A former Executive Director with a first-generation bank currently on trial for money laundering, Dauda Lawal has appeared before the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential panel probing the suspended Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman Ibrahim Magu on Saturday to give evidence against him.
Dauda Lawal who 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.
The former Banker, who was asked to testify without prejudice on his ongoing trial was invited as part of a probe into the investigative deficiencies of the EFCC under Magu. A source hinted
Lawal who had made allegations against the EFCC chairman in the past and had indeed reported some of the allegations to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation was invited to clarify some of these allegations.
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.
It was learned that while the former banker was giving his testimony, Magu walked into the venue at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa around 12 pm, three hours before he was scheduled to appear.
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.
The former banker said the EFCC allegedly compelled him to provide funds he never received.
Lawal said in the affidavit, “Having been invited and subsequently detained in Lagos for 11 consecutive days and without access to members of my immediate family, the EFCC investigators kept suggesting and insisting that there was a shortfall of $40m, which I had yet to account for.
“They were alleging that I had in fact taken $65m as opposed to the $25m, which I stated that I had received. The EFCC investigators interrogating me made it clear that the only way that I could/would leave detention is if I made their suggested shortfall available to them.
“Because I never had this EFCC invented $40m to give, I had to use my personal connections to source for and raise about 50 percent of the said amount while I was in detention. I managed to borrow some of the money from the bank where I am an executive director and surrendered it to the EFCC through my legal counsel and was eventually released from detention on May 20, 2016.
“Consequently, in a three-week period between May 13 and June 6, 2016, I was made to surrender to the EFCC Recovery Account at the Central Bank of Nigeria the total sum of N9.08bn.”
Meanwhile, Magu’s lawyer, Mr. Wahab Shittu, says his client will no longer condone allegations leveled against him.
Shittu said this in a statement on Sunday titled, ‘Re: Magu faces questions over assets declaration – Fresh Propaganda Against Our Client Prejudicial to Panel Proceedings’.
The statement was in reaction to media reports that Magu was facing a fresh investigation for failing to declare his assets before the Code of Conduct Bureau as required by law.
The lawyer said they were shocked by several false and defamatory imputations not arising from the proceedings of the panel.
He said, “Take notice that our client can no longer fold his hands in the face of these sustained malicious attacks to prejudge him in the public space. Our client will henceforth, point by point reply to all false allegations orchestrated against him in the public space on a daily basis as well as present his comprehensive defence for the world to see.”