A federal high court in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of $153.3 million belonging to the former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The order was following an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The anti-graft agency alleges that the said amount was stolen from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and stashed in three banks in Nigeria, in US dollars and Naira.
A breakdown of the money shows that N23.4 billion was kept in Sterling Bank Plc; N9.08 billion in First Bank Plc and $5m in Access Bank Plc.
Justice Muslim Hassan, also ordered Sterling Bank and any other interested party to appear before him within the next 14 days to provide reasons why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
According to an affidavit by Moses Awolusi, an EFCC investigator, the anti-graft agency uncovered during its investigations how the former minister in connivance with the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo, connived to move $153,310,000 from NNPC to Okonkwo for Alison-Madueke.
Awolusi in the affidavit stated that the former oil minister directed Okonkwo to ensure that the money was “neither credited into any known account nor captured in any transaction platforms” of Fidelity Bank.
He added that two former Group Executive Directors of Finance and Account of NNPC, B.O.N. Otti and Stanley Lawson, also aided Alison-Madueke to move the cash from NNPC, Abuja, to the headquarters of Fidelity Bank in Lagos.
In a bid to conceal the source of the money, Okonkwo instructed the Country Head of Fidelity Bank, 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.
The EFCC investigator stated that the remaining $40 million was taken in cash to the Executive Director, Public Sector Accountant, First Bank, Dauda Lawal, to keep.
According to him, out of the $113,310,000 handed over to Adesanya, $108,310,000 was invested in an off balance sheet investment using Sterling Asset Management Trustees Limited, and was subsequently converted into N23.4 billion and saved in Sterling Bank.
Awolusi said the EFCC had recovered the N23.4 billion in draft and had registered it as an exhibit marked, EFCC 01; while another $5 million out of the money kept with the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, was recovered in draft and had been registered as an exhibit marked, EFCC 02.
He further stated that First Bank’s Executive Director, Mr. Lawal had similarly converted the $40m kept with him to N9,080,000,000, but the money had also been recovered that in draft and registered as Exhibit EFCC 03.
Counsel to EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed the trial judge to order the temporary forfeiture of the funds to the Federal Government while the other defendants joined in the case should be summoned to explain the source.
Justice Hassan granted the order and adjourned till January 24, 2016.