The Executive Director in charge of Public Sector at FirstBank, Mallam Dauda Lawal, on Wednesday, disclosed his roles and what he told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on his relationship with the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, over alleged looting of the nation’s treasury by the former minister
In a statement in Abuja, and made available to newsmen on Wednesday, Mallam Lawal confirmed that he was actually queried on his relationship with a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, by the operatives of the commission.
According to him, “it is true that my name has featured prominently in the EFCC investigations of Mrs Deziani Allison Madueke, the former Minister of Petroleum Resources under the government of President Goodluck Jonathan.”
Lawal also revealed that he was “questioned by the EFCC over his alleged role or complicity in the alleged $25 million acquisition of the Le Meridien Hotel in Port Harcourt.”
He, however, denied the allegation that the former minister channeled the funds for the purchase of the property through him.
According to Lawal, “this allegation is malicious and without substance in any particular material. It must be stated clearly that Lawal is completely oblivious of the ownership status of the said hotel neither is he directly or remotely aware of any transaction involving the former minister on this hotel.
“The truth is that this rumour must have been fueled by Mallam Lawal’s close association with Mrs Madueke, which is based purely on professional pursuits.
“As the Executive Director in charge of public sector of the bank, it is incumbent on me 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 organisation, 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 emphasised 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 jeopardised the name of the bank while transacting in the oil industry or any other industry for that matter.
“The danger in the current narrative is the unfortunate tendency to misinterpret every relationship to be based on fraudulent foundations, especially where the verdict of guilt has been pronounced on one of the parties, in advance of a formal trial.
“It is difficult for one to state his side of the story where the long knives have been drawn to hack down anybody connected to the “guilty” party. This attitude is not only poisonous to the concept of liberty, but also inimical to the universally-accepted principles of presumption of innocence until one is convicted in a free and fair trial.
“The implication of this mob mentality on the career of professionals is the limitation of their productive energies for fear of vilifications so such as this. Mallam Lawal has had a distinguished banking career rising from the very base to the pinnacle of the profession.
“His accomplishments have attracted recognition in the global banking network. He is viewed as one of the shinning stars of the industry who is looked upon to entrench the reforms put in place to strengthen the sector. He is experienced enough to know the consequences of any unethical behaviour.
“He is also conscious of the huge responsibilities that lie ahead as he advances his baking career. He is, therefore, not that myopic as to willfully engage in a scheme that will tarnish his name.
“He remains a banker with impeccable records of integrity, innovation and performance in the industry and he considers challenges like this to be one of the thorny paths to success. He remains undaunted and is prepared to perform even better in his present and future responsibilities
“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
“The future is better assured when we apply the principles of fairness rather than the haste to crucify, especially when based on unfounded rumors simply because they fit our prejudices.”