A federal court in Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture of N23.4
billion, N9.08 billion, and $5 million (about N34 billion in total)
linked to former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Justice Muslim Hassan, who had issued an interim forfeiture order
on the funds on January 6, on Thursday gave a “final forfeiture
order” on the funds.
The judge said he was satisfied with the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission’s argument that the monies were proceeds of
The seized money, according to the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission, was stolen from the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation and stashed in three banks in Nigeria, in US
dollars and Naira.
Out of the loot, N23.4 billion was kept in Sterling Bank Plc. The
sum of N9.08 billion was kept in First Bank Plc and $5m in Access
Justice Muslim Hassan, who gave the order, gave Sterling Bank
and any other interested party 14 days to appear before him to
prove the legitimacy of the monies, failing which the funds would
be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The banks or any of its customer failed to convince the court on the
legitimacy of the funds.
The judge made the order on January 6 in favour of the EFCC
which appeared before him with an ex parte application seeking
temporary forfeiture of the funds.
In a nine-paragraph affidavit by by EFCC investigator, Moses
Awolusi, and filed in support of the ex parte application, the anti-
graft agency said it discovered how sometime in December 2014
the former minister invited a former Managing Director of Fidelity
Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo, to her office.
There they hatched the plan to move $153,310,000 from the NNPC to Mr. Okonkwo for Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke, according to Mr. Awolusi, instructed Mr.
Okonkwo to ensure that the money was “neither credited into any
known account nor captured in any transaction platforms” of
Mr. Okonkwo accepted and implemented the deal leading to the
movement of $153,310,000 from the NNPC to Fidelity Bank.
He said that two former Group Executive Directors of Finance and
Account of NNPC, B.O.N. Otti and Stanley Lawson, helped Mrs.
Alison-Madueke to move the cash from NNPC, Abuja, to the
headquarters of Fidelity Bank in Lagos.
Mr. Awolusi said in a desperate bid to conceal the source of the
money, Mr. Okonkwo, upon receiving it, 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.
He said the remaining $40 million was taken in cash to an
executive director, [Public Sector Account], First Bank, to keep.
The investigator said out of the $113,310,000 handed over to Mr.
Adesanya, $108,310,000 was invested in an off balance sheet
investment using Sterling Asset Management Trustees Limited.
The money was subsequently converted into N23.4 billion and
saved in Sterling Bank.
Mr. Awolusi said the EFCC had recovered the N23.4 billion in draft
and had registered it as an exhibit marked, EFCC 01.
The investigator said the EFCC had also recovered another $5
million out of the money kept with the Managing Director of
Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe.
He said the $5 million was recovered in draft and had been
registered as an exhibit marked, EFCC 02.
According to him, First Bank’s Director, had similarly converted
the $40m kept with him to N9,080,000,000.
Mr. Awolusi, however, said the EFCC recovered that also in draft
and registered it as Exhibit EFCC 03.
Moving the ex parte application on January 6, EFCC lawyer, Rotimi
Oyedepo, urged Justice Hassan to order the temporary forfeiture
of the funds to the Federal Government and to order Sterling Bank
and a First Bank director, who were joined as defendants in the
application, as well as any other interested parties, to appear in
court within two weeks to show cause why the funds should not be
permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Mr. Oyedepo, who said the application was brought pursuant to
Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences
Act No. 14, 2006 and Section 44(2)(‘) of the 1999 Constitution,
said granting the application was in the best interest of justice.
Justice Hassan granted the order and adjourned till January 24,
2016 for the respondents to appear in court to show cause why the
funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal
Government of Nigeria.
The respondents failed to show up to make legitimate claims to