quarters, located at Plot 808 (135) Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, valued at N805 million.
Diezani had also on Monday, August 7, this year, lost a $37.5 million Banana Island mansion to the Federal Government. A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had ordered that the $37.5 million sky-scrapper on Banana Island, Lagos, belonging to her be finally forfeited to the Federal Government. The trial judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, also ordered that the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70 realised as rents on the property should equally be forfeited to the Federal Government. Justice Obiozor made the orders sequel to a motion on notice argued before him by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency had on July 19, 2017, obtained a court order to temporarily seize the property located at Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, which is said to have 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses.
As the judgments continued coming, the questions on many lips were: Where is Diezani? Where are her lawyers? Why is she just watching as the government keeps linking illicit funds and properties to her and seizing them through the courts? Would these judgments stand the test of time?
Although the former minister is known to be battling with ill health in the United Kingdom where she has been residing since the early days of the present administration, the fact that she has not made a legal representation in court amidst the allegations and forfeitures is already being interpreted as an admission of guilt and submission to government’s might by many observers. All that has come from her in the recent past was a statement where she denied ownership of $153.3 million recently forfeited to the Federal Government through an order of the Federal High Court, Lagos; and absolved herself of any wrong doing during her tenure as Minister of Petroleum Resources.
She said: “I am deeply disturbed and bewildered by recent media reports claiming that by virtue of an order of the Federal High Court, I have forfeited to the Federal Government the sum of $153.3 million, which I purportedly stole from the NNPC.
“Whilst the reasons for my being out of the country are public knowledge, the principle of fair hearing demands that I should have been notified of formal charges if truly there was a prima-facie evidence or indictment against my person linking me with the said issue, so as to ensure that I had adequate legal representation.
“This was never done. I wish to state that I cannot forfeit what was never mine. I do not know the basis on which the EFCC has chosen to say that I am the owner of these funds as no evidence was provided to me before the order was obtained and they have not, in fact, served me with the order or, any evidence since they obtained it. As of the time of my writing this rebuttal, the EFCC has still not furnished me or my lawyers with a copy of the order.”
Diezani further denied any involvement with the Malabu oil deal, saying it was not under the direct purview of the Petroleum Ministry when she was the minister.
“As Minister of Petroleum Resources, I did not participate in any activity relating to financial payments on the Malabu matter, other than those statutorily mandated to the minister of petroleum resources by the Petroleum Act. My role in this matter was a purely statutory one as required by law in the Petroleum Act,” she noted.
She added that “it is therefore sad and distressing that in spite of all that I tried to do in the best interest of our nation, I continue to be faced with constant demonisation, unproven accusations and deeply personal insults.”
To many analysts, the press statement does not equate for a legal defence in any way and as such, they believe that the former minister should have sought redress in the courts if she felt her rights and reputation were being trampled upon. And until she does that, the “constant demonisation, unproven accusations and deeply personal insults” against her might continue till the government becomes satisfied that Nigeria’s stolen funds allegedly in her custody have been substantially retrieved.
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, provides further insight into the issue in the interview below:
There is this public concern about the forfeiture of Diezani’s property by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).What is the propriety or otherwise of the seizure of her property without her appearance in court?
Who stops her from coming to court to defend herself? Who stops her from engaging a lawyer and briefing him to argue on her behalf? I think people who say that are either mentally retarded or simply corruption trying to fight back. Those who have such a monumental level of bad faith for this country, who hates Nigeria so much and would not even mind, if looters who stole billions upon billions of naira are allowed to get away with it are either themselves beneficiaries of corruption or they are mentally retarded because they don’t know what is good for themselves and for Nigeria. Why can’t Diezani engage a lawyer to represent her interest here? That is all she needs to do. Supply a lawyer with the facts; he will go to court and defend her property. We must disregard such people; they don’t mean well for the country.
What about the possibility of her turning around to challenge these seizures?
It is not possible. The only thing she can do is to go to the Court of Appeal. She can never challenge it. She had the opportunity to defend her property but she didn’t. We advertised for over two weeks, and she had the opportunity of engaging a lawyer to defend herself but she did not. What it means is that she cannot explain how she acquired the money because it is clearly Nigeria’s money.We all know it. Why are we pretending? Where will Diezani get 52 houses? What job does she do? Does NNPC money belong to her privately? Is NNPC not a Nigerian institution? Those who are pretending about it are beneficiaries of corruption. The best I can say about them is that they are mentally retarded. That is the most charitable thing I can say about it.
Isn’t it possible for the Federal Government to extradite her back to Nigeria to answers these charges?
