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EFCC arrests ponzi scheme operator who ‘defrauded Nigerians of N7bn’

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested Babagana Dalori, chief executive officer of Galaxy Transportation and Construction Services Limited, for allegedly defrauding Nigerians through a ponzi scheme.

The commission said 27,400 Nigerians lost N7 billion through fake promises of high returns on their investment in Dalori’s companies.

In a statement, Tony Orilade, EFCC spokesman, said Dalori was discovered to have initially paid investors 200 per cent interest on their deposits in his companies.

He said the suspect later reduced the interest to 135 per cent “before the scheme crashed in 2018.”

“Dalori, who is currently undergoing interrogation in the Commission, had incorporated the firm in 2012 with one tricycle (Keke NAPEP), which through pool investments by members of the public later boasted of 50 tricycles,” the statement read.

“The entrepreneur later diversified into other business ventures while promising mouth-watering returns to investors.

“To suck as many unsuspecting victims into his ponzi net, Dalori engaged in massive advertisements on radio and television, including a production of a movie by A-list Nollywood actors, which aimed at convincing members of the public to invest in his companies.”

The anti-graft said a victim lamented the frustrations of unsuspecting investors who can no longer get their funds back.

According to the victim, “at the moment, he has used the investors money to incorporate different entities without getting their consent. He now has Galaxy Global Energy Concept Ltd, Galaxy Miners Concept Ltd, Galaxy Global Farms, Galaxy Computers, Galaxy Block Making Factory, Galaxy Hospital and Galaxy Hotel.”

The commission accused Dalori of committing a criminal act, saying all bank accounts belonging to his company have since been frozen.

Last year, EFCC cracked down on a similar ponzi scheme shortly after the shut down of Mavrodi Mondial Movement (MMM).

EFCC beams searchlight on JAMB over N8.7bn fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has launched into a probe of the cash inflow and outflow of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) between 2010 and 2016.

The anti-graft agency wants to get to the root of an alleged N8.7billion fraud in the board. Fifteen suspects have already been shortlisted for trial.

Among them are some zonal heads and state coordinators. One of the suspects facing trial is a female accountant, Philomena Chise, whose sensational claim that a snake swallowed N36 million raked in from the sales of e-facility cards rocked the nation.

Chise later told EFCC operatives that the said N36 miilion was disbursed as an I-Owe-You advance to cash-strapped staff.

The N8.7billion alleged fraud is said to have predated the present JAMB management, led by Prof. Ishaq Oloyede.

A document detailing the alleged fraud says the large sum was revenue from sales of e-facility cards and change of course cards which ended in private pockets.

“The remittance of over N8billion by Oloyede to the Federal Government as revenue led to the Forensic Investigation of Financial Activities of JAMB between 2010 and 2016 by Faithpro Consulting Auditing Associate (Financial and Management Consultants),” it says.

“The forensic investigators came up with N8.7billion shortfall within the same period which the EFCC has been investigating. There are about 15 suspects who may face trial in the first batch.”

Some of the states where the fraud was detected include Benue, Nasarawa, Kano, Kogi, Plateau, Gombe, Yobe and Edo.

Some of the suspects under investigation, who may face trial include Chise and Sale Umar (Benue); Labaran Tanko (Nasarawa); Daniel Agbo (Kogi), Yakubu Jekada (Plateau), Patricia Ogunsola and Cyril Izireim Imoukhuede (Edo); Murtala Abdul (Gombe); Aliyu Yakubu (Kano) among others.

The report adds “In Benue, out of the expected revenue of N124, 180,00 from e-facility cards, only N88,700,000 was remitted leaving a balance of N35.48million.

“The JAMB office in the state also received 10,210 change of course cards and instead of remitting N8, 025,000, about N7million was paid into the designated account. About N1,025,000 is missing till date.

“Although JAMB’s preliminary findings claimed that Chise confessed that a snake swallowed the N36m unremitted cash, she told the EFCC detectives that the shortfall was an I-Owe-You advance to cash-strapped staff that are yet to refund same.”

Employees in Yobe State claimed to have “lost sales records because of attacks on Damaturu by Boko Haram.”

The story is similar in Edo State “where N26,400,000 is missing. Out of the expected revenue from e-facility cards of about N123, 933,000, only N97,533,000 was paid into the relevant account.”

In Gombe, about N40, 004,000 sales revenue was realized but only N29, 073,000 was remitted leaving a balance of N10,269,000.”

“An officer in Kano, in his efforts to cover up for 20,000 unaccounted cards worth N20million, cut carbon papers in the form of e-facility cards and returned these cards as unused.”

The document revealed findings on Nasarawa State where an officer claimed to have lost over N24,037,000 cards in a road crash.

The document added: “Investigation revealed that Mr. Labaran Tanko was the JAMB State Coordinator of Lafia Office, Nasarawa State between 2011 and 2016.

“Investigation revealed that within the period of his tenure, Nasarawa State Office revealed a total of 24,882 e-facility cards out of which 24,037 were unsold while 845 were sold at the rate of N1,000 each. The expected revenue was N845,000 realized and remitted to JAMB.

