Diezani’s $9b Deal: First Bank, Dauda, EFCC
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Nobody talks seriously about the menace of corruption and corporate fraud in Nigeria because those who should and can talk about them authoritatively and genuinely are either already part of the system or else, are waiting to be sucked in through electoral governance system.
Talking about politicians and the political class, and of course their retinue of political appointees and spin doctors; which includes the leadership of special agencies like anti-graft bodies and the code of conduct bureau; sound like exercise in futility.
A second reality is that the magnitude of the corruption of corporate fraud is perpetrated largely by a trusted institution, the banking system, which comprise of the regulatory banking and financial system, talking about the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), allied financial inspectorate agencies, the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and deposit money banks, with an already suffocating, gripping hold on the economy.
In fact, the line separating politicians, political office holders and the banking mafia, talking about the ownership of the financial undertakers (commercial banks) is becoming thinner and thinner, by the day; to the extent that they can hardly be separated, and as the cul-de-sac that have taking the country prisoner.
Those whose business it is to hold the eccentric elites accountable for society, talking about the Nigeria media, has, unfortunately, also been sucked into the convoluted conspiracy while the country running on autopilot is on the precipice to total collapse; which is only a matter of time.
The first signs of collapse have already taken shape and are visible despite that successive government and their friends in the elitist bracket have elected to look the other way; while ensuring that the facts of the impending catastrophe remains distorted.
The bond of conspiracy is such that they would not even forebear to label anyone calling attention to signs of collapse as either an alarmist, a fifth columnist, or a paid agent deployed by the opposition parties; and with the familiar Abuja official abracadabra, the matter may end up being subdued and prevented from further mention.
Report yesterday, Sunday, December 25, 2023 by one of the dailies that the masses are groaning under the yoke of hardship and will be celebrating a dull Christmas in the wake of erratic prices of food items coupled with scarcity of cash is a testimonial about the gradual collapse presently confronting the nation.
Above background is to provide us with the essential clarity required to understand the recent confession by a former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who driven to the precipice by despair, vouchsafed to spill the bean regarding the theft of a whooping USD9million pilfered out of the national treasury with the collusion of Fist Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Plc, through the bank’s former Executive Director, Dauda Lawal, now Executive Governor of Zamfara State.
Sadly, the unholy alliance has also shown the apparent culpability of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which appeared to have looked the other way and failed to open a case file of the sordid transaction between Diezani, Dauda and FBN Plc.
This is not the first time the FBN Plc would perhaps, be involved in mindboggling financial malfeasances, it’s just one of the regulars, amongst the three other notorious big banks, holding the nation captive while she struggles for breath; and while the EFCC chases after secondary offenders such as cyber criminal yahoo-yahoo boys with case files that are obviously inconsequential in comparison to the mindboggling looting of the national treasury by politicians and their appointees.
This position does not seek to justify the danger of cyber financial crimes, but rather to highlight the fall and failure as it were, as well indeed, the questionable stance of the EFCC in the genuine fight against crimes, by electing to chase after the small fries, while hobnobbing with the bigger, institutional thieves.
If Diezani’s recent confession that she entrusted over USD9billion to Dauda for safekeeping while he served as the Executive Director of FBN Plc isn’t corruption and corporate fraud, one wonders, what else is.
Yet, there it is not clear whether there are records and evidences that the EFCC nor its sister agency, the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) has the case file of the heist tying Diezani, Daudu and the FBN Plc, together.
It would appear that EFCC merely operates an opaque and random search that tickles it fancy and or else, meets with some predetermined interest, limits and or approvals; in which the one is as reprehensible as the other.
It is the duty of the commission to fact check all cases of corruption and establish recovery or prosecution and or the two together; and if a big sleaze like the one in question here escaped the attention of the EFCC or was not detected by it, then the leadership and all heads of the directorates should be preparing to hand over their resignation letters.
Resignation letters? Who says any part of the leprous five fingers, can be indicted and hence faced with the moral shame, opts to resign? That obviously was a metaphor of our situation. Governor Dauda is enjoying immunity and protected by the law against prosecution. The EFCC will not prosecute itself or the FBN which is friend of the government, nor will the presidency seek effective operability of the anti-graft agencies; which are in repository of the damned case files.
This is the tragedy of our present situation, in which there appears to be no end in sight, and like a circus show, Nigerian masses are caught in a revolving anticlimax of absurdities, call it a benumbing reality, denser than the darkness; confusing to the senses as a perpetual conflict, regularly re-hatching itself.
