First Bank Executive Director Says EFCC Coerced Him To Remit $40 Million
First Bank Executive Director Says EFCC Coerced Him To Remit $40 Million :-
Dauda Lawal, an Executive Director of First Bank Plc., has accused the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) of coercing him to return $40 million alleged to be the proceeds of a crime linked to former Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Mr. Dauda, through his lawyer Charles Adeogun, requested the court to order a refund of the sum under temporal forfeiture, stating that the EFCC misrepresented the document placed before Justice Muslim Hassan to obtain the order.
According to the counter affidavit deposed to by the First Bank boss, he said, “That in making an application for a forfeiture order before the Federal High Court, the EFCC deliberately suppressed the material facts, despite the fact that such facts were at their disposal, as they were contained in the statement they obtained from me between 9 and 20 May, 2016 and which still remain in their custody to this day.”
Mr. Adeogun claimed that for money to be forfeited to the federal government, the money must either be the proceeds of a crime or abandoned.
“Two essential elements must be satisfied, which are whether the money in question is unclaimed or the funds are proceeds of an unlawful act,” he said.
Arguing further, Mr. Adeogun said, “We received $25 million from the MD of Fidelity Bank under the instruction of Stanley Lawson, who is former Group Executive Director of Finance and Account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the money has been given to Lanre Adesanya, Executive Director, Commercial and Institutional Bank, Sterling Bank Plc. This was done in clear dispensation of his duties, but the EFCC insisted that he collected a total of $65 million.”
He pleaded for the release of the $40 million frozen by the EFCC.
Rotimi Oyedepo, the prosecuting counsel, argued that section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, makes a property that is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime forfeitable to the government.
“Can it be said that the sum of N9.08 billion, which is the naira equivalent of $40 million, was not reasonably suspected to form proceeds of a crime? Mr. Dauda and others agreed to retain and launder funds on behalf of the former Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Alison-Madueke. It will amount to a contest of the obvious to argue that the second respondent did not have knowledge of the money.”
Making a further submission, Mr. Oyedepo asserted that the EFCC could not have somebody in custody in perpetuity without the order of court, which the agency received through a magistrate court. He added that the anti-graft agency acted in compliance with constitutional provisions.
Mr. Rotimi urged the court to order final forfeiture of the said money.
“The respondent was duly cautioned before he voluntarily made his statement at the commission, and his lawyer even appended his signature, further attesting to the fact that the statements were obtained voluntarily,” he said.
“So having freely volunteered a statement, he cannot urge my lord not to attach full probative value to his statement. I submit that the appropriate order in the circumstance is for the court to order a final forfeiture of the sum of N9.08 billion already surrendered by the respondent to the Federal government.”