“However he claimed that the remaining 23,147 cards got burnt in an accident he had along Lafia-Akwanga Expressway while 890 cards were missing.

“Meanwhile, contrary to his submission, forensic evidence obtained from the IT Unit of JAMB showed that the cards were sold and utilized by candidates within Nasarawa State and its environs.

“This forensic evidence showed the name, phone number and purpose for which the cards were used. The expected revenue from the claimed burnt/missing cards was N24,037,000. The revenue from the cards, which were actually sold and utilized based on forensic evidence, was never remitted to JAMB.

“Also investigation revealed that 2,000 CBT cards were supplied to Nasarawa State Office which were never sold. Rather, the State Coordinator claimed that the said 2,000 CBT cards were among the cards that got burnt in road accident along Lafia-Akwanga Expressway.

Contrary to the claim, investigation recovered forensic evidence which showed that the cards were actually not burnt but utilized by candidates within Nasarawa State and its environs. This forensic evidence further revealed the details of candidates hat used the cards, such as name, phone number and purpose for which the cards were used.

“Further investigation revealed that 4, 589 change of course cards were supplied to Nasarawa State Office of which they sold 1,426 at the rate of N2,500 each while 3, 163 cards were unused and same was remitted to JAMB. However, the State Coordinator claimed that the remaining 3,163 cards got burnt in the same road accident. Forensic evidence, however, proved otherwise.”

Courts grants Ofili-Ajumogobia N10m bail

The federal high court sitting in Lagos has granted a N10 million bail to Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, a former judge.

Ofili-Ajumogobia was re-arraigned before Rilwan Aikawa, her ex-colleague, where she pleaded not guilty to 18 counts bothering on unlawful enrichment, taking property unlawfully, corruption, forgery and giving false information.

The former judge was first arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before an Ikeja high court in 2016, but on Tuesday, Hakeem Oshodi, a judge, had struck out the corruption charges against her and Godwin Obla, a co-defendant, on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit.

However, the former judge was immediately re-arrested by operatives of the EFCC in the court premises and a fresh criminal charge was filed against her.

In her ruling on Thursday, Aikawa ordered the former judge to submit her passport to the deputy chief registrar of the court on or before 6pm.

She said Ofili-Ajumogobia must fulfill the bail conditions within 10 days or it will be revoked.

“I take judicial notice of the Easter holiday and grant bail in the sum of N10m, with one surety in like sum who must have landed property in Lagos,” Aikawa said.

“The surety must not be below grade level 16 in the federal or state civil service. The defendant must deposit her passport with the deputy chief registrar of the court at or before 6.00p.m. today.

“The defendant shall endeavor to fulfill the conditions within 10-days or the bail will be revoked.

“She shall be released to her lead counsel, Wale Akoni (SAN), pending the fulfillment of the other conditions or the expiration of 10 days, whichever comes first.”

Aikawa also issued summons to compel Obla to appear before the court.

“For the second defendant, an order is hereby made for issuance of summons compelling Godwin Obla to appear before the court on the May 15, for the purpose of trial,” the judge ruled.

Earlier, Rotimi Oyedepo,  EFCC’s lead counsel, had called the attention of the judge to a pending charge against Obla and his absence, saying every attempt made to inform Obla of the pending charge proved abortive.

Oyedepo urged the court to give an order compelling Obla to appear before the court on the next adjourned date.

The case was adjourned till May 15 for trial.

EFCC: Why we re-arrested Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it re-arrested Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, a former judge of the federal high court, in order to file a fresh criminal charge against her.

Ofili-Ajumogobia was surrounded by operatives of the commission at the court premises on Tuesday after Hakeem Oshodi, judge of a Lagos high court, struck out corruption charges against her.

In his ruling, Oshodi struck out the 31-count charge bordering on an alleged perversion of the course of justice, unlawful enrichment and forgery filed by the EFCC against Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla, on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit.

The judge also said the EFCC did not follow the procedures set by the National Judicial Council (NJC) in disciplining erring judicial officers

Oshodi ruled that based on the judicial precedent set by the case of Nganjiwa V. FRN, the high court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit as the EFCC “jumped the gun” in filing the first amended charge.

“As at Monday, December 11, 2017, the EFCC was aware of the decision reached by the court of appeal in Nganjiwa vs FRN,” the judge said.

“As at that date, the amended information was yet to be filed and the 12 prosecution witness was still giving evidence.”

However, in a statement on Tuesday, Tony Orilade, EFCC’s spokesperson, said in view of Oshodi’s ruling and having complied with the NJC procedure, the commission is set to prefer fresh criminal charges against the 59-year-old judge.

“The Commission re-arrested Ofili-Ajumogobia in line with the decision of the Appeal Court, Lagos Division, in a case involving Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, where it said that a judge could not be prosecuted until he or she had either been dismissed or compulsorily retired by the National Judicial Council, NJC,” the statement read.

“Consequent upon the fact that the Commission had presented Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia before the NJC for disciplinary action and that the NJC had taken a position, the Commission would now approach the court to prefer fresh charges her.”

In October 2018, the NJC recommendedOfili-Ajumogobia’s dismissal over misconduct and money-laundering.

