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Former GM tells court how Diezani doled out $70m NNPC fund for 2015 election

Michael Ojo

A former Group General Manager at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(names withheld) narrated before a Federal High Court, Lagos on Thursday, how sometime in 2015, he delivered 12 padlocked bags containing $70m to an Abuja-based banker on the instructions of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The ex-NNPC GM appeared as a prosecution witness in the trial of a former Executive Director, First Bank, Dauda Lawal, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) on money laundering charges.

The EFCC accused Lawal of handling $25m out of a total of $153m, which Diezani allegedly doled out to influence the 2015 general elections.

The trial opened on Thursday before Justice Muslim Hassan, with the ex-NNPC GM appearing as the first prosecution witness.

Led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness narrated how he delivered the cash-loaded bags to the Abuja banker, one Charles, in the front of Dume Supermarket in Abuja.

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 Mninster of Petroleum Resources, Mrs  Diezani Alison-Madueke, gave me a GSM number in respect of one Charles, whom I had never met, with a clear instruction that I should convey 12 padlocked bags to the said Charles.

“My Lord, the source, the content and the purpose of the bags were not disclosed to me. Thereafter, I called the said Charles, who equally confirmed to me that he had been briefed about the message. I delivered the bags to Charles.

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“Much later, My Lord, the EFCC invited me for interrogation on the issue and I made a statement to that effect. Charles equally confirmed at the EFCC that he received the 12 padlocked bags and the bags contained the sum of $70m.”

When asked by the prosecutor 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 by the defence counsel, Patrick Ikwueto (SAN), the witness said he had never met Lawal before.

Justice Hassan adjourned till 21, 22 and 23 of July for continuation of trial.

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