Crime

Ex Bank director says Forfeited N9.08bn linked to Diezani belongs to him

A former bank director, Dauda Lawal, has asked the Court of Appeal in Lagos to order the Federal Government to return to him the N9.08 billion he forfeited to it on February 16, 2017.

Lawal said the Federal High Court, Lagos, which ordered the forfeiture of the money had no jurisdiction to do so.

According to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the N9.08 billion was part of the forfeited N23.4 billion and $5 million (about N34 billion in total) linked to former Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the ex-minister and several accomplices allegedly stole the money from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and stashed in three banks.

Justice Muslim Hassan, on February 16, 2017, ordered the final forfeiture of the funds after no one showed up to make legitimate claims to the funds.

The judge said he was satisfied with the EFCC’s argument that the money was from the proceeds of illegal activity.

Lawal is the sole applicant in the appeal, while the EFCC is the respondent.

The applicant was represented by his counsel, P. I. N. Ikwueto (SAN), while Kufre Uduak represented the EFCC.

When the matter came up for mention on September 29, the court adjourned further proceedings, after informing both parties that a date for hearing would be communicated to them.

In his notice of appeal, Lawal contended that the judge erred in law.

He is seeking four reliefs, including:

“An order to set aside the judgment, dated February 16, 2017, for being without jurisdiction and thereby a nullity.

“An order setting aside the forfeiture of N9,080,000,000, which the respondent (EFCC) obtained from the appellant while the appellant was under the detention of the respondent (EFCC).

“An order returning N9,080,000,000 to the appellant.”

In his March 29 affidavit in support of his application, Lawal averred that the forfeited N9.08 billion was not found in his possession, as required by Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act.

According to him, the money was borrowed on his behalf by family/friends whilst he was in EFCC custody and given to the government.

He also averred that his failure to appeal within time was due to his “apprehension that if he challenged the judgment, dated February 16, 2017, whilst the investigation was ongoing, the appellant would be further detained by the EFCC.

“The appellant has now been charged along with others following the conclusion of the investigation by the EFCC.”

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