Nine top FIRS officials in EFCC custody over alleged multi-billion naira fraud

Nine senior officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) are currently in detention over alleged multi-billion naira fraud according to a report by Premium Times .

The officials, who are being detained by the anti-graft agency (EFCC) in Abuja, include the Director of Finance and Accounts (DFA) of the FIRS, Mohammed Auta.

Apart from Mr Auta, another director of the agency, Peter Hena, is also alleged to be involved in the scandal.

Mr Hena, the Coordinating Director, Support Services Group of the FIRS, is currently out of Nigeria and will be arrested as soon as he returns to the country, EFCC sources told this newspaper.

A top official of the FIRS, however, said Mr Hena is on official medical leave outside the country and did not flee.

Mr Hena is believed to be one of the closest officials to the FIRS chairman, Babatunde Fowler.

It is still unclear to EFCC officials, whether or not Mr Fowler is involved in the scandal.

Details of the scandal are still sketchy as at the time of this report. However, Messrs Auta and Hena are being investigated for allegedly diverting about N6 billion tax funds that should have gone to the Nigerian government, anti-corruption officials said.

It was learnt that most of the other affected officials are from the finance and account department of the FIRS.

All the officials have been in the EFCC detention since April 1.

The newspaper said the EFCC is closing in on several other senior officials of the revenue collection service in a widening investigation to uncover other fraudulent activities involving several billions of government tax revenues.

When contacted on the detention, the EFCC spokesperson, Orilade Tony, said he had not been briefed on the matter. He said any such detention would be at the EFCC office in Wuse 2, Abuja. He asked to be given more time to get more details on the detention.

The FIRS is saddled with collecting taxes and revenues of the federal government.

The agency under Mr Fowler has seen its revenue generation improve, setting new records. The agency said it collected about N5.32 trillion as revenue in 2018, the highest in Nigeria’s history.

Court dismisses EFCC’s N254m bribery case against Akwa Ibom Senator

An Ikeja Special Offences Court, on Wednesday, dismissed a N254 million bribery suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Albert Bassey, a serving Senator representing Akwa-Ibom North-East.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, in a ruling, dismissed the suit due to lack of jurisdiction and advised the anti-graft commission to file the suit in Akwa Ibom State where the alleged bribe took place.

“The issue of jurisdiction is a fundamental one. In the instant case, the prosecution had failed to give reasons why the suit should be heard within this jurisdiction.

“This court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate on this matter. I hereby strike out this suit for lack of jurisdiction.
“The prosecution should file the charges in Akwa-Ibom where the alleged fraud took place, ” Justice Taiwo said.

Bassey, 46, is faced with corruption charges proffered against him by the EFCC for receiving alleged bribes of 12 cars worth N254 million from an oil marketer, Olajide Omokore, during his tenure (2010-2014) as the Akwa-Ibom Commissioner for Finance.

The anti-graft commission claimed that the car gifts were given to Bassey by Omokore in exchange for contracts from the Akwa Ibom State Government.
The Akwa Ibom Senator was to face a 14-count corruption charge alongside Omokore at an Ikeja Special Offences Court.

Bassey was to specifically face seven-counts of corruption by a public officer and a public officer inviting bribes as a result of his own action.
Omokore, was to face a seven-count charge of offering gratification to a public officer and giving bribe on account of the action of a public officer.

Defence counsel, Solomon Umoh (SAN) and Olatunde Adejuyigbe (SAN), had respectively filed applications contending  that the court had no power to hear the substantive case.
Bassey’s counsel, Umoh, had argued that there was nothing before the court to prove that the alleged crime against Bassey was committed outside Akwa-Ibom or in Lagos State.

“There is nothing in the proof of evidence that suggested that any aspect of the alleged crime against the first defendant was committed outside Akwa-Ibom State and in Lagos State.
“Happily, the prosecution has narrowed everything down that it was cars that was delivered to the first defendant by the second defendant.

“So, we want to ask where were the cars delivered to so we can know what Lagos has to do with Akwa-Ibom State but we have provided the answers in our argument, the cars were delivered in Akwa Ibom State.

“If he (Bassey) received in Akwa-Ibom State, how come they are coming to try him in Lagos State.

“The prosecution have not shown how the first defendant came to Lagos to receive vehicles. They have not shown it anywhere in the proof of evidence.”
Umoh, who further argued that Bassey’s name was not mentioned in the petition written to the EFCC, urged the court to grant his application.

Similarly, Omokore’s counsel, Adejuyigbe, SAN had argued that the contending issue was not insufficiency of evidence but whether they were in the right court.

He further argued that in determining the issue of jurisdiction, the court was not bound by the place stated in the charge.

He said, “The count against the second defendant relates to receiving gratification or giving bribe.
“The section under which those counts were charged did not state time of purchase, place of purchase, mode of payment so we cannot be asking the court to rewrite the law,” he said.
However, the prosecution counsel, Sadisu Abubakar, had argued that the EFCC has the right to try the case before the court.

He said that the applicants tied the issue of jurisdiction to the issue of insufficiency of evidence which he noted was an abuse of court processes.
The offences, according to the EFCC, contravene sections 63 (1)(a), 64 (1)(a) and 98(1), (a), (i) of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.

