The Executive Director in charge of Public Sector at First Bank, Mallam Dauda Lawal, has disclosed what he told the Economic and Financial Crime Commission(EFCC) when he was detained by the anti-graft agency sometime back. Lawal, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said that he was questioned about his relationship with a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke. Lawal denied the allegation that the former minister channelled the funds for the alleged $25million purchase of the Le Meridien Hotel in Port Harcourt through him.According to the statement, “This allegation is malicious and without substance in any material particular. 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. As the Executive Director in charge of Public sector of the bank, it is incumbent on him to build the necessary bridges to attract all the benefits the bank can muster from the financial operations of the public sector.
“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 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 Madueke.”