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N3bn scam: Oyo-Ita begs to retire honourably

As the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) steps up investigation into a N3 billion contract scam, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, has pleaded that the case against her be stepped down.

The number one civil servant is begging that she should be allowed to “retire honourably.”

Although she admitted introducing some people to some Permanent Secretaries for assistance, she said she was doing so “without realizing the implication.”

She said she does not own proxy companies under any guise and has no many upscale assets in Abuja.

She said although she collected Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) without traveling, the indulgence was not a regular occurrence.

She also alleged that the EFCC had planned to arraign her on August 19 but she had to remain in a hospital to take care of her health.

Her plea came against the filling of witness forms by some Permanent Secretaries and Directors of Finance and Administration in order to testify against some contracts when the formal trial of some suspects begins.

Detectives have also discovered that the Project Accountant, in whose account N600 million was found, is on Grade Level 12.

Oyo-Ita, however, said the Accountant in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) was not her aide but he reports to a Director of Finance and Administration who also reports to a Permanent Secretary before the Head of Service comes into the picture.

The foregoing snippets are contained in Oyo-Ita’s plea to those she is begging to intercede on her behalf before President Muhammadu Buhari.

A part of the snippets saw her saying: “Please, please, please, have mercy on me. I am begging for mercy that this case against me should be stepped down and I should be allowed to retire honourably.

“I do not own proxy companies. Several people came to me to introduce them to Permanent Secretaries. I have been doing this without realising the implication.”

On DTA, two top shots who are mediating on her behalf said she confessed to have collected these estacodes without traveling only “a few times.”

One of the sources, a former bureaucrat, quoted her as saying: “Due to work pressure, I am not able to travel after collecting DTA or estacodes.”

The source added: “She wants soft-landing from the Presidency because some of the contracts under investigation predated her appointment as the Head of Service. They were awarded between 2013 and 2014. “Her greatest fears border on alleged moves by the EFCC to put her on trial alongside a former minister. “She said there was an initial plan to arraign her in court on August 19 but for providence that she was in the hospital for medical treatment.”

A second source, who is one of the strong supporters of the President, said: “She evoked much emotion when she was begging for mercy. “Apart from reliving the past, especially PTF days with President Muhammadu Buhari, she said she has been ‘absolutely loyal’ to this administration.

“She also said the Project Accountant is not her aide at all despite the fact that he is a staff in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

“Her argument is that the Project Accountant with N600 million in his account reports to a Director of Finance and Administration who also reports to a Permanent Secretary before the Head of Service is in the picture.

“We have done our best to lay all the cards on the table before the powers that be. It is left for the President to determine her fate in the light of the investigation report of the anti-graft commission and her defence.”

No record of her resignation, says Presidency

On the circumstances surrounding her resumption yesterday, there were rumours that the Presidency might have rejected her plans to either resign or retire. It was learnt that the Head of Service confided in the staff in her office that the Presidency directed her to go ahead with her work pending the conclusion of investigation.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said last night: “We are not aware of any letter of resignation. There is no record of it in the registry. So, questions pertaining to it ought not to arise.”

At press time, there were indications that the anti-graft agency had uncovered that the OHCSF officer with N600 million in his account is on Grade Level 12.

A reliable source said: “So far, we have discovered that he is a GL 12 officer. He is answering questions on how he came about such a huge amount in his account.

“Officially, the amount allowed in any project account at any time is between N10 million and N15 million. The ongoing investigation might reveal the real purpose for keeping such a huge cash.

“We have various bends to the investigation and some Permanent Secretaries and Directors of Finance and Administration have filled the witness form to testify on some contracts when a formal trial of suspects begins.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “We may still invite Oyo-Ita for interrogation. The amount involved is huge.”

EFCC, ICPC to beam searchlight on fraudulent banks —Malami

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Thursday, said the anti-corruption agencies would beam their searchlight on banks that had been aiding corrupt practices in the country.

He said the Federal Government, through his ministry, would work closely with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to ensure that banks involved in corrupt practices are sanctioned.

Speaking during his first full day in office in Abuja after his Wednesday’s re-appointment as the AGF, Malami also promised to pursue judicial reforms, including proposing an amendment to the Constitution, that would provide an innovative way to tackle congestion of cases at the Supreme Court.

On financial institutions’ involvement in corruption, he said, “As bad news to the rogues within our financial system, in the next four years, the Federal Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with anti-corruption agencies, will beam searchlight on the financial institutions and non-designated financial institutions in order to make them pay dearly for the dastardly roles they played and are still playing in encouraging and deepening corruption in Nigeria.

“From arms procurement fraud, INEC bribery case to Diezani case and several others, quantitative data available to the Federal Government abundantly shows that financial institutions are directly involved in most of the major corruption cases investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission from 2015 till date.

 

 

Ambode: CACOL cautions EFCC against selective investigation

 

The Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), Mr. Debo Adeniran, has faulted the action of the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to allow themselves be used by some perceived political enemies to raid the country home of former Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode in Epe.

Adeniran spoke on Thursday during an interview on Arise TV’s Morning Show, where he picked holes in the selective method of the investigation by the anti-corruption agency.

Recall that on Tuesday, EFCC raided the residence of Ambode in Ikoyi and Epe over allegations of corruption allegations leveled against him, but could not find anything incriminating.

“That account we were told is the account of the Lagos State government. It is not a functional account for the former governor or anybody in that government and that because it has to be operated. Nobody is above the law actually and we are not saying that if any corruption issues are developed against the former governor, Akinwunmi Ambode that he should not be investigated or brought before justice.

“The reason why we have to believe that you have to connect with it is that, that is the only corruption allegation that has been leveled against the former governor. And we don’t have anything against that if on reasonable ground that have reasons to believe that maybe the cash is starched in that house just like that found in Osborne’s house, Falomo, Ikoyi or shopping complex. They could raid the place and they can break it down if they refuse to open the place. But then you have to have reasonable reasons to do that. Unfortunately, Epe youths might be too zealous to protect one of their own, that might be the reason.

