The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned one Bashir Ishaq Bashir alongside his companies, Leda Greenpower Consortium, Leda Greenpower Nigeria Limited and Leda Consortium Limited before Justice S.E. Aladetoyinbo of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, Maitama, on a three-count charge of obtaining by false pretence and cheating to the tune of $1 million.
Bashir Ishaq was alleged to have collected the said sum as part payment of a $3 million agreement from Althani Investments Company Limited for the purpose of forming a consortium to bid for shares at the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company. The bidding failed and several attempts made by the company for a refund of the money proved abortive.
He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read to him.
Prosecution counsel, Rimamsomte Ezekiel, thereafter asked for a trial date.
Responding, counsel for the defendant, A.B. Anachebe, SAN, moved the motion for his bail application.
Ezekiel opposed the application, arguing that “the defendant if granted bail will interfere with prosecution witnesses”. He further argued that the application was not proper in the sense that the defence only mentioned the name of the first defendant without reference to the second, third and fourth defendants.
Justice Aladetoyinbo, while adjourning to April 10, 2017 for hearing granted him bail in the sum of N2 million and one surety in like some. The surety must be resident in Abuja and must have a landed property.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Friday displayed photos of the recovered vault containing $9.8m, £74, 000 found in the Kaduna home of former Group Managing Director of NNPC, Andrew Yakubu.
Sources recalls that operatives of the EFCC, on Thursday raided his home where it discovered the huge sum.
The surprise raid of the facility was sequel to an intelligence report which the commission received about suspected proceeds of crime believed to be hidden in the slums of Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna.
The huge cash, according to the EFCC, was hidden in a fire proof safe.
Upon interrogation, the anti-graft agency quoted Yakubu as saying the $9.8m and £74, 000 found in his house were gifts.
See photos below…
Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, on Saturday said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had again frozen his personal accounts with Zenith Bank.
The governor said the bank refused to honour his cheque based on a directive from the EFCC when he went there on Friday.
This came three days after a Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti, dismissed a motion for stay of execution of the judgment unfreezing the accounts for lacking in merit.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo while ruling on the motion filed by the EFCC against his judgment unfreezing the personal accounts and delivered on December 13 said that “once a judgment is being executed, you cannot stay the execution again.”
Fayose said, “This is the impunity we are condemning. The bank and the EFCC got all the judgments of the court, but the agency still harassed the bank to act against the law. If I sent somebody with a cheque, they could give excuse but I was there myself; acts of impunity such as this cannot continue. We will challenge them.”
He added that he had received revelations that he would be “number one” in the country.
“Have you noticed that every attempt to impeach me has failed? How I will get there don’t ask me.”
On his recent election as the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party’s Governors’ Forum, Fayose said, “ By the grace of God, we are going to reposition our party. The PDP is only a sleeping giant and when it wakes up, those mocking us now will quake. Charlatans who are one leg in, one leg out and causing confusion in the party would have to decide where to belong.”
In a related development, the governor has called on the Federal Government to review corps members’ monthly allowance from N19,500 to N50,000.
According to him, the current allowance can no longer sustain them as Nigeria continues to grapple with recession.
Fayose also decried the deplorable state of the Ekiti National Youth Service Corps’ orientation camp in Ise/Emure, pledging an immediate release of N20m for its renovation.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has seized a property belonging to former governor of Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda.
Justice J. T. Tshoho of a Federal High Court in Abuja had few weeks ago ordered for the interim forfeiture of Yuguda’s property.
The property located at No 184 Attahiru Bafarawa Close, beside Fariah suites, old GRA, Bauchi, Bauchi State is now currently in the custody of the anti-graft agency, pending the conclusion of investigation against him.
The current governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar, had accused Yuguda of withdrawing N1bn from one of the state’s accounts in a one day.
A panel set up by Bauchi State Government to carry out a forensic audit of all major contracts awarded from June 2007 to May 2015 in the Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board, Ministries of Local Government Affairs, Bauchi Specialists Hospital and other MDAs subsequently asked former Governor, Isa Yuguda to account for over N212bn.
The Bauchi State Lands Registry is expected to furnish the EFCC with copies of all documents, including building plan, approval in respect of the property.
A Federal High Court in Ekiti, on Tuesday (Jan. 31), rejected a fresh bid by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to freeze the Zenith Bank accounts of the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo dismissed the motion for stay of execution filed by the commission against his judgment delivered on December 13 for lacking in merit.
