A 14 count charge filed against Diezani Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum under Goodluck Jonathan’s administration by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been withdrawn.
Naija News reports that the EFCC filed the charges against the Ex-Jonathan’s minister along with Ben Otti, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Stanley Lawson, Lanre Adesanya, and Dauda Lawal, all of them former officials of commercial banks and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
A report monitored on Daily Trust by Naija News, said that at the resumed hearing of the matter before Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial city, on November 5, 2019, the EFCC through its lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, dropped the corruption charges against most of the accused persons through an amended four-count charge.
The report said the amended charges which border on money laundering only seeks to prosecute a former Executive Director of First Bank PLC, Dauda Lawal alongside Diezani Madueke and Ben Otti who served as Group Executive Director of finance at the NNPC.
This online news platform understands that the former Jonathan’s minister and Ben Otti have both been at large since the beginning of the matter which was first filed in Court on 28th November 2018.
Similarly, the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo; Stanley Lawson, a former Group Executive Director Finance NNPC and Lanre Adesanya, an Executive Director at Sterling Bank all did not make any appearance in court and have not been arraigned.
However, in a twist at the resumed hearing of the matter on 5th November 2019 almost one year after the charges were filed, a source close to Dauda Lawal, who noted that the former Executive Director First Bank did not fail to appear in court in all adjourned dates of the matter were shocked that all other accused persons have been exonerated, Daily Trust reports.
The report said the anti-graft agency had in the 14 count charges accused the bank executives and the NNPC officials of conspiring to conceal $153 million in Fidelity bank which they ought to have known were proceed of corruption punishable under the Money Laundering Act.
According to Daily Trust, the EFCC discovered that $153m was deposited in 2015, being collection from oil companies allegedly to fund the presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan.
It was learned that the matter was investigated by the anti-graft agency and the bankers were alleged to have conspired with Madueke and other NNPC officials to conceal and distribute parts of the fund.
Meanwhile, Lawal then Executive Director of First bank is being accused of assisting Madueke to purchase a property known as Merdien Hotel Ogeyi Palace in Port Harcourt when he received $25m from Fidelity Bank and deposited the same amount with Sterling Bank allegedly on the instruction of Stanley Lawson.
A source familiar with the First Bank transaction told Daily Trust that it is curious how the banker who had no contact with Madueke and was only acting on the instruction of a customer can be charged for conspiracy, while those who were alleged to be directly linked to the funds have been exonerated.
At the time of filing this report, the EFCC was yet to issue a statement regarding the corruption charges dropped against the Ex-Jonathan’s minister as the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said when contacted that he was not aware of the matter.