“But we were told that they actually penetrated the premises and did the search and even going by the account of the young lawyers they said that they insisted that they needed to witness the search. And they actually search the searchers before they started the operation. At the end of the day, they never found anything incriminating in that house except for a stark of files. And those stark of files we wouldn’t know if they suspected that it contains documents, but they could have checked it to find out the contents of those files so that if the files contain secret documents they could have easily tell the world what they have found in the house.

But since there is no incident, it means it’s only normal that people would think it was maliciously done. We believe that EFCC as an anti-corruption agency shouldn’t have allowed itself to be used. Of course, they need to investigate all petitions that have been sent to them,” Adeniran explained.

 

EFCC: Our operatives were attacked by Ambode’s hoodlums

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says its operatives were attacked by hoodlums loyal to Akinwunmi Ambode, former governor of Lagos, on Tuesday.

The anti-graft agency had gone to execute a search warrant on Ambode’s residence in his hometown, Epe.

Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC’s head of media and publicity, said in a statement on Tuesday evening that the commission “had obtained valid warrant to conduct search on Ambode’s residences in Park View, Ikoyi and country home in Epe, as part of ongoing investigation of alleged malfeasance”.

He said the operatives were attacked and prevented from executing the search warrant in Epe by “irate youths” who injured three officers and damaged the EFCC official vehicle.

“The attack was totally unprovoked as the Commission’s operatives were civic and did not molest anybody. The Commission therefore frowns at the attempt to manipulate the video of the search to create the wrong impression that officers of the agency molested residents at the Epe home of the governor. It is also not true that the search was an attempt to plant foreign currencies in the home of the former governor,” he said.

The agency had earlier denied carrying out a raid on Ambode’s residence, insisting that its operatives were on a legitimate duty.

A group of lawyers had also alleged that the EFCC wanted to planted incriminating evidence at Ambode’s house in Epe.

EFCC: Our operatives were attacked by Ambode’s hoodlums

Ex-INEC boss, Maurice Iwu narrates EFCC ordeal

Professor Maurice Iwu, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, has finally spoken about his recent ordeal in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC.

According to Iwu, “The journey I have found myself on began brewing on February 23rd, 2019 when I was deprived of my civic duty of voting in the Presidential Election as a result of EFCC “investigations”. From the seizure of my international passport that February till this recent ordeal with actual charges and detention, God’s goodness has remained manifest as I recite “Te Deum” in Thanksgiving.”

The Former INEC chairman thanked “Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora for their enormous show of concern, support and the spiritual discipline (for not crucifying me before my day in the court of law). My gratitude to Ndi Igbo, umu Imo, Okigwe indigenes (both at home and abroad), clergy from various denominations, especially of the Catholic faith, which I belong to. The support were not just in words of encouragement, but more in actions of prayers, for in it all the glory of God was made manifest. Though I ask the same question Ps. 4:2a stated “How long, Oh men will you turn my glory into shame?”

“Whenever persecution comes my way, I become more aware that God does not forsake His own indeed, and I’m encouraged by Ps. 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.”

He said “Despite the challenges, I bow in honour and humility the Grace God has offered and continues to afford me and my family.

“Even with a spirit charged by the timeless words of Rudyard Kipling in his timeless poem “If” (1943).

“More than ever before, with what I have passed through within the last months, I embrace the ever reassuring grace and presence of the Holy spirit, which affords my soul to appreciate the professionalism and dignity of many of the staff and persons at the EFCC detention centre, Judiciary and the Ikoyi prisons. It could only be God.

“With a humble spirit, I plead for well meaning Nigerians to await the court trial and due process in this matter that would allow me to share my side of the story and equally bring to light the testimonies of this journey of immense grace and revelation.

“It is noteworthy, that none of the charges against me has to do with my tenure as Chairman of INEC. And to the scientific community, please be assured that this would not negatively affect the several ongoing work by Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) in contributing to the discovery and development of phytomedicines for tropical and emergent diseases, and the use of our world-class research facility for the standardization of African Medicinal Plants.

“I would like to acknowledge my beloved family, friends and my legal team for their support, hard work, solidarity and prayers. God heard all of you and never left me. The darkness that has enveloped the day is not yet over, please remain steadfast.

Iwu was released from Ikoyi Prisons after meeting the stringent N1bn bail granted him by the Federal High Court, Lagos, last week.

The court granted him bail after he was docked last week Thursday before Justice Chuka Obiozor by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a four-count charge bordering on money laundering although Realnews found out that there are other reasons for his trial which may be inherently politically motivated.

Realnews suggested in a report that prosecution of Iwu was because of the ongoing case at the Presidential Election Tribunal where Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is challenging the victory of President Muhammad Buhari at the presidential election in February 23. His traducers believed that he is the one advising Atiku on how to wage his case on the transmission of results of the February 23, presidential election through the INEC server. Although INEC has denied the existence of such server, it is believed that it was installed during the time Iwu presided over the commission as its chairman. It is alleged that he employed and trained all the staff manning the department who may have provided him information which he passed on to the Atiku Campaign Organisation.

Another grudge his traducers have against him is the alleged role he played in influencing the Ohaneze to support Peter Obi as the vice presidential candidate of PDP.

Also, Realnews gathered that the money Iwu was alleged to have laundered was the fund the federal government gave for research on prevention of Ebola during the outbreak of the disease in the country in 2014. Sources told Realnews that the disease was quickly contained in Nigeria because the fund was deployed to achieve the objective of the federal government to contain the spread of the disease in the country. As at the time of his arrest, there was no money relating to the fund found in Iwu’s account or that of his company, Bioresources, the source said.

According to the source, who craved anonymity, the prosecutors are also urging Iwu to implicate former President Goodluck Jonathan in order for him to be set free. The insistence of the prosecutors on this line of action led to an angry altercation between the EFCC official and Iwu during his interrogation. Iwu was said to have asked the EFCC official how he expected him at his age and background to implicate somebody who committed no offence and for what gain.

Realnews reports that Iwu’s travails with the EFCC started early this year during the elections when he was invited for questioning but was released to go on self recognition and directed to report regularly to the commission until his current arrest and prosecution. It was then rumoured that his arrest was to prevent him from influencing the outcome of elections in Imo, his home state, where the indigenes were battling to ensure that Rochas Okorocha, former governor, did not return his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu as the governor of the state.

