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Babachir Lawal breaks silence on his probe by EFCC

Babachir Lawal, sacked secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), says he’s happy with his ongoing probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In October 2017, Lawal was relieved of his position amid allegations of corruption.

A senate ad-hoc committee had in December 2016 indicted him of fraud in a contract awarded for the clearing of invasive plant species in Yobe state, through the Presidential Initiative on Northeast (PINE).

According to the ad-hoc committee, Lawal allegedly spent N570m on the project.

PINE, which was headed by Lawal, was at the time unable to account for N2.5 billion allocated to alleviate the plight of IDPs.

Amid speculations that the former SGF might have escaped justice, Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the EFCC, recently said Lawal is still under investigation.

Speaking during a Channels TV interview, Lawal said he had “always wanted” the EFCC to get involved in the allegations against him.

Asked about the investigation, he said: “I like it (the probe). In fact, I had always wanted the EFCC to be involved because the EFCC has the capacity both in terms of equipment and personnel to get to the truth.”

Lawal said although he is being investigated for alleged corruption, it would not affect his relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari.

The former SGF is believed to be a close ally of Buhari.

“If the president were to be my brother, does it mean we cease to be brothers because I am being investigated by the EFCC?” he asked. “A relationship breaks because of a false accusation against an innocent man.”

How we uncovered Diezani’s 19 US, UK, Nigeria properties – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has explained to the Federal High Court in Abuja how it uncovered about 19 houses allegedly bought by the immediate-past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Maduke, in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

It also explained that an Executive Director in First Bank Nigeria Limited, Mr. Dauda Lawal, helped Diezani to transfer to the UK for the purchase of some real estate properties in London.

EFCC also said  Benedict Peters whom it described as a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s contractor during Diezani’s reign as the petroleum minister, contributed $60m to the $115m allegedly provided by the ex-minister to bribe electoral officers for the 2015 general elections.

The Nigerian properties were said to be in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

The anti-graft agency also said Peters was a “suspect under investigation for Petroleum subsidy fraud” from whom $400m had been recovered.

EFCC says Peters is the “alter ego” or owner of two companies registered abroad – Collinwood Limited – Rosewood Investment Limited and a Nigerian company, Aiteo Energy Resources.

The anti-graft agency’s explanation gave these details in the papers which it filed in objection to some applications urging Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja to lift the interim forfeiture order hanging on some of the 19 properties in the UK and US.

Upon an ex parte application titled, ‘In the matter of 19 real properties purchased by Mrs. Diezani Alison-Maduke’, Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja had on June 29, 2016 granted an order of interim forfeiture in respect of the properties.

But the trio of Peters and two of the companies said to be his,  Collinwood Limited and Rosewood Investment Limited, filed a motion dated January 10, 2017, challenging the interim forfeiture order in respect of some of the properties in the UK and the US.

The applicants denied that some of the properties which the court ordered their interim forfeiture were theirs and not Diezani’s as alleged by the EFCC.

The properties interested in by the applicants included the ones at 5 Park View; 83 – 86 Prince Albert Road; St. John Wood, all in London NW8 7RU, UK; as well as 270-17 Street, Unit 4204, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Buhari plotting to hang a crime on me, says Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has accused the government of President Muhammadu Buhari of plotting to hang a crime on him.

The elder statesman who fell out with Buhari earlier in the year also said his life is under threat.

He said he had it on good authority that his name has been placed on the watch list of different security organisations.

“Impeccable security sources have alleged Chief Obasanjo’s name is on their watch list and that the security of his life cannot be guaranteed,” read a statement which Kehinde Akinyemi, spokesman of Obasanjo, issued on his behalf.

“According to these informants, many of who are in the top echelon of the nation’s security management and close to the corridors of power, the operatives are daily perfecting how to curtail the personal liberties of the former president and hang a crime on him,” the statement read.

“Ordinarily, we would not have dignified these reports with a response but for the fact that many of these informants are not known for flippant and frivolous talks. Secondly, this Government has demonstrably exhibited apathy, and in some cases, encouraged by its conduct, daily loss of lives and property in many States of the country, the office cannot be indifferent.”