Well, it is a possibility. But she has charges to answer also in England. For me, personally, I am not speaking for the government because that is not the priority for now. I think it is urgent to recover all assets that are stolen first so that we can make use of what belongs to us so that we can make use of what we have been deprived of. They have caused a huge level of unemployment for the youth; they have caused kidnapping and armed robbery with their reckless looting. It is the money they have stolen that has almost rendered this country bankrupt. So, let’s get our money back and restore the welfare and well-being of Nigerians. After we have done that or while we are doing that, we can go to prosecution side and prosecute them. For me, the priority is for us to recover assets that have been stolen.
You said she could go to the Appeal Court. What is she going to make out of it, if she chooses to do so?
She can appeal against the decision of High Court if she is so minded. If she loses at the Court of Appeal, she can go to the Supreme Court.
Must she necessarily be present in Nigeria for her to do that?
No, she doesn’t necessarily have to be present. It is a civil case. She can hire a lawyer to defend her. She doesn’t have to appear in court. (The Sun)
An operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Usman Zakari, yesterday, narrated before the Federal High Court, Lagos, how former Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, laundered $115 million, through three oil companies and two individuals.
Zakari was the EFCC second witness in the ongoing trial of former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Kwara State, Mr. Mohammed Dele Belgore and former Minister for National Planning, Dr. Abubakar Sulaiman, who are standing trial in the alleged N450 million fraud.
Belgore and Sulaiman are being re-arraigned before Justice Rilwan Aikawa on an amended five counts, wherein the name of the former Petroleum minister was mentioned in the charge.
According to the amended charge, on or about March 27, 2015, Alison-Madueke was accused of conspiring with Belgore and Sulaiman to directly take possession of N450 million, which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful act.
The two defendants were equally said to have taken the said funds in cash, which exceeded the amount authorised by law, without going through any financial institution.
They were also accused of paying N50 million to one Sheriff Shagaya, without going through financial institutions. (The Sun)
The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered the forfeiture of $153million allegedly belonging to former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke to the Federal Government.
The Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said the money was laundered for the former minster.
Justice Muslim Hassan held that the money was a product of unlawful activity.
The judge ordered the forfeiture of unclaimed N23.4billion, $5million as well as $40million (the naira equivalent of which is N9.08billion).
EFCC said the laundered money was $153million, some of which was converted to naira.
“I am satisfied that all the conditions in Section 17 (1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act have been met,” the judge held.
The section makes a property that is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful act forfeitable to the Federal Government.
Justice Hassan had on January 6 ordered the temporary forfeiture of the money stashed in various banks.
While the N23.4billion and $5million were unclaimed, a bank chief, Dauda Lawal, claimed the $40million (which was worth N9.08billion, when it was forfeited to the EFCC).
Lawal had accused EFCC of falsifying the circumstances under which he surrendered the N9.08billion.
He denied ever being in possession of properties suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity held or laundered on behalf of Mrs Alison-Madueke.
Lawal said following his arrest on May 9, 2016, he cooperated with the EFCC and made a full admission to having received $25million.
“Having provided evidence to the EFCC of how the $25million so obtained had been disbursed, I was still made to agree to surrender to the EFCC an additional sum of N9.08billion being the naira equivalent of $40million at the rate of N227 to $1,” he said.
On how he got the money, Lawal said he received a call from a personal friend, Stanley Lawson, around March 2015 to help collect $25million from someone in Lagos, which he subsequently paid into an account provided for him.
”I had no idea of the origin of the said funds and only acted in the course of normal banking business,” he said.
But, Justice Hassan held that the evidence before him showed that Lawal surrendered the money to the EFCC voluntarily.
“He was duly cautioned. He signed. He made the statement in the presence of his counsel, who endorsed it. I hold that the statement was made voluntarily.
“There is no evidence that he borrowed the money from friends. How he borrowed the money was not disclosed,” the judge held.
After ordering the final forfeiture of the unclaimed N23.4billion and $5million, he said: “In respect of the second respondent, learned counsel informed the court that the second respondent filed a counter affidavit on why the sum of N9.08 billion should not be forfeited.
“I have carefully examined the affidavit evidence before the court and I find that the second respondent was duly cautioned in English language before his statement was taken and so, I hold that same was taken without any evidence of inducement.
“On the whole I am satisfied that all the conditions stated in Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Related offences Act was duly fulfilled by the applicant.
“I accordingly make the following orders: An order for the final forfeiture of the sum of N23,426,300,000 and USD$5million being unclaimed property to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“An order of final forfeiture is made to the Federal Government of Nigeria the sum of N9,080,000,000 recovered from the second respondent being proceed unlawful activity,” the judge held.
