Ex-banker facing $153m Diezani loot trial testifies against Magu

Lawal is currently standing trial before a Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly receiving $25m out of the $153m loot traced to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

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A former Executive Director with First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Dauda Lawal, appeared before the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential panel on Saturday to give evidence against the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.

Lawal is currently standing trial before a Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly receiving $25m out of the $153m loot traced to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

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A source close to the panel said the former banker was invited as part of a probe into the investigative deficiencies of the EFCC under Magu.

He said Lawal was asked to testify without prejudice to his ongoing corruption trial.

It was learnt that while the former banker was giving his testimony, Magu walked into the venue at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa around 12pm, three hours before he was scheduled to appear.

A top source said, “Lawal appeared before the panel to clarify some allegations he had made in the past against the EFCC some of which had been reported to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation. This was without prejudice to his ongoing corruption trial.

“However, Magu strolled in around 12pm even though he was expected to arrive at 3pm. The panel members were initially reluctant to let Magu witness the hearing but he pleaded and was permitted to do so.”

Lawal, however, repeated the allegations he made against the EFCC in a counter-affidavit he filed before Justice Muslim Hassan of a Federal High Court in 2017.

The EFCC had frozen Lawal’s accounts and applied for the permanent forfeiture of his funds which the ex-banker challenged.

In a counter-affidavit he deposed to which formed the basis for his invitation by the panel, Lawal said the EFCC detained him for 11 days in 2016 and promised to release him only on the condition that he return some funds.

On how he received the $25m, Lawal said he received a call from a friend, Stanley Lawson, March 2015 to help collect the money, which he subsequently paid into an account provided for him.

“I had no idea of the origin of the said funds and only acted in the course of normal banking business,” he said.

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The former banker said the EFCC allegedly compelled him to provide funds he never received.

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