The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to arraign Nnamdi Okonkwo, Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, and Dauda Lawal, First Bank’s Executive Director, for allegedly helping a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, to conceal a total of $153.3million in Fidelity Bank in 2015.
Okonkwo and Lawal, alongside Lanre Adesanya and Stanley Lawson, have been charged before the Federal High Court in Lagos. Their arraignment, which was originally scheduled for Monday before Justice Muslim Hassan, has been adjourned till December 17, 2018.
On Monday, the prosecuting counsel for EFCC, Wahab Shittu, sought an adjournment to serve the charge sheet on Okonkwo and Adesanya. Lawal’s lawyer, Hassan Liman (SAN), told the judge that his client had been in the custody of the EFCC since November 29. He prayed the court to admit him to bail.
However, Justice Hassan, in a bench ruling, said he lacked jurisdiction to grant Liman’s request as the defendants were yet to be arraigned. While adjourning till December 17 for arraignment, Justice Hassan directed that Lawal should be taken back to the custody of the EFCC.
In the charge sheet marked FHC/4419c/18, the EFCC accused Okonkwo and Lawson of conspiring with Diezani, said to be at large, and a former Group Executive Director of Finance and Accounts, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ben Otti, also at large, “to conceal in Fidelity Bank Plc, a total of $153,310,000”.
The anti-graft agency claimed that the defendants ought to have reasonably known that the money “formed parts of proceeds of unlawful activity: to wit: corruption”. It said the defendants committed the offence sometime in 2015, adding that they breached sections 18(a) and 15(2)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, as amended, and were liable to be punished under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
In count three, Okonkwo, Lawal, Adesanya, Lawson and the allegedly fleeing Otti, were accused of “aiding the use of about $25m for the acquisition of a property known as Meridien Ogeyi Place Hotel, located at Tambia Street, GRA Phase 2, Port Harcourt”.
According to the charge, the EFCC said the defendants ought to have reasonably known that the $25m “formed part proceeds of the corruption perpetrated by Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke whilst serving as the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources and Ben Otti, who was then the Group Executive Director of Finance and Account, NNPC”.
The EFCC claimed that on May 13, 2015 Okonkwo “procured Dauda Lawal (First Bank ED) to take possession of $65million” out of the $153.3million allegedly concealed in Fidelity Bank by Diezani.
Okonkwo, Lawson, Adesanya and Diezani were alleged to have on April 20, 2015 “procured one Adewale Fayemi to take possession of a total of $8.31million”.
The same Adewale Fayemi was allegedly “procured” to take possession of another $80million on May 29, 2015, which was Democracy Day, when ex-President Goodluck Jonathan handed over power to President Muhammadu Buhari, and Diezani left office as petroleum minister.