Arms Scandal: Panel Probes Buhari’s Minister, Ex-service Chiefs

The 13-man Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement (CADEP) set up to probe arms procurement contracts between 2007 and 2015, is now set to quiz the Minister of Interior, Lt-Gen. Abdurahman Dambazau (rtd), according to reports.

The panel will, today, begin sitting to scrutinise procurement papers in the Nigerian Navy between 2007 and 2015, as well as probe arms purchase in the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) between 2007 and 2010.

There have been strident calls from individuals and groups for the probe of Dambazau, who served as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) between August 2008 and September 2010.

In fact, it was alleged that the Interior Minister had been working tooth and nail to suppress the arms panel report, before its release last week Thursday.

Also to appear before the Air Vice Marshal Jon Ode (rtd)-led panel, are three former Chiefs of Defence Staff (CDS) – Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin (rtd), Admiral Ola S. Ibrahim and Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike (rtd). All the former Chiefs of Naval Staff from 2007 to 2015 – Vice Admirals G.T.A. Adekeye, I.I. Ibrahim, D.J. Ezeoba and U.O. Jibrin – are also to appear before the panel. Dambazau, Petinrin, Ibrahim, Dike, Ezeoba and others will be asked to explain contracts awarded during their respective tenures as COAS and Chief of Naval Staff (CNS).

It was gathered from highly placed military sources that General Owoye Azazi (rtd) and Lt-Gen. Luka Yusuf (rtd), who had served as CDS and COAS, respectively, would have appeared before the panel, were they not late.

“I can confirm to you that the Audit Panel, which had been on a 10-day break, will reconvene this week, to commence work with immediate effect.”

Among those to appear in this final batch are Dambazau, Air Force chiefs between 2007 and 2011, and Naval chiefs from 2007 to 2015.

“They will all be confronted with documents regarding contracts and procurement transactions during their tenures,” the source said.

This is as it was further learnt that an ex-COAS, Lt-Gen. Azubike Ihejirika (rtd) and his predecessor, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah (rtd), may be interrogated by a special team of operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) this week.

The arms panel had in a report on the procurement of the Nigerian Army released last week Thursday, indicted 54 individuals and companies.

One of the sources, who spoke in confidence, said palpable tension may have gripped senior military officers, who held some strategic positions during the tenures of the former Service Chiefs scheduled to face the panel this week, all things being equal.

Investigation revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari had met with members of the panel, where he extended the period of their assignment, gave them a new terms of reference, and charged them to remain firm and focused in the audit task.

Also to face scrutiny, are former officials in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Ministry of Defence (MOD), as well as the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON).

Giving some details, the source disclosed that one of the service chiefs was fingered in the construction of a military hospital in a Northern state. The hospital was said to have served as a conduit through which billions of naira was allegedly syphoned.

The current COAS, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, was quizzed by the panel, though nothing was said to have been established against him.

Speaking against the backdrop of Ihejirika and Minimah’s indictment, another source hinted that: ”Both former Army Chiefs, including 52 others, have had their international passports impounded.

“I also heard that both men are under surveillance, as the EFCC sets out on a further investigation.” Meanwhile, indications have emerged that the 13-man panel may be confronted with challenges of gathering documents and information, owing to the arrest and detention of Air Commodore Muhammed Umar (rtd).

“The arrest of retired Air Commodore Umar, may pose some challenge to information gathering. He was largely responsible for gathering of information, considering his vast networks and connections during the probe of procurements in the Army and Air Force,” the source hinted.

Umar, who is a member of the Ode Committee, was arrested by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) recently.

The newspaper was also told of a businessman, who had offered to return a huge sum of money he received from a former Naval chief, without commensurate execution of contracts.

It was learnt from informed sources that the man, who is said to be a close friend of the former Naval chief, had approached the panel, with a view to returning the said money, which he said he neither worked nor asked for.

One of the sources said that the panel, conscious of its terms of reference, which did not include receiving of funds, directed him to the EFCC.

“You know interesting discoveries were made by the panel. Do you know that in the course of our sittings, a civilian, who is a friend of a former Chief of Naval Staff, walked into the committee that he wanted to refund money the ex- Naval chief paid into his company’s account?

“The man said he did not do any work, but that the money was paid into his account on the instruction of his friend, the Naval chief.

“The committee said there was a procedure to follow, which required him to go and make the refund at the EFCC,” the source said.

A source close to the panel said that the panel is billed to invite the businessman to testify against the former naval chief.