EFCC tried to plant evidence on Ambode – Epe lawyers

 

Some young legal practitioners have claimed that officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission attempted to plant implicating evidence during a search of the Ikoyi home of former Lagos governor,  Akinwunmi Ambode earlier on Tuesday.

In a statement issued on Tuesday,  th he lawyers gave a detailed account of what transpired at Ambode’s Park View apartment.

 

Below is the full statement:

At early hours of today, we were duly briefed that some officers of the EFCC invaded the apartment of the Former Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Akinwunmi Ambode with the intention to search the premises.

We got to the scene and met with the officials of the EFCC to inquire whether they have a search warrant to search the premises of the Ex Governor.

Having confirmed the Search Warrant, the EFCC officials told us that nobody will follow them in as they will only go in alone. We resisted as young Lawyers and stated expressly that the principle of search is that the owner of the premises of his representatives must be present to observe the search.

They succumbed to our superior argument and allowed us and the people who has the key to the Ex Governor’s house into the apartment with them. Before they entered, we searched all the officials of the EFCC who intended to go in to effect the search.

There was a blue bag which they were holding with them, we requested to see the content of the bag before they could take it in. They got angry and said we cannot see the content. Having said that, we strongly resisted them to take it in since they cant allow us to see it, which they later agreed. We later got to know that the bag contained foreign currency which they brought to plant in the house of the Ex Governor to incriminate him.

It is important to inform the public that before the entered the house, we all submitted our phones to them as they requested that the only person required to go in with phone is one of them who will record the whole process.

All documents, including the State Executive Exco Meetings Vol 1 – 16 in the personal study of the Ex Governor and His Luggage room which they intended to take along with them for further investigation was resisted by us as we told them that failure to take records of all the documents from A-Z, they cannot go out with anything and they agreed with us.

Flowing from the aforesaid, they searched the nooks and crannies of the Ex Governor’s house and they couldn’t find any incriminating documents or materials. We authoritatively assert that, they did find anything in the house and they didn’t leave the house with anything.

We followed them as they entered from one place to the other, when our presence was intimidating them, they said we should sit down while they will do the search. We resisted that we must follow them to observe every of their activities in the premises.

To our greatest consternation, the officials of EFCC led by Rotimi Oyedepo, Esq held on to our phones and told us to follow them to their office in Ikoyi to get our phones. All efforts to get back our phones was abortive as the EFCC officials led by Rotimi Oyedepo, Esq rushed into their white Hiace Bus with our phones and instructed that since we have resisted their efforts to take “the said blue bag” into the main premises of the Ex Governor, they will hold on to the phone. Thus, almost six (6) phones were forcefully taken away, iPhones inclusive.

It is our happiness as Young Lawyers in Epe to be part of the process to legally and successfully resist the EFCC from incriminating the Ex Governor with the blue bag they brought with them from an unknown destination, and we also compelled them to conduct the search within the ambit of the law. Hence, the success.

We are sincerely elated that our presence really helped a long way to legally and successfully expose the intention of the EFCC to incriminate the Ex Governor. To this end, we are ready to challenge the search as they have gone beyond standard and the search warrant in this regard successfully whisking our phones away.

Thank you for listening and God bless you.

Signed.

Fatai A. Adebanjo, Esq.

Busari M. Olanrewaju, Esq.

Samson K. Okuneye, Esq.

APC reacts to EFCC raid on Ambode’s home

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has reacted to the search conducted by the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) at the Epe home of a former governor of Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode.

Ambode left office on May 29 after serving a single four-year term and is believed to be under investigation for alleged corruption.

The former governor’s residence in his hometown, Epe was searched around 9:35 a.m.

The residence of his former chief of staff was also searched in the same Epe town of Lagos State.

Two weeks earlier, multiple bank accounts holding billions of naira and linked to Ambode were frozen as part of the probe.

While Ambode has denied links to both the accounts and any allegations of corruption while in office, the EFCC said whatever it was doing with regards to the investigation “is in line with its mandate and the rule of law.”

Reacting to this development, the APC spokesperson, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said “there are no sacred cows”

He said this in a telephone interview on Tuesday afternoon.

“It is about time we knew that the APC government is not joking with its commitment to fight corruption in whatever form it is. This government has demonstrated that there are no sacred cows”, he said.

“The naysayer can continue to say what they like but they must be ashamed of themselves by now, knowing that on daily basis, the anti-corruption agencies are proving them wrong,” Mr Issa-Onilu said.

When asked if the party was in support of the move against Mr Ambode, he said: “We are not specific about any issue. The fight against corruption is our own policy and there are no sacred cows. We just hope that the allegation against former governor Ambode is not true. If true, this APC government will not bend the rule for any personalities.”

He maintained that corruption fight is the “cardinal principle of the APC.”

Ambode reacts to EFCC search, says no cause for alarm

 

Former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Tuesday urged his supporters and the general public to remain calm and law-abiding as there was no cause for alarm.

Ambode, in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Habib Aruna, spoke on the backdrop of a search by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on his Epe Country home and Parkview Ikoyi residence, where the anti-graft agency conducted the exercise without any incident.

He said the Commission, till date, has not opened any direct communication with him on any issue, adding that he was ready and willing to respond if or when they do so.

The statement reads: “This morning, operatives of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission visited the Epe Country home and Parkview Ikoyi residence of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, former Governor of Lagos State, with warrants to conduct a search. These searches were carried out extensively and at the end of the exercise the operatives left without any incident.

“The former Governor reiterates that the EFCC has till date not had any direct communication with him on any subject matter whatsoever and if or when it occurs he is ready and willing to respond.

“The former governor wishes to assure his supporters and the generality of Lagosians to continue to remain calm and law-abiding as there is no cause for alarm.”

The former governor reiterated his belief in the rule of law and due process and remains grateful for the opportunity to have served Lagos State diligently and conscientiously.

