The Federal High Court in Lagos has heard that a former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke allegedly collected N23billion ($115.01million) from three oil marketers ahead of the 2015 general election. An investigator, Usman Zakari, said she allegedly distributed the money to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chiefs and others. Zakari was testifying before Justice Muslim Hassan in the trial of former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide.
She was charged along with former Senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial District, Ayo Adeseun; a PDP leader in Oyo State, Chief Olarenwaju Otiti and Mrs Alison-Madueke, who is said to be at large. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused them of conspiring to directly take possession of N650million, which they reasonably ought to have known was part of proceeds of an unlawful act, and without going through a financial institution. Zakari, the second prosecution witness, said Akinjide and others allegedly received N650million cash in March 2015 at the Dugbe branch of a bank in Ibadan on Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s instructions, and that the money was part of N23billion which the former oil minister kept in the bank.
According to the witness, the N23billion was the naira equivalent of $115.01million which Mrs Alison-Madueke allegedly collected from three oil marketers, including Lano Adesanya, ahead of the 2015 general elections. Led in evidence by prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, Zakari said the commission received a “Category A intelligence” about a meeting at Mrs Alison-Madueke’s house in December 2014 with the bank’s Managing Director and some oil marketers. According to Zakari, she told the bank chief that the oil marketers would bring hard currencies to the bank, and that he should keep the money until further directives.
The witness said Autus Integrated Limited took $17.8million to the bank; Northern Belt Oil and Gas lodged $60million; while Mid-Western Oil Services Limited paid $9.5million. “An individual, Lano Adesanya, brought the sum of $1.8million. Our findings further revealed that the three oil marketers made payment of the sum of $89million and some fractions. “Investigations further revealed that the then petroleum minister’s aides made available $25million and some fractions in suitcases…,” the witness said. Zakari said Mrs Alison-Madueke directed the bank to convert the dollars to naira, which was complied with, after which she allegedly directed that the defendants be paid.
“They signed for the money and took it to the residence of the first defendant (Akinjide). The defendants made cash payment of N650million without going through any financial institution, an amount which was more than the amount authorised by law to be paid in cash,” Zakari said. He said Akinjide and Adeseun “admitted making cash payments in that amount.” Defence counsel Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) and Michael Lana urged the court to expunge Zakari’s evidence because he did not personally witness the meeting at Mrs Alison-Madueke’s house or the cash withdrawal at the bank.
But, Oyedepo argued that Zakari’s evidence was not hearsay but was based on his investigative findings. “In view of the fact that the evidence that PW2 gave was the discovery he made in the course of his investigation, the law is settled that such evidence cannot amount to hearsay,” Oyedep said. Justice Hassan adjourned till March 23.