Citing the cases of Senate President Bukola Saraki who has several allegations levelled against him, Obasanjo accused Buhari’s government of witch-hunt.

Obasanjo also alleged that the current administration is considering asking the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe him.

However, he vowed not to be cowed into silence.

“We are currently in a nation where the Number Three citizen is currently being harangued and the Number Four citizen is facing similar threat within the same Government they serve. There is a groundswell of our nationals that live in fear that they could be hounded, harassed, maimed or even killed as the battle for 2019 takes this worrisome dimension,” he said.

“For Chief Obasanjo, this is a joke carried too far and being someone who do not act on unofficial information, he had cautioned all informants and adopted a wait-and-see attitude to the bestial propositions allegedly being contemplated to cow, cage and embarrass him.

“The content of the alleged beastly designs, it was learnt are two-fold for now. One, to seize his International Passport and clamp him into detention indefinitely, in order to prevent him from further expressing angst on the pervasive mediocrity in the quality of governance, economic management and in the protection of lives and property by the government.

“But, since that could expose the government to a swath of international condemnation, embarrassment and outrage, it is said that another plot being hatched is to cause the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to re-open investigation into the activities of Chief Obasanjo’s administration using false witnesses and documents. This will be a re-enactment of the Abacha era in which Chief Obasanjo was one of the principal victims.

‘The same EFCC that had conducted a clinical investigation on the activities of Obasanjo in and out of Government, it was said, would now be made to stand down the existing report that gave Chief Obasanjo a clean bill of health on the probes are now to get him indicted, fair or foul for possible prosecution and persecution like it is being done to real and perceived opponents, enemies and critics of this government.”

Obasanjo supported Buhari in the buildup to the 2015 election but signs soon emerged that their relationship had gone sour.

The situation reached its height when Obasanjo wrote an open letter to Buhari, asking not to run in 2019.

He also accused him of shielding his corrupt allies and deepening the ethnic divide in the country.

Buhari did not reply Obasanjo directly but when he hosted some of his supporters in Aso Rock last month, he raised the issue of the alleged $16 billion spent on power when Obasanjo was in power.

The president said Obasanjo had some questions to answer, to which the elder statesman replied that he was ready for probe.

EFCC arraigns PDP deputy chair, five others for alleged N500m fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday arraigned the Deputy National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Alhaji Babayo Garba Gamawa, and five others over an alleged N500m fraud.

Gamawa was at some points Speaker, Bauchi State House of Assembly, Deputy Governor and  Senator representing Bauchi North.

Others arraigned along with him are Barrister Ibrahim Dandija, an SSG under ex-Governor Isa Yuguda for six years, Aliyu Jalam, Dahiru Madaki, Alhaji Sanusi Isa and Aminu Hamayo, who was at a time Commissioner for Finance and SSG.

The case which first came up at the Federal High Court, Bauchi, was presided over by the Chief Judge, Justice Mohammed Shittu Abubabakar.

Counsel for the EFCC, Barrister Abubakar Aliyu, who spoke to newsmen shortly after the court session said that the defendants were accused of laundering N500 million in 2015.

Abubakar said that the  EFCC was yet to establish any proof as to whether the money was from Dasuki’s arms deal or part of Diezani’s campaign funds.

He said the PDP chieftain and the four others were given administrative bail pending the next sitting

Justice Shittu adjourned the case until September 25, 2018.

Magu raises alarm, says some Nigerian banks weak, may collapse

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has raised an alarm over the health of some Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) operating in the country.

Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman, EFCC, who stated this said that some banks in Nigeria were on the verge of collapsing because of huge non-performing loans (NPLs).

However, Magu, who spoke in Lagos during an interactive session with Association of Chief Compliance Officers of Banks in Nigeria (ACCOBIN), said the anti-graft agency was ready to “assist the banks in recovering their debts.”

The EFCC chief urged compliance officers of banks in Nigeria to be more diligent in their responsibilities, as a way of tackling money laundering and other fraudulent practices in the sector.

He said compliance officers in various banks in Nigeria must also take ownership of the fight against corruption, which he described as one of the problems bedevilling the banking industry.