Diezani couldn’t capture our unfortunate situation better going by media interview in London, as she resolved to plead with President Bola Tinubu to intervene and support her return to Nigeria.
Like all criminals before her, she pleads in helping to rebuild Nigeria she helped in destroying by callously invading its treasury at the first opportunity she had to serve and was expected to make Nigeria great.
If you are wondering why the EFCC is opposed to her return to Nigeria, perhaps, the report of her interview will help you understand the plot and shenanigans.
And if Nigerians are not deeply concerned about the disturbing posturing of the EFCC especially with regards to its opposition to Diezani’s desire to return to the country, it merely emphasizes the truism that we the masses have been severely assaulted to such a degree we have lost the sense to feel and react; and thus forever adapted to suffering and smiling.
Is it not curious that the EFCC has pulled down from its site, the Diezani London interview and her quest to be all allowed to return to Nigeria? EFCC didn’t just pull the story down, they labeled it ‘fake news’, knowing that Nigerians are gullible and will accept whatever is thrown at them.
Discerning and well meaning Nigerians should ask the operators of EFCC what they are afraid of by preventing the return of Diezani Madueke. There is something those smart alecs in the commission are not telling Nigerians; it is almost palpable that there is something they are hiding.
The former minister of petroleum during the President Goodluck Jonathan government had fled the country for fears of the EFCC and taken refuge somewhere in eastern Europe until she was extradited to the United Kingdom for financial crimes.
After the prosecution and as soon as the UK showed sign of repatriating her to Nigeria than the EFCC stood on the way, resulting in fresh dilemma for the former petroleum minister, who has expressed a feeling of being broke and in need of squaring up with those in custody of her stolen billions; who she thinks, want her dead.
Diezani who is reportedly in the second stage of cancer implored Tinubu to permit her to return to Nigeria to confess to her criminal financial adventure whilst she held forth as the powerful minister of the naira spinning corporate behemoths under the ministry.
“I’ve been accused of financial misconduct during my tenure as the petroleum minister, and it’s true. However, I would like President Bola Tinubu and Nigerians to forgive me, allow me to return home, and contribute because life is transient”, she reportedly said.
But she said more, she fingered the current Zamfara State Governor, His Excellency Dauda Lawal Dare, to whom she said she entrusted with over USD9 billion for safekeeping while he served as the Executive Director of First Bank Nigeria PLC.
She said, “My husband and my entire family members including my Nigeria lawyer based in the United Kingdom knew my relationship with Dauda Lawal Dare. Unfortunately, it has now come to a point that Mr Dauda Lawal is no longer picking my phone calls and even worked in Collaboration with UK police to put me under Surveillance, may be to claim the money I entrusted to him when I die.”
It is believed that corporate fraud dominates the Nigerian corruption landscape, with the banks and its regulators providing the getaway channels which allows the laundering of the funds through skewed processes available within various windows associated with correspondent banking.
Nor is the Diezani, FBN and Duada deal the case of first high profile thieving that will likely be swept under the carpet and with the prospect of been forgotten very soon. The case of the current minister of budget and economic planning, Atiku Baguda CON stands out.
Baguda who was believed to have helped late dictator, Gen. Sanni Abacha steal and laundered huge unspecified funds from the system, bought his way into becoming governor of Kebbi State for two terms.
None of the banks implicated in the transactions linked to him had any of their CEOs or Managers quizzed, prosecuted or jailed. Is not strange that with EFCC, the democratic space has almost all be taken over by people with questionable characters?
The present Senate President, Godswill Akpabio’s financial escapades in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) stinks to the high heaven, but which was rather perceived as an aroma at the EFCC, ICPC and other financial laundering gate keepers.
Under Akpabio the Niger Delta development agenda recorded its worst reverses; and there’s no hope the region will recover or catch up with the desired development plan in the next two decades.
While we look out for what the outcome of Diezani’s appeal would become, it is important Nigerians takes more than passing interest in how the EFCC has been responding to and is still treating high heel corruption cases.
For big elephants and above-the-law political titans like Senate President Akpabio, at least those with the facts who still believe in Nigeria should continue to provide well informed, in-depth and objective report of the NDDC squander mania , if only to serve the cause of posterity.
As for Governor Dauda of Zamfara State, Diezani and the corporate conspirators, time will define the amount of distortion and economic instability it exposes Nigeria to in the long run.