One of the biggest cases of money laundering this year 2016 was blown wide open at the end of May by the arrest of a First Bank executive Dauda Lawal by EFCC officials. Dauda Lawal is an executive director of First Bank of Nigeria. He was arrested for allegedly helping the former minister for Petroleum Resources Deziani Alison-Madueke to launder $55 million. It was later widely allegd that Dauda Lawal confessed to having laundered about $25 million for the minister but First Bank would deny being involved in handling the cash for which Mr. Lawal was arrested, claiming he acted in his “private capacity” as a long-time friend of the former minister who is stuck in London. Apparently, Dauda Lawal used the money to buy up Le Meridien. Ogeyi Place, Port Harcourt for Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke.
Mr. Dauda Lawal graduated from Ahmadu Bello University in 1987 with a B.Sc in Political Science and obtained M.Sc. Political Science/International Relations from the same University in 1992. He started his working career in 1989 as Political Education Officer with the Agency for Mass Mobilization for Social and Economic Reliance Nigeria. Still in 1989, he joined Westex Nigeria Limited as an Assistant General Manager. In 1994 he was appointed as an Assistant Consular Officer (Immigration), and later Chief Protocol Officer, Embassy of Nigeria, Washington, DC, USA. Mr. Lawal joined First Bank of Nigeria Plc in May 2003; as Relationship Manager, Commercial Banking, and was at various times Senior Manager, Abuja Area office, Business Development Manager, Abuja, Principal Manager, Group Head PSG II, Assistant General Manager (Business Development Manager), Maitama, Deputy General Manager (Business Development Manager), Maitama/Group Head Public Sector, Abuja. Between October 2010 and September 2011 Mr. Lawal was elevated to the position of Executive Vice President, Public Sector North, of First Bank of Nigeria Plc. In September 2012 he became Executive Director, Public Sector North, of First Bank of Nigeria Plc.
Barely two weeks after Lawal was picked up by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), it was reported that he returned huge amounts of money laundered through him by the ex-oil minister. While investigators reportedly tried to seize Le Meridien Ogeyi Place Port Harcourt, the Presidency pushed for the refund of the money from its owners. Mr. Lawal is said to have returned millions of dollars to the EFCC as the agency prepared to let him go. The owners of Le Meridien Port Harcourt paid back an amount that was said to be close to N18billion into the federal government recovery account.
According to The Capital ( June 3, 2016) ; further findings revealed that the embattled First Bank Executive Director set himself up for disgrace by his alleged excessive greed and lust for quick money. ‘Sources within First Bank disclosed that he had always carried himself around like a Lord of other people’s manor. Lawal allegedly displayed the proclivities of a man perpetually angling to hit a fortune, particularly through illicit channels. So desperate was he to be identified as a billionaire and banking big boy, that he resorted to startling measures and shenanigans to achieve his aim. For instance, besides his unforgivable haughtiness and penchant to play snob, Lawal was given to undue ostentation which often elicited unfavorable comments and impressions about him among his colleagues.
Lawal was brazen in his display of wealth; he reportedly brought three different posh automobiles to work on a single work day. Lawal allegedly went back home twice in one day to bring three different cars to work in his bid to establish himself as a filthy rich banker. He incurred a bad reputation for himself among both senior and junior staff of First Bank by his penchant to turn up his nose at everyone. Thus no sooner did he get arrested by the EFCC than his employers and colleagues disowned him, claiming he acted outside the sphere of his legitimate duties as an employee of First Bank.’
Recently, Mallam Lawal Dauda released a press statement contradicting the EFCCand the position of First Bank that its ED Public Sector North had acted in his private capacity as a friend of Deziani Madueke. The statement declared, “For the purpose of emphasis, Mallam Lawal Dauda has never been a conduit for movement of illicit funds neither has he been involved in the purchase of any hotel either here or elsewhere. This much was told to the EFCC during his interrogation’’. Lawal Dauda also placed the blame for his travail on some anonymous haters. He said ‘that those who feel unhappy with his career advancement will spare no effort to throw mud at him’. Did those haters include the EFCC to which he had reportedly returned millions of dollars.
While explaining Dauda’s relationship with the fugitive former minister, the press statement signed by John Dania explained, “As the Executive Director in charge of Public sector of the bank, it is incumbent on him (Dauda) to build the necessary bridges to attract all the benefits the bank can muster from the financial operations of the public sector…The former minister, given the influence she wielded within the government and operations in the oil sector was certainly an asset to any corporate organization especially the banks. All the banks in Nigeria and abroad actively sought to have banking relationships with her because she sat atop a sector which is the prime revenue spinner for the country. It is to Mr Lawal’s credit that the First Bank group participated actively in offering financial services to the oil industry under Mrs Madueke. It must be emphasized that this relationship was purely professional and no laws were violated in the pursuit of it. We were bound by strict professional ethics and we never jeopardized the name of the bank while transacting in the oil industry or any other industry for that matter’’. There is no doubt that Lawal Dauda brought a lot of business and money from Mrs. Madueke to First Bank. All of it could not be legitimate since the billions that he allegedly laundered for her were not deposited in the name of her employer, the Federal Government of Nigeria or its Ministry of Petroleum Resources; neither was the money by any means within her pay grade. Dauda Lawal, executive director of First Bank and bosom buddy of Deziani Alison-Madueke knew exactly what manner of service he was offering one of the chiefest looters of the Jonathan administration and First Bank benefitted immensely under the atmosphere of impunity. The attempt of First Bank to wash its hands off the alleged laundering activities of its ED is an act of corporate cowardice perhaps borne out of the fear of the EFCC. Over the years, First Bank benefitted from Dauda’s business development deals as his statement clearly revealed. They promoted him. They empowered him; they celebrated him; a two-time recipient of the First Bank CEO Merit Award for Outstanding Performance, the “Best Business Development Manager” in 2006 and “The Most Enterprising Staff” in 2009. Finally, Magu catches up with him and First Bank plays Herod.