Alleged fraud: EFCC opens case against Ecobank, staff

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday opened its case against Ecobank Plc and one of its employees Anieka Udoh at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

It accused the bank and Udoh of “negligently” failing to exercise due diligence in relation to conduct of financial transactions with Major-General Umaru Mohammed.

The prosecution called its first witness, Jones Oboh, in the alleged $50,000 and N9.2million fraud case.

The commission said the defendants fraudulently converted the army chief’s Ecobank MasterCard account numbered 0015052989 from debit card to credit card.

It said they debited the account of over USD 50,000 “without the knowledge and authority of Major-General Umaru Mohammed.”

Oboh, a former Loan Recovery and Collection Officer with the bank, said the bank operated the account for five years without the customer’s knowledge.

Led in evidence by prosecution counsel Bilikisu Buhari, the witness said it reflected on his system that Mohammed owed the bank N9.2million.

“After checking the records of those owing the bank, I discovered that Mohammed was one of those granted loans by Ecobank Plc.

“Sometime in March 2018, I called Mohammed on the phone to find out when he was going to pay back his loan.

“But to my surprise, he said he did not owe the bank and that there was no time he applied for any form of loan from the bank. Thereafter, a meeting was set up between the bank and Mohammed through me.

“It was in the meeting that Mohammed was told that his account was in the debit of N9.2million, showing that he utilised his Master Credit Card over a period of time.

“Mohammed informed the bank that there was no time he applied for a Master Credit Card from Ecobank and that the only transaction he had with the bank was that he applied to open a domiciliary account in which a debit card was issued to him so as to use it whenever he travels out of the country,” Oboh said.

The witness said found out that in April 2013, the sum of $38,725 was recorded against the complainant.

“In July 2014, a reversal of $32,887 was made on the account of Mohammed, leaving a debit of $6,125 in 2014.

“Afterwards, the bank opened a naira account in Mohammed’s name without his knowledge and dollars were converted to N261 to a dollar from his domiciliary account, leaving a debit balance of N3.1million on the Naira account.”

The witness said the bank never wrote or invited the complainant to bring to his notice all the “eventualities” on his accounts for five years until he took a step to do that.

“The bank left the account to grow in debit from N3.1million to N9.2million without informing the account owner.

“The second defendant, Anieka Udoh, was the account officer of the complainant,” the witness said.

Justice Saliu Saidu adjourned until April 18 for continuation of trial.

EFCC busts train ticket racketeering in Abuja, Kaduna, 9 persons arrested

Nine persons suspected of being involved in train ticket racketeering have been arrested in Abuja and Kaduna in sting operation by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Five of the suspects were arrested at Idu and Kubwa stations in Abuja on Saturday. They were identified as Clement Zakka, Udim Sunday Samson, Adams Danladi, Otitomoni Omobolanle and Hassan Dauda.

The Commission swung into action after receiving an intelligence report alleging that some group of people at the Idu and Kubwa train stations have been racketeering train tickets.

Their action made it difficult for passengers to have direct access to tickets, thus sabotaging government efforts in ensuring easy transportation across the country.

They will soon be charged to court.

Arrests of suspected racketeers were also made at Rigasa station in Kaduna on Sunday.

Investigations revealed that some members of staff of the station in connivance with some touts were defrauding unsuspecting travellers and selling train tickets at a higher rate. For economy ticket of N1,300 /N1,500 they were selling at a rate of N2,000 to N5,000 and for First Class which goes for N2,500 was being sold for between N7,000 to N15,000.

Three persons, including a staff of the station and two touts have been arrested.

The Station Manager, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Parcel Booking Officer of the Kaduna Railway Station have also been invited for questioning.

Some bankers launder funds for terrorists, says Magu

Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says some “fraudsters in banks are laundering public funds for corrupt politicians and terrorists”.

Magu made the assertion during a meeting with compliance officers of different banks in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital on Friday.

According to him, apart from colluding with the corrupt politicians and “terrorists”, the banks also help internet fraudsters commit financial crimes using money transfer services.

“The banks also help the politically exposed persons to steal and launder public funds,” he said.

“Money is being laundered and money is being used to fund terrorism in the country.  There are more terrorist activities in this country. So, it is a good business for them.

“You will also agree with me that the banks give lifelines to internet fraudsters; the one we call Yahoo boys.

“They (banks) provide market for them through MoneyGram and Western Union that are readily available.

“They  throw confidentiality to the wind and subject people’s accounts to a lot of intimidation and extortion.

“So, this is the reason we say we must come here. We have to talk. Unfortunately, we have fraudsters working in the banks; working right inside the banks.”

The EFCC chairman said there are some bad elements within the commission who give the fraudsters cover.

“We want to put in our machinery to deal with such fraudulent activities of the bankers and some law enforcement agencies,” he said .

“There are bad eggs among us, even in the EFCC, there seems to be readily available partnership with some fraudulent elements within the bank to perpetrate certain fraudulent activities and money laundering. I think this is basically the reason we called this meeting.”

Magu said the commission would go after governors with outstanding corruption cases, but were covered by immunity.