“We need to find a common ground to work together. You have a responsibility to fight corruption. The Commission is ready to partner with you to ensure a healthy economy.

“We are ready to assist the banks in recovering their debts, but compliance officers must ensure due diligence, especially when giving out loans to customers.

“I know you sometimes need to protect some of your customers. But it is sometimes better that you do without some of these people; otherwise, you will be seen as conspiring with them to steal public funds,” he said.

Magu further charged banks’ compliance officers to always provide the commission with necessary information to assist it in carrying out its responsibilities, adding that “We must work together to save this country. Most of the banks are sitting on water. In fact, some of these banks are almost collapsing.

“I know there are questions you can’t ask, particularly if it involves some individuals, but if you give us information on such people, we will move in. If there are fundamental issues that can affect your banks, you can give us the information, especially as another general election approaches.

“I don’t want to be charging banks alongside suspected criminals because doing so can wreak havoc on the economy. It will even discourage investors from coming to the country.”

The anti-graft boss, who stressed that there is the need for concerted efforts to save the banking industry, added that “every bank is capable of going distressed, no matter its size. That is why we are battling to see that you stay afloat.”

Magu also expressed concerns about the concept of private banking in Nigeria, which he said could be abused by politically exposed persons.

He, therefore, urged the group to look very critically into the issue, saying, “There must be due diligence, even in this practice of private banking. There must be accountability; there must be transparent in our transactions. You don’t have to wait until anything goes awry before you begin to find a solution to it.”

In his response, Opeyemi Adojutelegan, chairman of ACCOBIN, lauded the EFCC for its intervention to save the banking sector and assured Magu of the association’s readiness to continue to work with the commission, saying, “ours is to contribute our quota to the development of the country”

Former Kaduna governor remanded in prison

A Federal High Court in Kaduna State on Wednesday remanded a former governor of the state in prison.

Ex-governor Ramalan Yero and three others were remanded in prison after they were docked by the anti-graft agency, EFCC.

The chief judge of the court, Mohammed Shuaibu, said the accused persons should be remanded till June 6.

The three other accused persons are a former minister, Nuhu Way; a former secretary to the state government, Hamza Danma’awuyi; and a former Peoples Democratic Party chairman in the state, Abubakar Haruna.

All the accused pleaded not guilty to the four-count charge of corruption levelled against them by the EFCC.

The four were accused laundering over N700 million allegedly received in the build up to the 2015 elections.

They were brought to court by EFCC around 8:30 a.m.

Their trials follows that of other former governors by the EFCC.

The agency on Wednesday secured the conviction of a former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame. Mr Nyame was jailed 14 years by an Abuja court.

Another ex-governor, Jonah Jang of Plateau State, was recently released after spending about one week in prison custody on the directive of the court.

Junaid Mohammed: EFCC at war with DSS, there’s terrible confusion in NIA

Junaid Mohammed, a second republic lawmaker, has alleged that there is infighting between the nation’s security and anti-graft agencies.

He said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is “at war” with the Department of State Services (DSS), and that there is “terrible confusion” at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

Mohammed said this on Monday while speaking on Channels Television. President Muhammadu Buhari’s three-year-old administration was assessed during the programme.

He featured on the programme alongside Oby Ezekwesili, former minister of finance, and Fetus Keyamo, spokesman of Buhari’s re-election campaign.

Mohammed said the “infighting” has marred the current administration’s fight against corruption.

“Today, the DG of DSS is not on speaking terms with the person he is supposed to coordinate some of these things with,” he said.

“The EFCC is at war with the DSS. The NIA is in terrible confusion that the DG does not even go to his office, he has a new office in the presidency.”

But Keyamo described his claims as lies and unfounded.

“It is not true. These are gentlemen I know, they talk,” he said, adding that: “These are things we push into the public space that we are not sure of. What facts do you have to back it up?”

Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the EFCC, remains unconfirmed as chairman, partly because the senate said a DSS report indicted him of some practices which they said makes him unfit for the office.

The EFCC and the DSS have also had misunderstandings, particularly when operatives of the latter agency prevented the arrest of Ayo Oke, sacked director-general of the NIA, and Ita Ekpeyong, the immediate past director-general of the DSS.