It would be recalled that Ambode, in an earlier response to allegations by the EFCC that it had frozen certain accounts linked to him, insisted that no account of his contained N9.9bn let alone being frozen by the Commission as those accounts were opened and operated by the Lagos State Government.

 

JUST IN: EFCC raids Ambode’s residence

Agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raided the residence of Akinwunmi Ambode, former governor of Lagos state, in Epe area of the state, on Tuesday.

Tony Orilade, EFCC spokesman, confirmed this to TheCable.

He said the anti-graft agency had received petitions against the governor, and that it was investigating his administration.

”Yes, we received petitions regarding the governor, and we are investigating,” he said on Tuesday.

When asked if agents of the commission were at the residence of the former governor, he said: ” Yes, that is part of the investigation.”

A federal high court in Lagos had ordered the freezing of three bank accounts allegedly linked to the former governor over a N9.9 billion fraud following an ex parte application by the EFCC.

The accounts are domiciled in First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Access Bank, and Zenith Bank with numbers 5617984012, 0060949275 and 1011691254 respectively

The EFCC had prayed the court to freeze the accounts pending the conclusion of an investigation and possible prosecution of Adewale Adesanya, permanent secretary in the office of the chief of staff to the governor of the state, for money laundering.

Kungmi Daniel, a member of the EFCC investigating team, said the anti-graft agency discovered “a huge inflow of N9,927,714,443.29” from the state accounts into an FCMB bank account opened on September 17, 2018 during the administration of Ambode.

He said the account was operated by Adesanya.

Ambode denied operating those accounts, saying he had no personal links to them.

“Those accounts were opened in the course of normal operations by the Lagos state government for its administrative purposes and not for the former governor’s personal transactions as was being wrongly insinuated and have been operated to ensure smooth operations of government activities by previous and present administrations,” he had said in a statement issued by Habib Aruna, his media aide.

“The former governor was not and will never be involved in any unauthorised use of government property and resources.”

Diezani asks court to order EFCC to release $40m jewellery

A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has urged the court to order the return of her 2,149 pieces of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone, valued at $40m, which were seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Diezani, who is currently in the United Kingdom, accused the EFCC of entering her apartment illegally and taking the items without any court order.

She said the anti-graft agency violated her fundamental “right to own property and to appropriate them at her discretion,” under sections 43 and 44 of the Constitution.

She urged the court to reject the prayer by the EFCC to permanently forfeit the jewellery and the gold iPhone to the Federal Government.

These were contained in an application filed on her behalf by Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN), before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The EFCC had, on July 5, 2019, secured an order of the court temporarily forfeiting the jewellery and the gold iPhone to the Federal Government.

The anti-graft agency told the court that it found and recovered the jewellery and the customised gold iPhone “on the premises of the respondent;” adding that it reasonably suspected that the former minister acquired them with “proceeds of unlawful activities.”

According to the schedule attached to the application, the jewellery, categorised into 33 sets, include “419 expensive bangles; 315 expensive rings; 304 expensive earrings; 267 expensive necklaces; 189 expensive wristwatches; 174 expensive necklaces and earrings; 78 expensive bracelets; 77 expensive brooches; and 74 expensive pendants.”

The EFCC asserted “the respondent’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the properties sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

After granting the interim forfeiture order on July 5, the court adjourned till August 19 for Diezani or anyone interested in the jewellery and gold iPhone to appear before it to give reasons why the items should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

But in the application filed on her behalf by Kalu (SAN), Diezani, contended that the court lacked jurisdiction to have granted the interim forfeiture order in the first place, as she had not been charged with any crime or served with any summons by the EFCC.

She stressed that the entry into her apartment by EFCC operatives was illegal as it was without a court order.

The lawyer added that the temporary forfeiture order was prejudicial to Diezani because she was denied fair hearing.

The application, which was scheduled to be argued on Monday (today), was, however, stalled as Kalu was unable to come to court.

A lawyer from his chambers, Chukwuka Obidike, told the court that the SAN was engaged in election petitions, and prayed for an adjournment.

Justice Nichola Oweibo adjourned the case till August 29.

EFCC investigating how P&ID deal was approved

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele says the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating the approval of the Process and Industrial Development gas processing deal.

Emefiele made this known on Monday while fielding questions from journalists on Monday before the commencement of the presidential retreat for ministers-designate at the State House Conference Centre.

“I am not scared at all and I think it is also important that this question has come up,” he responded when asked if he was scared of the impact of the judgement of the nation’s foreign reserves.

A British court had given P&ID the go-ahead to seize Nigerian assets worth $9 billion over the government’s inability to meet its side of an agreement to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River.

“Since the news about the judgement broke out late on Friday, we have been discussing with our counsels, and they have advised that there are sufficient and strong grounds on the basis of which we could file a stay of execution and also an appeal against that judgement.

“There are certain anomalies in the process leading to the award of that contract which is currently being looked into by the EFCC and I believe that the EFCC themselves have their own investigation reports about that.

“So, we will follow through and aggressively too on ensuring that the execution of that judgement is stayed and that the appeal succeeds at every level both within Nigeria and abroad.”

In a statement released on Saturday, Reno Omokri, an ex-aide to former president Goodluck Jonathan, had alleged that a cabal loyal to now-deceased former president Umar Musa Yar’adua signed the deal in January 2010 while Jonathan became acting president in February of the same year.

Emefiele assured that the CBN will move strongly to defend the country’s reserves as the judgement would have some impact on monetary policy.

“It is important for me to use this opportunity to assure our friends, local and foreign investors who called to expressed solidarity with us, not to express concern but to say that there is no need for anybody to worry. We know that the implication of that judgement has some impact on monetary policy and that is why the CBN is going to step forward and very strongly too to ensure that we defend the country and defend the reserves of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

EFCC probes FIRS staff accounts over N1.2bn fraud

As part of its investigation into the N1.2bn duty tour allowance fraud in the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has commenced a forensic analysis of the bank accounts of the staff members.

Sunday PUNCH gathered on Friday that EFCC detectives had obtained details of the bank accounts of FIRS staff and were carrying out a painstaking forensic investigation into “the financial inflows and outflows” in the various accounts in different commercial banks.

