‘How $70 million was delivered to banker on Diezani’s instruction’
A former Group General Manager of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in charge of Crude Oil Marketing, Gbenga Olu Komolafe has narrated to a Federal High Court, Lagos, how he delivered 12-padlocked bags containing $70 million to an Abuja-based banker on the instructions of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Komolafe narrated this in his testimony before Justice Muslim Hassan in the ongoing trial of a former Executive Director, First Bank Plc, Dauda Lawal who was alleged of money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The former bank boss was accused of handling $25 million out of a total of $153 million, which Mrs. Alison-Madueke allegedly doled out to influence the 2015 general elections.
However, the ex-NNPC GM in his evidence led by the EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, said he personally delivered the cash-loaded bags to an Abuja banker, one Charles, in the front of Dume Supermarket in Abuja.
The EFCC 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 an undisclosed briefing of activities of their departments to the minister. At the end of such briefings, the then Minister 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.
“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 $70 million.
When the prosecution counsel asked him 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 defendant counsel, Patrick Ikwueto (SAN), Komolafe told the court he had never met Lawal before.
The judge subsequently adjourned further hearing to July 21, 2020.
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