“We will go after them.  We will not let anybody go,” he said.

EFCC warns bankers on abuse of debit orders, whistle blowing

 

The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, has called on officials in the financial institutions in the country to be wary of “dubious individuals or groups within and outside their establishments”, who abuse both the whistle-blowing policy of the Federal Government as well as the Post No Debit, PND, Order in the sector.

He said there were strong indications that some banks officials divulge information on high-net-worth accounts to their accomplices, who in turn obtain a purported PND order to fleece unsuspecting customers.

Magu gave the warning during a meeting with Chief Compliance Officers of Banks in Lagos on Tuesday.

He also lamented that the Post No Debit, PND, order was being abused by certain individuals in connivance with “unscrupulous bank officials” to achieve some set goals.

According to him, “These individuals demand bogus five percent commission on the isolated high-net-worth accounts of the bank customers, thereby making a mockery of the whistle-blowing policy of the Federal Government and subversion of ethical practice of the banks, which emphasises confidentiality of their customers.

“We must stop the unfolding connivance against high-net-worth accounts in the banks. Some of these accounts might not necessarily be under investigation.

“They might be inheritance or proceeds from genuine investments.”

Magu further sought the cooperation of the group to sanitise the banking industry, adding that Nigeria’s banking sector ought to be at par with that of developed countries.

In his response, one of the bankers commended Magu for engaging and interfacing with them regularly on various issues affecting the industry.

He assured Magu that “we would go back and look inward for people who might be involved in such untoward acts of giving out information on their customers’ bank accounts.”

He described the practice of divulging information as a breach of the fundamental principles of the banking industry, which must be seriously addressed.

“I want to urge you to always pass any intelligence or information that needs the attention of the banks for us to proactively address it.

“We will continue to partner with the Commission to ensure that the banking industry is sanitized,” he further stated.

 

Saraki: Why Magu was never confirmed as EFCC chairman

Senate President Bukola Saraki has explained why the senate did not confirm Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Saraki gave the explanation on Monday at the orientation programme organised for senators-elect and house of representatives members-elect ahead of the inauguration of ninth national assembly in Abuja.

The country’s number three citizen said having rejected Magu’s nomination on more than one occasion, President Muhammadu Buhari should have nominated another person for the position.

The senate had repeatedly rejected Magu’s nomination after he was said to have been indicted for infractions by a report of the Department of State Services (DSS).

But Saraki said there is always “the need for political solution and dialogue” to solve such issue as Magu’s confirmation.

“In the case of the appointment of the chairman of the EFCC, the powers of the Senate are very clear in the constitution. For any nominee, we are guided by the constitution. It is an appointment made by Mr. President, subject to the confirmation of the Senate, which means the Senate has the powers to either say yes or say no,” said the senate president.

“In a situation where the Senate rejects, it is up to the executive at that time to send in a replacement or in some cases, when we have appointment rejected and the executive will re-present before the Senate but if the senators again, took a decision to reject the nominee, the appointment stands rejected.”

Saraki also said that the senators in the incoming ninth assembly should decide who is best to lead them as senate president, as it is important to ensure stability in the upper legislative chamber.

There has been much news about who takes over from Saraki as senate president after he failed to secure re-election in the chamber.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) is, however, expected to produce Saraki’s replacement having emerged with majority lawmakers.

Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the APC, had on Friday told party members in the national assembly to pick Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as their preferred candidates for senate president and speaker respectively or leave.

But Saraki urged incoming members of the national assembly to be present in the legislative complex and elect their next leaders themselves.

“The point I am making is that we should not make too much news on the process of electing a presiding officers,” he said.

“What is important is for the members of the Senate to decide who is the best to lead them so that they can have stability.”

EFCC to probe Amosun, Yari, Okorocha, Ahmed after May 29

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has set up an investigative team to probe four governors for corruption once they officially hand over.

The governors are Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara
State.

Yari was alleged to have diverted N500million and $500,000  from the state coffers in 2017.

The money, part of Paris Club refunds disbursed to states, was recovered from two firms, First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited, and Gosh Projects Limited, linked to Yari.

Also, Amosun would be investigated following a petition written by the Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate, accusing Amosun of misappropriation of N4billion Anchor Borrowers’ Fund given to the state by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The group claimed that Amosun deceived Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, when he came to the state for inspection while also insisting that Amosun has abandoned the project and diverted the funds for personal use.

On his part, Okorocha was accused of moving over N1billion from the state government to aid the campaign activities of Uche Nwosu, his son-in-law.

The commission had arrested Uzoho Casmir, Accountant-General of Imo State, for assisting Okorocha to move the said funds.

Ahmed, outgoing Governor of Kwara State, was said to have successfully diverted the sum of N1billion from the state coffers, a few days before presidential election.

The EFCC had earlier arrested six commissioners and government officials who might be involved in the criminal act.

The commission stated that bank officials have been invited for questioning and have also made documents available to the commission.

The EFCC confirmed that investigations are ongoing and any political office holder found culpable of corruption would be prosecuted.

N13bn fraud: EFCC asks Interpol to arrest ex-NIA DG, wife

The whereabouts of a former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke, and his wife, Folasade, remain unknown one week after they were declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

According to the anti-corruption body, they are wanted for failing to appear in court to answer to the N13bn money laundering charges against them.