The EFCC had frozen Fayose’s accounts after it allegedly traced part of the N4.7bn arms funds from the office of the National Security Adviser to the accounts.
But the judge on December 13 while delivering judgment in the suit filed by Fayose through his lawyer, Mr. Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said the action was against due process because the anti-graft agency did not follow the laid down regulations in freezing the accounts.
Justice Taiwo said the action breached the governor’s fundamental rights to fair hearing, as the commission did not make him a party to the proceedings for the interim freezing of the account.
He ordered the Zenith Bank and the EFCC to immediately unfreeze Fayose’s accounts.
Two days later, the governor went to the bank to withdraw N5m.
Jolted by the action, the EFCC returned to the court through a motion asking for the stay of execution of the judgment.
But ruling on the application on Tuesday, Justice Taiwo said, “once a judgment is being executed, you cannot stay the execution again.”
Referring to Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution which confers immunity on the governor, the judge pointed out that the applicant concealed the identity of the defendant while seeking the order to freeze the accounts.
The court said it could not sit on an appeal over its judgment because it had become functus officio.
Besides, the judge said there was no proof of facts that an appeal had been entered, noting that the proceeds of crime were not a subject matter in the substantive suit.
“A court of law does not embark on conjecture or guesswork as same can hardly produce a just and equitable decision. It is the duty of the applicant to provide materials upon which the court will grant the application.
“The matter was not instituted as a criminal suit, a court cannot go on a voyage of discovery to fish for facts to grant equitable remedy when the respondent averred that he had defendants and was ready to return the money if found liable at trial after his tenure.
“The court cannot stay a judgment already executed and the whole exercise in freezing the governor’s accounts amounts to a breach of the provisions of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“For the reasons earlier stated and the constitutional provisions referred to, I cannot but conclude that I find no merit in the application. The order being sought is hereby refused and the application is dismissed.”
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently refer allegations of corruption against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for further investigation.
The organization also urged President Buhari to publish the outcome of the investigation conducted on the matter by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, SAN.
In the letter signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization expressed concern that the failure to suspend Lawal from his position pending the investigation by Malami, and “the perceived lack of transparency in the outcome of that investigation may have created the impression that your government is treating Mr Lawal as a sacred cow.”
The letter copied to the Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo reads in part: “SERAP believes that Mr Lawal’s case presents your Administration with a real opportunity to reassure a lot of Nigerians who may be worried about the direction of travel of your anti-corruption agenda. Rather than assuming a defensive posture to the matter, we advise you to use this case to show to Nigerians that there will be no two standards of justice in your Administration’s fight against corruption.
“SERAP also believes the recommended approach would help to address the growing public suspicion and pessimism about your government’s ability to fight high-level official corruption to a standstill, and to avoid any collateral consequences. It is absolutely important that the public should have complete confidence and trust in your Administration’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption and the impunity of perpetrators.
“It is true that Mr Lawal enjoys a constitutionally and internationally guaranteed right to a fair trial, which includes the right to be presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. But we believe that the right to presumption of innocence is one that should have personally be raised by Mr Lawal and not your government, especially given his position as Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“SERAP notes that following a report by the Senate ad hoc committee which indicted Mr Lawal over alleged breach of Nigeria’s law in handling contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East, PINE, you reportedly instructed Mr Malami to carry out further investigation into the allegation. Among other allegations contained in the Senate’s report is that Mr. Lawal’s company, Global Vision Ltd benefited from inflated contracts of over N200 million to clear ‘invasive plant specie’ in Yobe State. According to the report, Mr. Lawal was still the director of Global Vision as of the time the contract was awarded in March 2016, and remains the signatory to the company’s account.
“To assist the government to achieve public confidence and trust, effectively spread the gospel of anticorruption, and be on the right side of history, SERAP made the following recommendations:
“Urgently refer the allegations against Mr Lawal to both the EFCC and ICPC for further investigations, and if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, for him to face prosecution;
“Pending the referral to the EFCC and ICPC, to suspend Mr Lawal from his position as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, pending the outcome of any investigation by the EFCC and ICPC;
“Promptly and widely publish the outcome of investigation carried out by Mr Malami and instruct that any files relating to that investigation be handed over to the EFCC and ICPC to assist in their follow-up investigation”.
Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, a former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, has pleaded with the Federal High Court in Lagos not to judge his case based on a series of statements he wrote while in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Dudafa, who is being prosecuted for an alleged fraud of N5.1bn, told Justice Mohammed Idris, before who he is being tried, on Monday that using those statements would occasion injustice against him, claiming that he did not voluntarily make them.
He told the judge that the anti-graft agency locked him up for about two months and subjected him to what he described as dehumanising treatments, thereby giving him no other option but to write and sign the statements against his will in order to secure his freedom.
Dudafa stated this while being led in evidence by his lawyer, Mr. Gboyega Oyewole, during a trial-within-trial to test the authenticity of the confessional statements and asset declaration form he filed while in the EFCC custody.
“After the 13th of May, 2016, they took me back to the cell and they continued taking me out each day so that I could go through agony.
“In the cell, I was isolated. I was not treated like any other detainee. All other detainees had access to their phones and food but me. My family members were stopped from bringing food to me and I accused the EFCC of planning to poison me.
“They wanted to break me down, to make me implicate some people. They asked me questions about former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; they said I was not their targets and made all sorts of overtures but I said over my dead body,” Dudafa said.
Earlier, Dudafa, who now limps, narrated to Justice Idris how he got his spinal cord dislocated in the EFCC cell, adding that the condition deteriorated because the EFCC allegedly shunned the recommendation of the military hospital to transfer him to a specialist for treatment.
“The ailment I have today, a spinal cord dislocation, I want to state that it was within that period of torture and agony that my spinal cord got dislocated for sitting all through from morning till night and no one would talk to you, it was excruciating.”
He claimed that the EFCC also rejected the offer by his family to take him out for treatment and foot the bill.
He further claimed that no fewer than 30 of his friends and family members were arrested because of him.
He claimed that by the time they had frozen all his bank accounts, that of his wife and his children and he could not pay the tuition of his child studying in the US, while he was still in serious daily pain due to his dislocated spinal cord, he succumbed to pressure.
He said after being detained for many weeks he was taken before the EFCC’s Deputy Director of Operations, Mr. Iliyasu Kwarbai, who threatened and then made overtures to him that he would be released if he could cooperate.
“Eventually I had no objection to what he said, because I needed my freedom.
“I was dying at that time; my son was stranded in the university; my wife and children were hungry, everything became a yardstick to my freedom.
“These statements were largely dictated based on my freedom. The entire so-called asset declaration is a sham.
“I want to conclude that it will be unfair to use these statements against me. These statements that they themselves orchestrated and teleguided is what they want to use against me in a court of law? It was bad.
“Statements that were made under such dehumanising, agonising conditions are what they want to use against me in the temple of justice,” Dudada said.
Under cross-examination by the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, Dudafa maintained that his statements were not voluntary despite the cautionary words written and read to him before he wrote the statements.
Justice Idris adjourned till Tuesday (today) for continuation of cross-examination.
Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has denied allegations leveled against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (going on to say they simply lied), daring the anti-graft agency to provide incontrovertible any evidence against her.
She also faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption fight, saying it was aimed at demonising and destroying a few Nigerians.
The former minister said this in a viral statement on a popular blog, www.stelladimokokorkus.com, while reacting to several media reports about her on Saturday.
A Federal High Court in Lagos had recently ordered that the $153m which was illegally lodged by the ex-minister through cronies in three banks be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government.
However, Diezani denied ownership of the money, insisting that she had no access to funds from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
She said, “I wish to state that I cannot forfeit what was never mine. I do not know the basis on which the EFCC has chosen to say that I am the owner of these funds as no evidence was provided against me before the order was obtained and they have not in fact served me with the order or any evidence since they obtained it. As of the time of my writing this rebuttal (January 19, 2017), the EFCC has still not furnished me or my lawyers with a copy of the order.”
In a terse text message on Saturday night, the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, however, challenged the former minister to come back to Nigeria if she believed she had done nothing wrong.
“She (Diezani) should return to the country and clear her name,” Uwujaren said without making further comments.
In her statement, Diezani also denied ownership of an $18m (N5.7bn) mansion located on Margaret Thatcher Close, Asokoro, Abuja, which was seized by the EFCC in June.
In a report by a television network, Al Jazeera, the anti-graft agency noted that the items in the house included jewellery, furniture and a bulletproof gymnasium worth about $2m.
The ex-minister slammed the acting EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, for taking the Al Jazeera reporter to the mansion and misleading the public.
Diezani said the house did not belong to her but to an oil magnate, Mr. Kola Aluko. Aluko is Diezani’s alleged front who is on the EFCC watch list.
