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‘It is Fake News’, EFCC Denies Dropping Charges Against Diezani

Nigeria’s anti-fraud office on Wednesday denied dropping graft charges against former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

“It is fake news, just disregard it,” Wilson Uwujaren, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) spokesman, told The Guardian Nigeria in a phone conversation.

Asked if there was an amendment of charges against the former minister, Uwujaren again said it is all “fake news.”

Local news media reported that the anti-graft office has dropped all 14 count charges against Diezani.

The EFCC was also said to have dropped the charges against Ben Otti, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Stanley Lawson, Lanre Adesanya, and Dauda Lawal, all of whom are former officials of commercial banks and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Diezani is being investigated in bribery, fraud, misuse of public funds and money-laundering cases in Nigeria, Italy, Britain and the US.

Many of the charges levied against her centre on her supervisory role over Nigeria’s vast oil resources as the anti-corruption agency alleges she engaged in fraudulent dealings during her tenure as the minister.

These allegations are backed up by documents from the US department of justice which named Diezani as part of a lawsuit seeking to reclaim assets worth $144 million believed to have been proceeds of corrupt dealings.

The assets include a $50 million luxury condo apartment in New York and a $80 million yacht.

In Nigeria, EFCC, in a 14 count-charge, accused the bank executives and Diezani with other NNPC officials of conspiring to conceal $153 million in Fidelity bank, which they ought to have known were proceeds of corruption punishable under the Money Laundering Act.

In 2015, the EFCC discovered that the $153 million was deposited, to allegedly fund the presidential second term campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The matter was investigated by the EFCC and the bankers were alleged to have conspired with Diezani and other NNPC officials to conceal and distribute parts of the fund.

Lawal who was an Executive Director of First Bank was accused of assisting Diezani to purchase a property, Merdien Hotel Ogeyi Palace in Port Harcourt, when he received $25 million from Fidelity Bank and deposited the same amount with Sterling Bank, allegedly on the instruction of Stanley.

The EFCC has obtained court rulings that have ordered the forfeiture of properties and funds linked to the former minister. At least N14.5 billion worth of jewellery has been forfeited to the EFCC.

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Copyright 2019 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to www.signalng.com and other relevant source.

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