The couple reportedly travelled out of the country for medical treatment in  January before they were to be arraigned.

Justice Chukwujeku Aneke of  the  Federal High Court Lagos on February 7, 2019 issued an arrest warrant against the couple following an oral application by EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo.

Sequel to the court order, the commission  on March 24 declared  the ex-spy chief and  his wife  wanted in a statement by its  acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade.

Oke and his wife are wanted in connection with the $43m, £27,800 and N23.8m cash recovered by the  EFCC  from an apartment in  Ikoyi, Lagos, in April 2017.

Orilade said the anti-graft agency had asked Interpol to arrest the couple wherever they might  be hiding.

He added   that the commission expected all Interpol member-countries to execute the arrest warrant issued against them.

He said, “We have done what we needed to do. We have notified Interpol and we expect them to issue a red notice against the couple and arrest them wherever they may be found. We don’t know where they are at  present.”

Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, also could not provide an update on the status of the EFCC request to Interpol, stating that he was out of town.

A check on Interpol website, however, did not turn up any information on Oke and his wife, an indication that they had not been listed on the wanted persons’ section of the site.

Only the profiles of a handful of Nigerians were listed out of the 6,855 wanted persons.

They include Odife Ikemefuna, 55, wanted for importing banned drugs and psychotropic substances from India and Iyinoluwa Victor, 55, wanted for drug trafficking.

Under Oke, the NIA allegedly collected $289,202,382 in cash for special operations from the account of the National Petroleum Investment Management Services at the Central Bank of Nigeria in February 2015.

The agency had claimed that the funds were meant for covert intelligence operations, but the Federal Government insisted it was a case of looting.

The FG subsequently set up a three-man panel headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.  The panel indicted Oke and recommended his dismissal from service.

Criminal charges were subsequently filed against him and his wife in February this year over the cash found at the Ikoyi apartment.

Fraud trial: Court rules on ex-NNPC GMD’s no case submission May 16

The Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed May 16, for ruling on the no case submission entered by Andrew Yakubu, former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in relation to his trial.

The trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed fixed the date on Wednesday after counsel to Yakubu, Mr Ahmed Raji, SAN, and the prosecutor, Mr Ben Ikani adopted their written addresses on the no case submission.

Yakubu was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on a six-count charge bordering on failure to declare assets and money laundering.

The EFCC had on Feb. 3, 2017, raided Yakubu’s house, located on Chikun Road, Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State, where it claimed to have recovered 9,772, 800 dollars and 74,000.00 pounds.

When EFCC closed its case after calling seven witnesses, Yakubu, rather than open his defence, elected to file a no-case submission claiming he had no case to answer.

He argued that the essential elements of the charge brought against him were not proven by the prosecution to warrant him entering a defence.

He maintained that the evidence led by the prosecution’s seven witnesses did not establish a case against him to require him to defend himself.

He prayed the court to strike out the charge and discharge and acquit him.

Meanwhile the court also adjourned until April 1, to rule on an application by Yakubu seeking leave of the court to travel abroad for medical treatment.

Over N1.3trn stolen in four years by 32 individuals, firms —Magu

The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu has claimed that 32 individuals and corporate organizations in the country looted over N1.3 trillion between 2011 and 2015.

He stated that one-third of the money could have been used to construct over 500km of roads; build close to 200 schools; educate about 4000 children from primary to tertiary levels at N25million per child and build 20,000 units of two-bedroom houses across the country.

Magu disclosed this in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 2019 First Batch Conversion Training Programme to Procurement Cadre for Federal Parastatals and Agencies, organised by the Bureau of Public Procurement, in Lagos on Monday.

The EFCC boss in the paper delivered on his behalf by the Commission’s Secretary, Ola Olukoyede, decried the huge financial loss to the country, blaming the poor state of the procurement process in Nigeria for corruption which he said had continued to thrive in government agencies and parastatals.

He said, “One third of this money (#1.3trn), using World Bank rates and cost, could have comfortably been used to construct well over 500km of roads; build close to 200 schools; educate about 4000 children from primary to tertiary levels at N25million per child; build 20,000 units of two-bedroom houses across the country and do even more.

“The cost of this grand theft, therefore, is that these roads, schools and houses will never be built and these children will never have access to quality education because a few rapacious individuals had cornered for themselves what would have helped secure the lives of the future generations, thereby depriving them of quality education and healthcare, among others.”

The acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, said in a statement that Magu further noted that the training organised by the BPP was aimed at giving the participants the tools, knowledge and understanding they would need to carry out their duties in their respective places of primary assignments in an efficient and transparent manner.

“I sincerely hope that at the end of this training, we will see a few cases of financial propriety in our procurement processes in government agencies and parastatal; Indeed, corruption could kill Nigeria, if we do not scale up our proficiency in contract and procurement management process,” Magu said.

He further observed that the establishment of the EFCC in 2003 was borne out of the determination of the Federal Government to combat fraudulent activities of some Nigerians and foreigners, mismanagement in the economic sector, corruption by public officials and lack of accountability and transparency in government dealings.