But Keyamo said the perceived bickering between the security agencies is only a “difference in perspective”.

He said the disagreement between the agencies is a “credit” to the government.

“The president allows the agencies to do their work. The SSS is not looking at the body language of the president that he has appointed this person, so I will cover whatever he has done because the president wants him to be in office,” he said.

 

Diezani loot: EFCC arraigns Rivers SSG fo allegedly laundering N750m

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said on Wednesday that it had arraigned the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Mr. Kenneth Kobani and a politician from the state identified as Mr. Samuel Okposo.

It was gathered that Kobani and Okposo were arraigned on Monday before Justice B. Bilikisu of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

A statement made available to newsmen by the anti-graft agency on Wednesday indicated that they were brought to court on six counts bordering on money laundering to the tune of N750 million.

The agency specifically said that Kobani and Okposo were put in the dock for collecting the said amount from the Garrison branch of Fidelity Bank Plc in Port Harcourt.

The money, according to the EFCC, was part of the infamous $115 million Diezani Alison-Madueke loot involving several politicians and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

It was alleged that the money was received on the eve of the general election in 2015 when Kobani was the Minister of State for Trade and Investment.

EFCC to arraign former PDP governorship aspirant

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will arraign a former PDP governorship candidate in Edo, Ize-Iyamu; an ex-deputy governor of the state, Lucky Imasuen, and three others on Thursday

The accused, according to the commission’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, will appear in a Federal High Court in Benin City for purportedly receiving N700 million prior to the 2015 general elections.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Uwujaren identified the three other accused persons as the state PDP Chairman, Dan Orbih; Tony Azigbemi and Efe Erimuoghae Anthony.

He said, “The quintet were said to have conspired among themselves to committ an offence contrary to the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

Though the arraignment was earlier scheduled for May 16, the case was adjourned till May 24, for arraignment due to the absence of Ize-Iyamu and Orbih in court.

At the last court sitting, counsel to Orbih, Chief Ferdinard Orbih (SAN), told the court that his client was outside the shores of Nigeria attending to his health needs.

“The same argument was canvassed by Ikhide Ehighelua, counsel to Ize-Iyamu, who told the court that his client was outside the country attending to his health.”

According to Mr Uwujaren, EFCC is seeking to prosecute the five top PDP members in Edo for receiving the N700 million without any contract award.

He said the offence contravened to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3)of the same Act.

JUST IN: Commotion as EFCC detains ex-governor Shekarau

There was commotion at the Kano state office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as supporters of a former Kano state governor Ibrahim Shekarau attempted to block his rescheduled visit to the office.

A witness said that hundreds of supporters of the former Education Minister thronged the Hajj Camp Road offices of the anti-graft agency to protest what they called “persecution” by the agency.

Mr Shekarau arrived the area around 4p.m, as scheduled, but was however blocked from gaining entrance into the commission’s premises.

The overwhelming crowd almost overpowered security personnel on duty, who had to call for reinforcement from sister security organisations.

“The police had to use teargas and fire some shots in the air to disperse the crowd,” a witness, Abba Yunusa, said.

As at the time of publishing this report, Mr Shekarau was still being detained at the commission’s offices.

The former governor and the co-defendants are expected to be arraigned on Thursday before the federal high court in Kano on charges of money laundering.

On Tuesday, Mr Shekarau’s media assistant, Sule Sule, alleged that the former governor was being persecuted by the agency for his criticism of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The EFCC in a statement Wednesday said it had concluded arrangement to arraign Mr Shekarau alongside three others before a Federal High Court in Kano on Thursday.

Mr Shekarau will be charged alongside, Aminu Wali and Mansur Ahmed for allegedly conniving to collect N950 million part of the $115 million allegedly distributed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deizani Madueke, ahead of the 2015 general election, EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said in the statement.

“It is further alleged that the defendants distributed the money without going through a financial institution in clear violation of provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.

“The defendants are currently being detained at the Commission‘s Kano Zonal Office awaiting their arraignment tomorrow,” he said.