A former group general manager at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has told the Federal High Court in Lagos that former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, asked him to deliver $70m cash to an Abuja based banker.
The ex-NNPC GM appeared as a prosecution witness in the trial of a former executive director, First Bank, Dauda Lawal, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on money laundering charges.
The EFCC 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 on Thursday before Justice Muslim Hassan, with the ex-NNPC GM appearing as the first prosecution witness.
Being 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.
He recalled that at the end of one of such briefings, Diezani gave him the phone number of a banker he had never met, “with a clear instruction that I should convey 12 padlocked bags to him”.
“The source, the content and the purpose of the bags were not disclosed to me. Thereafter, I called the banker who equally confirmed to me that he had been briefed about the message. I delivered the bags to him.”
The ex-GGM added that much later, the EFCC invited him for interrogation on the issue and he made a statement to that effect.
Asked by Oyedepo 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.”
During cross-examination by defence counsel, Patrick Ikwueto, SAN, the witness said he had never met Dauda Lawal before.
Justice Hassan adjourned the matter to July 21, 22 and 23, 2020 for the continuation of trial.
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