He identified some of the fraudulent practices in procurement processes to include kickbacks, conflict of interests, fraud in the bidding process, bid suppression, collusive bidding, bid rotation and market division.

Others, according to him are co-mingling of contracts, change order abuse, cost mischarging, defective pricing, false statement and claim, phantom vendors, product substitution, unnecessary purchases and  purchases for personal use or resale.

Magu expressed confidence that Nigeria still had patriotic and credible individuals who would do all within their abilities to uphold the credibility and honesty required for leadership in public offices.

Alleged $205m fraud: Judge’s absence stalls arraignment of ex-NIA DG , wife

The absence of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court in Lagos, Monday, stalled the arraignment of former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ayo Oke; and his wife, Folashade, over $205m crime concealment.

The defendants were charged before Justice Aneke by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on counts of money laundering, fraud, concealment of crime proceeds, and criminal breach of trust.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the case which was earlier billed for the arraignment of the defendants, was on Monday, further adjourned to a date that would be communicated to parties, as the court did not sit.

The judge is said to be away on an official assignment.

On February 7, the court had issued a bench warrant for the arrest and production in court of the defendants, following an application moved by the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo.

According to the charge, on April 12, 2017, the accused indirectly concealed the sum of $43.5m, property of the Federal Government of Nigeria in Flat 7B, No. 16, Osborne Road, Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Grass-cutting scandal: EFCC re-arraigns ex-SGF Babachir Lawal, three others

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has re-arraigned a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and three others before Justice Jude Okeke of a Federal Capital Territory High Court, Maitama.

Lawal along with his younger brother, Hamidu  Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh  Monday and two companies, Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies Ltd, were re-arraigned on Monday on an amended 10-count charge bordering on fraud, diversion of funds and criminal conspiracy to the tune of over N500 million.

They were earlier arraigned before Justice Okeke on February 13, 2019, and the prosecution was meant to open its case.

At the resumed hearing, counsel for the EFCC, Offem Ukett, told the court that the charges against them had been amended, adding that they had to take a fresh plea.

However, citing Section 218 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA 2015, Akin Olujimi, SAN, counsel for Lawal, argued that “before the charge is taken, the prosecution ought to have filed the amended charge to ensure that it was properly endorsed.”

Other defence counsels aligned themselves with the submission of Olujimi.

Justice Okeke, while ordering the prosecution to comply with the section cited by Olujimi, however, ruled that in the interim, the amended charges should be read to the defendants.

One of the counts read, “That you, Babachir David Lawal, while being the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and a director of Rholavision Engineering Ltd on or about August 22, 2016 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did knowingly hold indirectly private interest in the contract awarded to Josmon Technological Ltd. but executed by Rholavision Engineering Ltd. for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N258,132,735.99 by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation through the Presidential Initiative for North East and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

A statement by the acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, said the accused persons pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the amended charges.

The defence team, thereafter, prayed the court to allow the defendants to continue with the bail earlier granted them by the court.

Okeke granted the request of the defence and adjourned the matter to April 11 for the commencement of trial, noting that he granted the request due to the amendment of the charges.

The court had earlier granted the defendants bail in the sum of N50m with one surety in like sum, who must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court, and must be an owner of landed property within the jurisdiction of the court with evidence of three years tax payment.

The international passports of the defendants were also ordered to be deposited with the court.

My asset declaration forms were tampered with, says Onnoghen

Walter Onnoghen, suspended chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), says his two asset declarations forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) were tampered with.

Speaking through his counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, at his resumed trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja on Monday, the suspended CJN said the forms he submitted in 2014 and 2016 were mutilated and in loose form.

Onnoghen is currently being tried by the CCT on a six-count charge of non-declaration of some of his assets, although he said it was an oversight.

James Akpala, a senior investigation officer with the CCB, had requested to tender the asset forms investigated by the agency.

When Awomolo asked Onnoghen to confirm the document before it is admitted, the former CJN said it had been doctored.

Akpala, however, narrated how the bureau responded to a petition from the Centre for Anti-Corruption Initiative, signed by one Denis Aghanya, on January 10.

He said his team got a statement from Onnoghen and applied for his account details with his bank, while the team concluded the investigation within 24 hours.

While being cross-examined, Akpala declined comment on if he was aware that the charges, evidence and witnesses against Onnoghen were prepared and signed on January 10, the same day the petition was signed, which was even before the conclusion of the investigation on January 11.

He also said that he was not aware if the bureau had a central registry and register where all returned forms were stored.

Also, Akpala refused to comment when he was shown that the financial statement he said he got from Onnoghen’s bank was addressed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), having denied earlier that the anti-graft agency was involved in the investigation.

The CCT later adjourned till Thursday to allow Onnoghen appear before the National Judicial Council (NJC).

EFCC raids Onnoghen’s Nasarawa farm, seizes documents

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Saturday raided the farm of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, making away with sales books, receipt booklets, its members of staff list and other documents.

It was learnt that about nine EFCC operatives, a cameraman and policemen in a Nissan bus marked Abuja BWR 627AT raided Wanogan Farms Limited located in the Masaka area of Nasarawa State around 3pm and searched the entire premises for over three hours.

