Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sum of $153,310,000, which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueze, allegedly syphoned from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and stashed in three banks in the country.
Out of the allegedly stolen $153.3m, a sum of N23,446, 300,000 was kept in Sterling Bank Plc, N9,080,000,000 in First Bank Plc and $5m in Access Bank Plc.
After ordering the temporary forfeiture of the monies to the Federal Government on Friday, Justice Hassan 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.
The judge made the order in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which appeared before him on Friday with an ex parte application seeking the temporary forfeiture of the funds.
In a nine-paragraph affidavit filed in support of the ex parte application, an EFCC investigator, Moses Awolusi, claimed that the anti-graft agency discovered through its investigations how sometime in December 2014 Diezani invited a former Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo, to her office where they hatched the plan of how a cash sum of $153,310,000 would be moved from NNPC to Okonkwo to be saved for Diezani.
According to Awolusi, Diezani instructed Okonkwo to ensure that the money was “neither credited into any known account nor captured in any transaction platforms” of Fidelity Bank.