The ex-minister said, “On June 13, 2016, the EFCC once again took their well-trodden path to the media; this time claiming that they had ‘discovered’ a mansion in Asokoro, Abuja, worth $18m (about N9bn) which they purported to belong to me.
“The EFCC went to the extent of bringing in Al Jazeera, an international TV station, to air a damaging documentary against me in this regard, showing a particular residential building in Asokoro, Abuja, which they told Al Jazeera belonged to me.
“The EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu, personally took the Al Jazeera reporter to the building, alleging that it belonged to me. It has since become apparent that the house belongs to a company owned by Mr. Kola Aluko.
“If this is not a witch-hunt or a personal vendetta against me, how is it that one of our country’s premier investigative agencies was unable to avail itself of facts that are freely available in the public domain?
“Since the EFCC claimed that the alleged $18m Asokoro property belongs to me, then it should kindly produce the ‘authentic’ Certificate of Occupancy and land registry information and any other relevant information as proof of my ownership of the property.”
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have cautioned that they may be forced to declare former Deputy Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ben Otti, wanted if he refuses to make himself available to the commission.
Otti, who also served as Director of Finance and Accounts at the NNPC, is central to the investigation into the $153m that was allegedly diverted from the account of the NNPC by the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in 2014.
A report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative had, in 2014, noted that the NNPC and its subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, failed to remit $4.7bn and N318.2bn to the Federation Account.
A Federal High Court in Lagos had, last week, ordered that the $153m, which was allegedly kept by some bank executives, be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government.
A source within the EFCC told our correspondent that the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, had told operatives that he received the money from Otti sometime in 2014.
The detective said, “When we arrested Okonkwo last year, we were informed that Otti was the one who brought the money to Okonkwo on the instructions of Diezani.
“We have been looking for Otti for several months but he seems to be out of the country. We believe he might be in London, where Diezani is. He is aware that we are looking for him.
“If he refuses to show up, then, we may have no choice but to declare him wanted.”
In a nine-paragraph affidavit filed in support of the anti-graft agency’s ex parte application for the forfeiture of the $153m, an EFCC investigator, Moses Awolusi, had claimed that the anti-graft agency discovered, through its investigations, how sometime in December, 2014, Diezani invited the Fidelity Bank boss to her office, where they hatched the plan of how a cash sum of $153,310,000 would be moved from the NNPC to Okonkwo to be saved for Diezani.
According to Awolusi, Diezani instructed the banker to ensure that the money was “neither credited into any known account nor captured in any transaction platforms” of Fidelity Bank.
Awolusi said Okonkwo accepted and implemented the deal, leading to the movement of $153,310,000 from the NNPC to the bank.
He said two former Group Executive Directors of Finance and Accounts of the NNPC, B. O. Otti and Stanley Lawson, helped Diezani to move the cash from the NNPC Headquarters, Abuja, to the headquarters of Fidelity Bank in Lagos.
Awolusi said in a desperate bid to conceal the source of the money, Okonkwo, upon receiving it, instructed the Country Head of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Martin Izuogbe, to take $113,310,000 cash out of the money to the Executive Director, Commercial and Institutional Bank, Sterling Bank Plc, Lanre Adesanya, to keep.
He said the remaining $40m was taken in cash to the Executive Director, Public Sector Accountant, First Bank, Dauda Lawal, to keep.
The investigator said out of the $113,310,000 handed over to Adesanya, a sum of $108,310,000 was invested in an off balance sheet investment, using Sterling Asset Management Trustees Limited.
He said the $108,310,000 was subsequently changed to N23,446,300,000 and saved in Sterling Bank.
The investigator said the EFCC had also recovered another $5m out of the money kept with the MD of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe.
Meanwhile, sources within the commission have told our correspondent that the EFCC board will meet in the next two weeks to decide the fate of the bank executives who were allegedly involved in the fraud.
Some of the bank heads, who were arrested by the EFCC last year include Okonkwo, Wigwe and the Sterling Bank boss, Mr. Yemi Adeola.
The Executive Director, Public Sector Account, First Bank, Dauda Lawal, was also investigated.
A source at the EFCC said, “In two weeks’ time, the court will decide if the forfeiture of the $153m will be permanent. Once we can secure victory, the next step is for the EFCC board to meet.
“It is the board that will determine the fate of all the bank chiefs that have been indicted.”