It was gathered that the aim of the detectives was to know the depth of the malfeasance perpetrated by the top echelons of the revenue agency in the last four years.

The commission, in April, 2019, recovered part of the DTA allowance from the beneficiaries who refunded millions of naira.

Following the development, the commission widened its investigation into the contracts awarded by the agency since the FIRS Chairman, Babatunde Fowler, assumed office in 2015.

Our correspondent had reported how Fowler attempted to influence the acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, to drop the ongoing investigation into the sleaze in the FIRS, but the anti-graft agency boss resisted the pressure.

The commission subsequently mobilised different teams to investigate the contract awards and estacode payment for foreign trips by the FIRS management.

Head of the FIRS Coordinator Support Services Group, Peter Hena, who allegedly authorised the illegal payment had reportedly made revealing statements during investigation about how the DTA fraud was perpetrated.

The FIRS Director of Finance, Mr Mohammed Auta, had similarly informed detectives that he acted on the instructions of Hena to disburse the fund.

He and other beneficiaries were said to have each received as much as N101m; N97m; N89m; N84m, while others received N65m, N52m and N46m as duty tour allowance.

Giving an update on the investigation, a senior official said, “The investigation has progressed, but we are now carrying out a forensic probe of the bank accounts of the FIRS staff to track the inflow and outflow of the monies paid into them as well as the sources of the funds. So far, our investigation has been revealing.”

When asked about the latest development on the investigation, the acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, said, “The investigation is ongoing and we would brief the media at the appropriate time.”

EFCC confiscates HoS, Oyo-Ita’s passports

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has seized the international and diplomatic passports of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, who is under investigation for alleged N3billion fraud.

Mrs. Oyo-Ita’s movement has been restricted to the country pending the conclusion of investigation.

In continuation of the investigation, the EFCC may invite three Permanent Secretaries and some Directors of Procurement for interaction over some contracts awarded to firms with link to the Head of Service.

According to investigation by our correspondent, the EFCC decided to restrict Oyo-Ita’s movement so that she can be available for another round of interrogation.

Although she is hospitalized having complained of being ill, sources said security operatives had been deployed to monitor her movement in the Abuja hospital

A source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The latest about the ongoing investigation is that the EFCC has seized the international and diplomatic passports of the Head of Service.

“In line with normal investigative procedure, we need to restrict her movement to the country to enable her attend more interrogation sessions which have been lined up for her.

“We are monitoring her progress in the hospital until she is stable enough to come for another round of grilling.”

The source added: “We may invite some Permanent Secretaries and others because our investigation shows fresh clues during analysis of letters of award of contracts in some ministries, departments and agencies.

“All the accounts of the affected companies have been placed under watch till they are clear of any infraction.”

It was learnt that prior to her arrest, there had been complaints about Civil Servants’ Group Life Insurance Scheme (GLIS), which the Federal Government voted N16 billion for.

Some civil servants faulted the management of the insurance scheme which they have not benefited from.

It was confirmed that the GLIS was enmeshed in controversy over alleged under-hand deals by some underwriters.

It was gathered that some of those aggrieved have asked the EFCC to look into challenges on GLIS.

Another source added: “The EFCC is aware of issues on GLIS but we have not reached this bend. Our focus is on alleged abuse of office and contract scam involving some proxy companies.

“We will ensure a comprehensive investigation and we will be fair to all. We accorded the Head of Service much respect befitting her status. We will soon release the details of our findings.”

But Mrs. Oyo-Ita explained that she had no hand in the management of the N16 billion.

About two and half weeks ago, she said: “The GLIS was set up to be able to ensure that government meets up with benefits of any civil or public servant who, in the process of doing his work as a civil servant, loses his or her life.

“This GLIS is the policy that is carried out with underwriters; these underwriters are being regulated by the National Insurance Commission (NIC). The NIC regulates premiums that are paid to these underwriters and the last group life programme was actually handled by the sub-committee of cabinet chaired by the then Minister of Finance.

“The report of the sub-committee was submitted to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), and approval was given for that programme to be implemented.

“The fund for that programme is always domiciled with the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

“The only thing that the Head of Service does is to compile the names of all the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) that are to be under the group life policy.

“For someone to say that N16 billion has gone missing in my office is strange to me and to many others who understand how the GLIS works.”

N3bn fraud: EFCC quizzes Head of Service Oyo-Ita

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has quizzed Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita over alleged N3billion contract scam.

She was also interrogated for alleged abuse of duty tour allowance, money laundering and stealing of government funds.

After a four-day grilling during which she was in custody of the anti-graft agency beginning from August 8, Mrs Oyo-Ita has landed in the hospital after being granted an administrative bail. She has been given restricted access to visitors at the private hospital in Jabi area of Abuja where she is receiving treatment.

Although the administrative bail was granted so that she could be reporting for further interrogation from her office, she has not been able to return to the anti-corruption agency’s office since she was allowed to go.

About N600million has been traced to the account of one of her key aides who has been unable to give any justifiable explanation for it.

The EFCC has blocked the account and has initiated the process of obtaining an interim forfeiture clause to seize the cash.

Preliminary findings confirmed that about N3billion has been traced to the Head of Service which came in through proxy companies.

Detectives, it was gathered, uncovered slush funds linked to the Head of Service while probing the activities of a former Minister under who she served as Permanent Secretary.

A source privy to the ongoing investigation said: “Preliminary investigation confirmed that she used different fronts or cronies to obtain contracts from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)

“While tracing embezzlement by the ex-Minister, detectives stumbled on diversion of funds into proxy companies which the Head of Service has relationship with.

“The startling revelations made detectives to dig further into her activities as a Permanent Secretary and Head of Service.

Read Also: Minimum wage increase on table, says Oyo-Ita
“There were proofs of how she secured contracts through proxy firms from some ministries including Special Duties, Power, Works and others. There was a case of abuse of office because there was evidence of pressure on Permanent Secretaries to get her contracts. She moved from one ministry to the other.

“Investigators also discovered that she was involved in falsification of Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) and estacodes

The source added: “About N600million has been traced to the account of one of her aides. This illicit account has been blocked and the EFCC is in the process of invoking interim forfeiture clause.”

Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 empower the anti-graft agency to apply Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause.

“Section 28 of the EFCC Act reads: “Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the court.”

A source with full knowledge of the investigation said: ”We have only covered a fraction of the preliminary findings, she will still have to return after completing her treatment.”

But there was a pall of silence in government circle because of the sensitive nature of the EFCC’s findings.

Top government officials, who were aware of the grilling, kept mute in anticipation of a soft landing for the head of service.

But going by precedent, she is likely to be suspended from office by President Muhammadu Buhari, pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation.

A source added: “Although she is a former official of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) where she worked under President Muhammadu Buhari, the law will take its course if she is indicted by EFCC.

A brief on the Head of Service on the website of the Public Service Institute of Nigeria reads: “Winifred has an impressive and well-documented work experience spanning over 30 years, including being the first female indigenous Managing Director/CEO of Cross River Estates Limited, between 1993 and 1995.

“She later transferred her service to the federal civil service where she was appointed to the rank of Assistant director in July, 1997 and rose to the position of a director, Finance and Accounts in January, 2009 in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

“Mrs. Oyo-Ita Winifred was appointed to the position of Federal Permanent Secretary on the 16th of March, 2013 and posted to the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs as the pioneer Permanent Secretary of the re-established Ministry.

“She was redeployed to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in April, 2014. She was appointed as the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation in acting capacity in October 2015 and confirmed in January 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari.”

EFCC begins probe of Obasanjo’s $16bn power projects

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has begun the probe of the $16 billion power project of the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

There had been conflicting figures on the exact cost of the project as some people put it at $16 billion while others say it is $13.8 billion.

It was gathered last night that the anti-graft agency may arrest key contractors involved in the power project scam which extended beyond the Obasanjo administration into those of former Presidents Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

It was also learnt that about 18 top former and serving public officers, including two ex-ministers, may be questioned.

Also likely to be interrogated by the EFCC are some top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Preliminary investigation revealed that Rockson Engineering Limited got a chunk of the contracts worth about $2 billion.

The findings revealed that the transactions involving the firms implicated in the power contracts were characterised by absence of due diligence.

A reliable source in the anti-graft commission said a team of crack detectives had been put in place to interrogate the people involved in the scam.

The source said: “The operatives of the EFCC have launched a massive investigation into the alleged $16 billion power scam between 2006 and 2011 just as concerted efforts are being made to recover the humongous funds allegedly diverted into private pockets by different firms involved in the power project.

“The whole power project is $16 billion and anchored on generation, transmission and distribution.

“The project is being handled by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC).

“It is instructive to note that the NDPHC belongs to the three tiers of government, namely the Federal Government, state and local governments.

“Investigators also discovered that most of the firms that secured contracts under the power project collected huge sums in naira and dollars but did not perform up to 30 per cent before abandoning the project.

“Incidentally, most of the payments took place during the regimes of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

“The first amount released from the Excess Crude Account was about $8.3 billion.”

Another source claimed that some of the contractors will soon be invited by the EFCC for interrogation.

The source said: “A team of crack detectives has been raised by the commission to get to the roots of the power deal. Some of the key contractors will soon be quizzed.

“One of the major contractors – Rockson Engineering Ltd- is being allegedly taken over by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria.

“From documents available to the commission, Rockson got four contracts and it received over $2 billion in the following tranches: $180 million; $220 million; $240 million and $480 million.

“Rockson also received questionable $11 million and another N150 million.These payments are now under investigation.

“These huge funds were released to Rockson for power generation alone.

“Investigation further revealed that despite the release of the above to Rockson, the firm was only able to execute 30 per cent of the construction.

“The firm also claimed that it imported certain materials since 2013 and lying in Onne Port without clearing.”

It was also gathered last night that the EFCC will look into alleged lapses by some top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The source added: “Lack of due diligence pervaded the transaction while certain officials of the CBN are under probe over certain regulatory flaws.

“Instead of opening Letter of Credit (LOC) in the name of the manufacturers of the equipment for the power project, operatives discovered that the LOC was opened in the name of Rockson.

“Investigation also revealed that instead of the LOC being put in place in Form M (tangibles and specific), the LOC was opened in Form A (intangibles like school fees, medical bills, etc).

An official in the media unit of the EFCC only said: “We will do everything to recover the huge funds and prosecute indicted officials accordingly.”

Investigation revealed that the EFCC might also review issues in the report of the House of Representatives Committee.

The House actually recommended 18 top former and public officers, including two ex-ministers, for investigation by anti-graft agencies, especially EFCC and ICPC.

Many salient issues were raised for investigation by the House Committee, which was headed by Hon. Ndudi Elumelu.

The issues raised by the Elumelu Committee were as follows:

All NIPP payments were made without following Due Process

No meaningful progress was made in the execution of power contracts

Officials rushed to pay contractors in full even before engineering design for the projects had been completed and approved

NIPP contracts were not only overpriced in comparison with PHCN contracts, they were also wide off the mark

Widespread evidence of systematic over-scoping of projects in order to inflate costs both in PHCN and NIPP

NIPP Distribution EPC contracts were awarded at costs averaging about 10 times the norm when compared to PHCN contracts

The Ndudi Elumelu Committee was put in place by the House on January 31, 2008 to look into how much was spent on power projects.

In its report, the committee said that about $13.278 billion was spent on power projects between 1999 and 2007.

The committee recommended termination of 13 contracts and review of 10 projects.

About 15 contracting and consulting companies were asked to be investigated by the appropriate agencies.

The report reads in part: “From the oral and documentary evidence, it was clearly established that the total expenditure in the power sector during the period 1999-2007 was US$13, 278,937,409.94billion.

“Indeed, had the supplementary budget of the power sector in 2007 been implemented, the expenditure could then have been over $16billion reported by the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“There are also unfunded commitments to the tune of US$7.265billion for NIPP projects as at May 29, 2007.

“There is another US $1billion for PHCN capital projects awarded between 2000 and 2007, which have been captured in the 2008 Appropriation Act.

