A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered final forfeiture of N7.6 billion allegedly recovered from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke to the Federal Government.
The presiding judge, Justice Abdulazeez Anka granted an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the final forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.
In his ruling, Justice Anka stated that “I have read the motion on notice seeking the final forfeiture of the sum of N7.6 billion reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.
“I have also gone through the affidavit in support of the application. In the circumstances, I am of the view that the application has merit and is hereby granted as prayed. Parties have a right of appeal.”
Moving the application, the EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, said the money was part of “huge sums of cash” allegedly diverted by Alison-Madueke from the various subsidiaries of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
According to him, it was fraudulently converted from NNPC by Mrs Deziani Alison-Madueke.
Oyedepo added that the anti-graft agency published an advertorial after the court ordered the money’s temporary forfeiture, but no one came forward to claim ownership.
In a supporting affidavit to the application, an EFCC investigator, Mr Usman Zakari, said he was part of a team of operatives who investigated an intelligence report that huge sums were laundered by Alison-Madueke.
He said the N7.6billion was allegedly looted through former Group Managing Director, Crude Oil Marketing Department, Gbenga Olu Komolafe and former Group Managing Director, Petroleum Products Management Company (PPMC), Prince Haruna Momoh.
Others listed include, former Group Managing Director, Nigerian Products Marketing Company (NPMC), Umar Farouk Ahmed, Stanley Lawson, Babajide Sonoiki and some bank chiefs on behalf of Mrs Alison-Madueke.
Zakari said Mrs Alison-Madueke called a bank chief to her office for a meeting where she informed him that some officials of her ministry would be bringing funds to his bank.
She allegedly directed that the “funds must neither be credited into any known account not captured in any transactional platforms of the bank.”
The investigator added: “In carrying out this alleged scheme of fraud, the sum of $153.3million was moved from NNPC through Mr B.O.N Otti and Mr D. Stanley Lawson, both former Group Executive Directors, Finance and Account of the NNPC” to the bank.
He said using the same fraudulent scheme, another $45million was also conveyed to the bank.
He said the money was conveyed in cash from Abuja to the bank’s headquarters in Lagos, while $113.3 million was taken out of it and moved to another bank in a bid to conceal its illicit source.
The investigator said the remaining $40 million was further conveyed in cash to a bank by Mr Dauda Lawal.
Zakari said $108.3 million was taken from the $113.3 million and was further disguised and invested in an off balance sheet investment using an asset management company owned by the bank as a special purpose vehicle.
He said the remaining $5 million was conveyed in cash to another bank’s Managing Director “for sake keeping”.
The sum in the asset management company was allegedly converted to N23.4 billion which EFCC said it recovered in drafts from the bank.
It also recovered the $5 million held by the bank MD.
The operative said the $40 million conveyed in cash to Lawal was subsequently converted to N9billion and retained by him.
Zakari said cash sums of N23.44 billion $5 million and N9 billion were forfeited to the Federal Government on February 16 following an order by Justice Muslim Hassan of the same court.
According to him, the $45 million was converted to naira by the bank in a bid to conceal and disguise its illicit origin.
He said EFCC received N7.6 billion in draft from the bank.
He recalled that the court on Aug. 9 granted an interim order of forfeiture of the money and directed EFCC to publish the order in national newspapers to enable any person interested in it to appear in court and show cause why it should not be forfeited permanently to the Federal Government.
“The applicant has complied with the order of this court by publishing the said order on Aug. 16; it is in the interest of justice to grant this application,” Zakari said.