A relative of the CJN told our correspondent that the EFCC operatives seized all the phones of the workers to prevent them from taking photographs of the operation.

He said they searched the store houses, water tanks in search of dollars.

The relative said, “We were at the farm on Saturday afternoon when operatives of the EFCC arrived in a white Nissan bus marked Abuja BWR627AT. They forced their way into the premises, harassing everyone.

“No document was presented to the manager under the claims that the EFCC doesn’t need a search warrant. They searched his office and made away with a list of staff members from around February last year.

“The manager was then made to write and sign a document that nowhere was broken into, and nothing was taken. The supervisor was made to countersign. Both were made to do this under duress.

“The cashier was then harassed and made to turn over the sales record and all receipts and invoices in his keeping. He was also made to write an undertaking releasing the sales book to them under duress and made to write his name and designation.”

He said the EFCC men harassed the human resources director over the phone and requested that the company’s invoices be turned over to the EFCC.

The suspended CJN had written a petition to the Inspector-General of Police, alleging that some men posing as herdsmen invaded his farm on February 1, 2019, asking residents if they had witnessed any suspicious activities.

It was learnt that after the petition, security officials who had been carrying out surveillance on the property, decided to formally search the farm.

The relative added, “These people alleged that Onnoghen had 55 houses but when they realised that he had only one house; they decided to start looking for evidence.

“They claimed he had foreign accounts but when it was time to provide evidence to the NJC, they realised that it was only domiciliary accounts he had which is not the same as foreign accounts. Now, they are looking for evidence when the matter is already in court.”

The EFCC, it was learnt, decided to raid Onnoghen’s farm with a view to investigating claims by the embattled CJN that most of the monies that passed through his accounts were from his farm business.

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit had sent a report to the EFCC revealing the identities of firms that paid $3m into the bank accounts of Onnoghen.

According to the document, Onnoghen received such huge sums of money despite the fact that his salary and allowances were between N240, 202 and N751, 082.37 from 2005 to 2018.

EFCC rearraigns Saraki’s aide Makanjuola, two others over N3.5bn fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday rearraigned Gbenga Makanjuola, a Deputy Chief of Staff to Senate President Bukola Saraki before Justice Maureen Onyetenu of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on an amended 11-count charge bordering on alleged conspiracy, accepting cash payment beyond threshold and money laundering to the tune of N3.5billion.

Makanjuola is charged alongside Kolawole Shittu, cashier to the Senate; Robert Chidozie Mbonu, a former Managing Director, Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, who is at large; Melrose General Services Limited; and Obiora Amobi, Operation Manager, Melrose General Services Limited.

At the resumption of hearing, EFCC counsel Bashir Kamil informed the court that Wednesday was slated for the rearraignment of the defendants due to the transfer of Justice Babs Kuewumi, who was handling the case earlier.

Justice Kuewumi was among the judges transferred out of Lagos early this year.

Justice Onyetenu ordered that the charge be read to defendants for their plea to be taken.

One of the counts read: “That you, Gbenga Makanjuola, sometime in December 2016 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did accept cash payment of the sum of $500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Dollars Only) from Kolawole Shittu without going through a financial institution and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No. 1 of 2012) and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.”

Another count read:  “That you, Robert Chidozie Mbonu (now at large) and Melrose General Services Limited between the 14th day of December, 2016 and January 2017 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, took control of the sum of N3,500,000,000.00 (Three Billion, Five Hundred Million Naira Only) transferred from the Nigerian Governors’ Forum’s account into Access Bank Plc account number 0005892453 by Melrose General Services Limited, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund represented the proceeds of lawful activities to wit-conspiracy, stealing and fraud, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (9) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended by the Act No.1, 2012) and punishable under Section 15( 3) of the same Act.”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.

In view of their pleas, Bashir Kamil, the prosecution counsel, asked the court for a trial date.

However, Okwudili Anozie, counsel to the second and fourth defendants, holding the brief of Paul Erokoro (SAN), applied that the court should allow defendants continue on the bail earlier granted by Justice Babs Kuewumi who was transferred out of Lagos earlier this year.

Also, Omeoga Chukwu, counsel to the third defendant, urged the court to allow his client continue on the existing bail.

Consequently, Justice Maureen Onyetenu granted the defendant application to continue on the existing bail earlier granted and adjourned till May 20, 21 and 22 for trial.

The EFCC had submitted a report to President Muhammadu Buhari linking the Senate President and some of his aides to the diversion of the sum of N19billion from the N522.74billion Paris Club refund.

In December 2016, the Nigerian government approved the sum of N522.74billion to be paid to the 36 states of the federation as part of the reimbursement of the over-deduction on the Paris Club loan from 1995 to 2002.

However, the EFCC discovered that the loan refunds were illegally diverted through the account of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Investigation revealed that following the receipt of the fund, the NGF, in alleged connivance with Saraki, remitted huge sums of money to private consultants who eventually laundered about N19billion.

Investigation further revealed that a sum of N3.5billion was allegedly lodged into Melrose General Services’ company account number 0005892453 domiciled in Access Bank from the NGF.