“Additionally, the total commitment of the NNPC and its Joint Venture partners(of which the Federal Government, through the NNPC has an average of 51% interest) towards IPP power plants, gas sources development, gas transmission and metering of JV IPPs, PHCN power plants and NIPP power plants, according to the submission of the acting GMD of the NNPC is US$7billion, out of which about US$1.62billion has been expensed, leaving outstanding commitments of over US$5.5billion out of which the Federal Government will provide about US$3billion.

“Recognition of these unfunded commitments would bring the total (funded and unfunded) FGN expenditure commitments in the power sector to over US$24.5billion between 1999 and 2007.

“From the assessment done during the Committee’s tour of the project sites, it is safe to conclude that no meaningful progress was made in the execution of power contracts.

“It is curious and quite strange that officials rush to pay contractors in full even before engineering design for the projects have been completed and approved.

“NIPP contracts were not only overpriced in comparison with PHCN contracts, they are also wide off the mark when viewed against comparable power stations in several parts of the world.

“A comparable review of the cost of power installations in varied regions of the world such as South Korea, Saudi Arabia, U.S.A, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico and Chile showed that $10billion could have built plants to produce between 5,000 to 6,000 MW of electricity. But this amount failed to do so in Nigeria.

“Unfortunately, all NIPP payments were made without following Due Process. In its place, a process called ‘Waiver of Due Process Certification for Payment’ was adopted in flagrant disregard of Due Process Policy, thus paving the way for dubious and highly risky payments to contractors and consultants by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“The committee found hard and widespread evidence of systematic over scoping of projects in order to inflate costs both in PHCN and NIPP.

“At least 15 transmission lines and substation projects have been identified. For example, the New Haven-Ikot-Ekpene 2x330kv Double Circuit Line was over-scoped by 49% whilst the Afam-Ikot Ekpene 330kv line was over-scoped by more than 100%.

“The estimated aggregate cost inflation identified so far for transmission projects is over N20billion and this is recoverable from contractors.

“A clear example of project cost inflation is the proposed supply of 9No GE frame 9 gas turbines and auxiliaries at the cost of N185billion($1.55billion) awarded to Rockson International.

“In comparison, it is noteworthy that GE supplied 18No turbines of similar specification previously at about $404million, including cost of Technical Assistance (TA) services and Long-Term Service agreements (LTSA). The implicit cost inflation on the additional turbines and associated services exceeds $1.145billion.

“Another example is the costing of the so-called change-order provisions for Alaoji Power Plant (Phase I) at a highly-questionable amount of US$123million.

“NIPP Distribution EPC contracts were awarded at costs averaging about 10 times the norm when compared to PHCN contracts costs for similar projects in the past five years. This 1,000% cost inflation of the NIPP Distribution EPC work scopes translates to an aggregate overpricing of over N50billion.”

Regarding the funding of NIPP projects, the panel says: “The contracts were not funded from any Appropriation Act. What this means is that the National Assembly had no knowledge of the source of the funds of the NIPP projects. All the government functionaries who testified referred to what they termed Excess Crude Account as the source of funding.

“The Committee was not able to determine the level of involvement of the National Assembly in the decision to set up the Excess Crude account. What the committee established is that it was illegal and unconstitutional for such a fund to be established without legislative authorization. Sections 80(3 and 4) of the 1999 Constitution which states clearly.

On the role of the CBN, the panel’s report added: “The committee is perturbed by the failure of the CBN Governor to provide information in respect of Letters of Credit opened and where the money involving over $1billion has been kept all these years

“It is necessary to note that the Central Bank of Nigeria refused to provide the Committee with schedule of utilization and draw-downs on Letters of Credit as well as interest accrued on unutilized balances.

“The committee strongly believes that these monies might be on fixed deposit accounts with some banks.

“In view of the apparent unwillingness of the CBN to cooperate with the Committee in this matter or provide the Committee with a proper account of withdrawals from Excess Crude account, the balance on the account, where the monies in respect of the unutilized Letters of Credit are kept and interest that have accrued thereto, we recommend that the EFCC be invited to investigate the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Central Bank of Nigeria in respect of the above issues relating to Letters of Credit opened.

EFCC arrests Atiku’s lawyer, to charge him with ‘laundering $2m’

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested Uyi Giwa-Osagie, a legal adviser of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, over alleged money laundering.

Osagie was arrested after he honoured an invitation of the anti-graft agency in Lagos on Thursday.

The agency has filed charges over alleged money laundering to the tune of $2 million against Giwa-Osagie.

According to the charge sheet, Osagie made a payment of $2 million without going through any financial institution.

The EFCC said the amount which exceeded what is authorised by law, was meant for the 2019 general election.

Atiku contested the presidential election under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Giwa-Osagie was arrested in the buildup to the 2019 elections.

Here are some of the counts levelled against the lawyer:

Count one

That you UYIEKPEN GlWA-OSAGIE and ERHUNSE GlWA-OSAGIE, sometimes in February, 2019 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired to commit an offence to wit: making cash payment of the sum of $2,000,000.00 (Two Million United State Dollars) without going through financial institution which sum exceeded the ‘ amount authorized by Law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a), and 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

Count two

That you UYIEKPEN GIWA-OSAGIE on or before the 12th day of February,2019 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, procured ERHUNSE GIWA OSAGIE to make cash payment of the sum of $2,000,000.00 (Two Million United State Dollars) without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

N1.23bn alleged fraud: Court imposes N1bn bail on Maurice Iwu

A former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Maurice Iwu, who was charged with an alleged fraud of N1.23bn, has been admitted to bail in the sum of N1bn with two sureties in like sum.

Justice Chuka Obiozor said, in his ruling on Friday, that one the sureties must own a landed property in Lagos while the other must be a professor or a civil servant not below Grade Level 16.

The judge said both sureties must furnish the court with the statement of their bank accounts, showing a minimum balance of N1bn.

The sureties are also to submit their recent passport photographs.

In addition, Iwu was ordered to deposit his passport with the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court.

The judge ordered that he should be remanded in the prison custody pending the fulfillment of the bail conditions.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had on Thursday arraigned the ex-INEC chairman on four counts bordering on fraud before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The anti-graft agency alleged that Iwu committed the offence in the build-up to the 2015 general elections in which President Muhammadu Buhari defeated then-incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.

