How Diezani removed $70m from NNPC coffers – Witness

Deziani Alison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum

A first prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of  Dauda Lawal,  Executive Director, First Bank Plc,  has told  Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how he delivered 12 padlocked bags containing $70m to an Abuja-based banker on the instruction of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The witness, a former Group General Manager, GGM, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, gave the testimony before Justice Hassan on Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

Lawal is facing trial for allegedly handling the sum of $25m, out of a total of $153m doled out by Diezani in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

At the resumed sitting on Wednesday, the witness told the court how he delivered some bags loaded with cash to an Abuja-based  banker, before Dume Supermarket in Abuja.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness  said: “ My Lord, as I can remember, shortly before the 2015 elections, it was the norm for heads of subsidiaries of the NNPC to be invited for undisclosed briefing of activities of their departments to the minister.

“At the end of such briefings, the then Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, gave me a GSM number in respect of one banker, whom I had never met, with a clear instruction that I should convey 12 padlocked bags to him.

“The source, the content and the purpose of the bags were not disclosed to me.

“Thereafter, I called the banker who equally confirmed to me that he had been briefed about the message.

I delivered the bags to him.”

Giving further evidence, the witness said: “Much later, the EFCC invited me for interrogation on the issue and I made a statement to that effect.

The  banker equally confirmed at the EFCC that he received the 12 padlocked bags and the bags contained the sum of $70m.”

When asked by Oyedepo to describe the kind of relationship he and others had with Diezani, the witness  said: “We had a command-and-obey relationship and also took an oath of office to obey directives and authority.”

 Under cross-examination at Wednesday’s sitting,  by defence counsel, Patrick Ikwueto, SAN , the witness said he had never met Dauda Lawal before.

 Justice Hassan adjourned the matter to July 21, 22 and 23, 2020 for continuation of trial.