By Robert Egbe
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has heard that a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke in 2015 ordered the removal of $70million from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in 12 padlocked bags.
A former NNPC official told Justice Muslim Hassan that he delivered the bags to an Abuja-based banker on Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s instructions.
He testified that he and others “had a command-and-obey relationship and also took an oath of office to obey directives and authority.”
The ex-NNPC GM appeared as a prosecution witness in the trial of a former Executive Director of a first generation bank, Dauda Lawal.
Lawal is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged money laundering of N928000000
The Commission 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 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 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 $70m.”
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.