According to the EFCC, Iwu, between December 2014 and March 27, 2015, “aided the concealment of N1.23bn in the account of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria Limited with number 1018603119, domiciled in the United Bank for Africa.”

The EFCC said Iwu “ought to have reasonably known that the N1.23bn formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: fraud.”

The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the ex-INEC chairman acted contrary to sections 18(a) and 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering ((Prohibition) Act 2011 and was liable to be punished under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

But when the charges were read to him, Iwu pleaded not guilty.

While moving Iwu’s bail application on Friday, his lawyer, Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), urged the judge to admit his client to bail in liberal terms but the EFCC vehemently opposed the bail application.

The EFCC counsel, Oyedepo, told the judge that Iwu might likely interfere with the witnesses assembled to testify in the case as they were INEC officials with whom he had worked closely.

Court remands Iwu, ex-INEC chair, over ‘N1.2bn fraud’

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Thursday, remanded Prof Maurice Iwu, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in custody over allegations of fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Iwu before the court on four count charges bothering on N1.23 billion fraud.

The anti-graft agency is accusing the former INEC chairman of playing a part in the concealing of the N1.23 billion public funds between December 2014 and March 2015.

The money is believed to be part of the N23.29 billion public funds allegedly diverted and shared by Diezani Allison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources.

The EFCC said this was “to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential elections.”

The commission said the “loot” was domiciled in the United Bank of Africa (UBA) account of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria Limited.

The ex-INEC chairman, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Chuka Obiozor, the presiding judge, remanded him in the custody of the anti-graft agency. He then adjourned till Friday to rule on a bail application filed by Iwu.

Other INEC officials said to have been fingered in the alleged fraud are also being prosecuted.

EFCC to arraign ex-INEC chair Iwu over N1.2bn scam

A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Maurice Iwu is to face trial for alleged laundering of N1.2billion.

Iwu, who has been interrogated by the EFCC, was said to have been involved in the N23.29 billion poll bribery scandal which characterized the 2015 poll.

Although charges have been filed against Iwu, it was unclear last night when the ex-INEC chairman will be formally arraigned.

A source said: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to arraign a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Maurice Iwu.

“Iwu will be arraigned at a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos on a four-count charge bordering on money laundering.

“Iwu is alleged to have between December 2014 and March 2015, aided the concealment of the sum of N1, 203,000,000 (One Billion, Two Hundred and Three Million Naira)

“The said sum was in the bank account of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria Limited domiciled in the United Bank for Africa, UBA Plc.

A reliable source, who gave insights into the investigation of Iwu, said: “The cash in question was about the poll bribery scandal in 2015.

“Iwu has been implicated in the N23.29billion poll bribery scam perpetrated by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

“He was accused of allegedly using an NGO, West African Network of Electoral Observers, in the facilitation of bribery to top officials of the electoral commission. We have been on this case since 2016.

“We gave Iwu enough time to appear before us for interrogation. After series of quizzing and thorough perusal of relevant documents, we are set for his trial.”

The Acting Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Tony Orilade, said: “We will soon arraign the ex-INEC chairman,” but he was not forthcoming on the details.

The EFCC has been investigating the bribery scandal which was allegedly facilitated by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

About four oil firms, some directors of some oil companies, two banks and some politicians more than 283 staff of INEC are under probe.

Also, about 205 staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are on trial in connection with the biggest electoral fraud in the country.

Many of the indicted INEC staff and politicians have owned up and refunded huge sums of money to the EFCC.

More than N3.4billion in cash has been recovered apart from choice assets seized by the anti-graft agency.

Some choice assets belonging to the affected staff have been placed under Interim Asset Forfeiture until the determination of cases against them.

Apart from the EFCC’s findings, INEC’s panel, headed by a National Commissioner, Baba Arfo Shettima made shocking discoveries as follows:

• An NGO, West African Network of Electoral Observers, was used to share the bribe to INEC

• A former chairman of INEC (names withheld) coordinated the large-scale bribery scandal.

• Many former Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and retired Administrative Secretaries were used to penetrate INEC in all the 36 states for the bribery to alter poll results

• Some serving RECs and directors benefitted from the bribery scandal as confirmed by EFCC’s investigations

• A REC collected between N107million and N140million bribe

• While some RECs and INEC staff collected as much as over N100m, others were given as low as N150, 000 to compromise the electoral system.

EFCC forced me to indict former Plateau governor – Witness

Yusuf Pam, a former cashier of the Plateau government, says his statements indicting Jonah Jang, former governor of the state, were made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under duress.

Pam made this claim on Tuesday while testifying under cross-examination at a Jos high court.

When asked if he truly admitted to being the that paid monies into Jang’s Zenith Bank account, he said: “that information was not true”.

“I never hid money for Governor Jang throughout his eight-year tenure. On January 16, 2017, l was threatened to either cooperate by writing whatever they asked me to write else I wouldn’t be given food or allowed to take my drugs because l am hypertensive and diabetic.

“At that point, l had to play along because they also threatened to dump me in their detention cell, where I spent the night the very first day l reported at the EFCC office, Abuja.

“When they later allowed me to go back to Jos, l was asked to report every two weeks for a year and four months.

“They later changed it to once a month and on two occasions, l escaped two ghastly motor accidents.

“My Lord, I was not answerable to the Governor directly. I never hid money for him when he was Governor because I was answerable to a Permanent Secretary, Cabinet and Special Services who is the Accounting Officer in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government.

“I tried to explain this to the EFCC official, Mr Sunday Musa, who interrogated and obtained my statements.

“During the interrogation, Musa gave me a slap and forced me to make statements the way he wanted it.

“My Lord, all the statements I made to the EFCC in writing was dictated to me.”

NAN reports that Pam and Jang are standing trial in a 12-count brought against them by the EFCC bordering on alleged N6.3 billion money laundering.

After listening to Pam’s testimonies, Daniel Longji, the presiding judge, adjourned the case to August 7 for the continuation of hearing.