More insights into the real reason the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission dropped a case of money laundering against a former Executive Director of First Bank Plc, Dauda Lawal, has unfolded.
Lawal, who was being tried by the anti-graft agency for allegedly handling the sum of $25m out of a total of $153m doled out by Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources in Nigeria, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections, was recently let off the hook after EFCC lawyers were instructed by Acting Chairman of the commission, Mohammed Umar, to withdraw the case.
The EFCC lawyers told Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, that the withdrawal was based on the need for further investigation and that the defendant ought not to be charged alone but with others currently at large.
But fresh findings by SaharaReporters have revealed that the withdrawal of the case against Lawal was actually at the instance of Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Long before now, Malami had pestered suspended Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu to strike out the case but he refused owing to the gravity of the offence involved.
After masterminding the arrest and ongoing probe of Magu, the AGF, it was gathered, instructed Lawal to write a petition to the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel investigating alleged abuse of office against the suspended EFCC head, to clear his name.
Upon receiving the petition, the retired former Appeal Court President invited a bank involved in the movement of the money to shed more light into claims made by Lawal but instead more cans of worms were opened as videos and photos presented by the bank further exposed his active participation in the financial crime.
Officials of the bank went ahead to reveal that Lawal collected $65m from the $153m doled out by Alison-Madueke and not $25m as earlier claimed.
With his cover about to be blown open after reportedly collecting bribe from Lawal to kill the case, Malami compelled the new EFCC Acting Chairman to withdraw the charges.
To further conceal his complicity in the scandal, Malami suspended EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, who had been trying the case of the ex-Frist Bank director, on the grounds of ‘insubordination’.
Sources in the know confirmed to SaharaRepoters that the AGF has been doing all he can to ensure that Lawal was not punished for his role in the money-laundering scandal.
Before the latest revelation on the matter, Lawal had in 2017 accused the EFCC of coercing him to return $40m alleged to be the proceeds of the crime linked to Alison-Madueke.
Through his lawyer, Charles Adeogun, he requested the court to order a refund of the sum under temporal forfeiture, stating that the EFCC misrepresented the document placed before Justice Muslim Hassan to obtain the order.
But with the fresh evidence against him and observers of events calling for maximum sanction to be applied, Lawal may be in for a long battle especially with witnesses confirming his role in the entire scandal.