The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday withdrew a 14-count charge filed against the fomer minister of petroleum resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and five other officials of commercial banks and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NPC).
They are Messrs Ben Otti, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Stanley Lawson, Lanre Adesanya, and Dauda Lawal.
Daily Trust reports that the charges are related to alleged concealment of N153 million by the minister in connivance with some bank chief executives.
It was gathered that at the resumed hearing of the matter before Justice Muslim Hassan of a Federal High Court Lagos on 5th November 2019, EFCC through its lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo dropped the corruption charges against most of the accused persons through an amended four-count charge.
The amended charges which border on money laundering only seeks to prosecute a former executive director of First Bank PLC, Lawal alongside Alison-Madueke and Otti who served as group executive director of finance at the NNPC.
Alison-Madueke and Otti have both been at large since the beginning of the matter which was filed first in Court on November 28. 2018.
Also, Okonkwo, managing director of Fidelity Bank, Lawson, a former group executive director finance NNPC and Adesanya, an executive director at Sterling Bank did appear in court and had not been arraigned.
However, in a twist at the resumed hearing of the matter on November 5, 2019, a source close to Lawal, who noted that the former First Bank executive director did not fail to appear in court in all adjourned dates of the matter, were shocked to find that all the other accused persons had been exonerated.
The EFCC had in the 14 count charges accused the bank executives and the NNPC officials of conspiring to conceal $153 million which they ought to have known were proceed of corruption punishable under the Money Laundering Act.
The EFCC had in the 14 count-charge accused the bank executives and the NNPC officials of conspiring to conceal $153 million in Fidelity bank, which they ought to have known were proceeds of corruption punishable under the Money Laundering Act.
In 2015, the EFCC discovered that $153, being money collected from oil companies, was concealed allegedly to fund the presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
The matter was investigated by the EFCC and the bankers were alleged to have conspired with Diezani and other NNPC officials to conceal and distribute parts of the fund.
Lawal who was an executive director of First bank, was accused of assisting Alison-Madueke to purchase a property, Merdien Hotel Ogeyi Palace in Port Harcourt, when he received $25 million which he deposited with Sterling Bank, allegedly on Lawson’s order.