Before the judgment, Lawal’s lawyer, Charles Adeogun-Phillips, had informed the court of an application for leave to file further affidavits to his counter-affidavit.
He also said parties were exploring means of reaching amicable settlement out of court.
Adeogun-Phillips said he wanted to supply fresh evidence in a further affidavit as to how his client raised the money he forfeited to the EFCC.
“The issues are material to the disposition of this case, because he did not provide details of where he borrowed the money from,” he said.
EFCC lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo, who claimed he was not aware of any discussions to settle the case out of court, opposed Adeogun-Phillips’ application, saying it was a bid to arrest the judgment.
Justice Hassan refused the application, saying it was an “after-thought” and a “booby trap”.
He held that no convincing reason was adduced as to why the evidence was not supplied earlier.
“This fresh evidence, in my view, is an afterthought and is intended to overreach the prosecution and cause injustice.
“The instant application is unmeritorious and is hereby dismissed,” Justice Hassan held. (The Nation)
Commission moves to seize ex-minister’s posh estate
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives have questioned two former Group Managing Directors (GMDs) and three former Executive Directors (EDs) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over their roles in the transfer of $153m to some banks.
The cash was wired from NNPC’s account to the banks on the directive of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke whose multi-billion naira estate the EFCC plans to seize.
One of the former executive directors is said to have admitted playing a role in the transfer of the money, which belongs to the corporation.
An EFCC source confirmed that the five ex-officials and a few others had been quizzed in connection with the transfer of the funds. He declined to name the former officials, saying it could jeopardise the probe.
“We are however not stopping at this bend because we discovered that some of these officials were used for many illicit transactions,” the source said, adding:
“By the time we extend our investigation to crude oil lifting, you will appreciate the sleaze during the tenure of Diezani as minister of Petroleum Resources. A syndicate was used to perpetrate the fraud in the oil firm.”
An NNPC source confirmed the interrogation of the former officials.
The source said: “This corporation is following the development. The EFCC is on top of the $153million palaver; it has actually been inviting some of our past officials for questioning.
“The good thing is that some of these former officials are still on NNPC’s pension roll. They can be recalled at any time for clarification of some issues.
The source declined to name those quizzed by EFCC, saying he would need to check with the administration and security departments.
The source said NNPC could not react to the ruling of a Federal High Court on the $153million without “getting necessary legal advice”.
“Our board is meeting on the $153million saga and other matters on January 30. What we are doing now is to get the proceedings of the Federal High Court of Friday. We have a very articulate Legal Department which will study it.
“NNPC is a corporation with a board and a chairman. The legal advice will determine our next step after the board’s meeting.
“If the court indicts any former officials, the corporation can still exercise disciplinary control on them.”
The EFCC has started the process of seizing a sprawling estate in Yenagoa, which was traced to Mrs Alison-Madueke.
The asset will be placed on temporary forfeiture pending the arraignment and trial of the ex-minister either in Nigeria or in the United Kingdom.
A source in the commission said: “Since we recorded the breakthrough, our legal unit has been working round the clock on how to seek the nod of the court for a temporary forfeiture order.
“We have obtained relevant data from Bayelsa State Geographic Information System. As a matter of fact, the estate is coded as BGIS/OK/02/16/310 by the agency.
“We will file the required application for the seizure of the estate pending the arraignment and the conclusion of the trial of the ex-Minister. This is a standard benchmark allowed by the law. We are certainly heading for the court.”
Sections 26 and 29 of the EFCC Act read in part: “Any property subject to forfeiture under this Act may be seized by the commission in the following circumstances- (a) the seizure is incidental to an arrest or search; or (b) in the case of property liable to forfeiture upon process issued by the Court following an application made by the Commission in accordance with the prescribed rules.
“Whenever property is seized under any of the provisions of this Act, the commission may-(a) place the property under seal; or (b) remove the property to a place designated by the Commission.
“Properties taken or detained under this section shall be deemed to be in custody of the Commission, subject only to an order of a Court.”
Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 empower the anti-graft agency to invoke Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause.
“Section 28 of the EFCC Act reads: ‘Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.’
Section 13 of the Federal High Court Act reads in part : “The Court may grant an injunction or appoint a receiver by an interlocutory order in all cases in which it appears to the Court to be just or convenient so to do.
(2) “Any such order may be made either unconditionally or on such terms and conditions as the Court thinks just.” (The Nation)
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)
A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, allegedly diverted $153,310,000 (about N46.6billion) from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has alleged.
The commission, in a bid to recover the money, applied to the Federal High Court for its temporary forfeiture.
Justice Muslim Hassan, before whom the application was brought, on Friday ordered the temporary forfeiture of the money.