Already, the 13-man panel has released reports on the Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Army, wherein it indicted top senior serving and retired military officers, politicians, and firms.

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Alleged Fraud: EFCC To Re-arraign Ex Bank Chiefs Akingbola, Atuche, Nwosu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says the trial of three former Managing Directors of defunct banks has received a major boost.

The three bank Managing Directors include Mr. Erastus Akingbola of the defunct Intercontinental Bank, who is accused of stealing N47.1bn; the MD of the defunct Bank PHB, Mr. Francis Atuche, who is accused of stealing N25.7bn; and the MD of the defunct Finbank Plc, Mr. Okey Nwosu, alleged to have stolen N18bn.

The commission said this on its official Facebook page while reacting to its victory against ex-Finbak boss, Nwosu, who failed to stop his trial at the Supreme Court last week.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, under the leadership of Mallam Lamido Sanusi (now Emir of Kano), had, in 2009, petitioned the EFCC, asking the anti-graft agency to investigate Nwosu, Akingbola, Atuche and a former MD of the defunct Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, who has since been convicted.

Based on its findings, the EFCC charged them before the Federal High Court, Lagos, on money laundering charges.

It subsequently initiated another charge of stealing against them before a Lagos High Court, Ikeja, having obtained a fiat from the Lagos State Attorney General.

Nwosu, however, challenged the charge at the Lagos High Court on the grounds that it was an abuse of court process and would expose him to double jeopardy.

He also questioned the jurisdiction of the state High Court. The Lagos High Court dismissed his objection. Nwosu then took the matter to the Court of Appeal, Lagos division and won in November 21, 2014.

Subsequently, both Akingbola and Atuche argued that since their cases were identical with that of Nwosu, the charges against them should be struck out on the same grounds.

The Court of Appeal therefore struck out the charges against them on the same grounds.

In a last attempt, the EFCC took Nwosu’s matter to the Supreme Court and was handed a victory last week.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment, upheld the appeal by the EFCC and set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, which earlier quashed the charge on the grounds that it amounted to an abuse of court process.

The court, in a unanimous judgment of a seven-man panel, faulted the reasoning of the Court of Appeal in relation to its finding that the decision by the EFCC to charge Nwosu and directors in his bank for stealing before the Lagos High Court, while it simultaneously maintained a charge of money laundering against them on related facts, would expose them to double jeopardy.

The court directed Nwosu and directors in his bank to submit themselves for trail and remitted the case back to the Lagos State Chief Judge for expeditious trial.

In the lead judgment on the appeal SC/74/2014, which was used to decide two other appeals (marked: SC/73/2014 and SC/75/2014) on similar issues, Justice Musa Muhammad held that it was unreasonable to suggest that the prosecution of the respondents by the appellant at the trial court was aimed at either irritating or annoying them or was a bid by the prosecution to stall the effective and efficient administration of justice.

Last week, Justice Muhammad, in the lead judgment of the Supreme Court, held, “Besides, the offence of stealing as created by the Lagos State House of Assembly, notwithstanding the same or similar facts as constituted under other offences created by the National Assembly, retains its identity as being not only dissimilar, but distinctively different.

“It is wrong, in the light of these characteristic, for the lower court to hold that the trial court’s jurisdiction has abated on the grounds that the proceedings before it against the defendants constitute an abuse of the process of that court.”

The court further held that the rule of double jeopardy, as contained in Section 36(9) of the1999 Constitution, could not avail for the respondents, having been unable to prove that they were being prosecuted for the same or substantially the same offence at the Lagos High Court and the Federal High Court.

“Accordingly, this meritorious appeal is allowed, and the perverse judgment of the lower court is set aside. The decision of the trial court in consequence, prevails,” it said.

Justices Walter Samuel Onnoghen, Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta, Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, Chima Centus Nweze and Amiru Sanusi agreed with the lead judgment.

The EFCC hailed the judgment of the Supreme Court, describing it as a victory in its fight against corruption.

It said, “The EFCC has won a major victory in the war against economic and financial crimes as the Supreme Court categorically ruled that Okey Nwosu, former Managing Director of FinBank Plc, who is being prosecuted by the EFCC over N18bn shares scam, should face his trial.

“Nwosu’s previous victories at the lower court slowed down the prosecution of other bank chiefs, who aligned with his victory, to ask that their cases be struck out. But with this ruling of the apex court, the trial of the likes of Francis Atuche, formerly of BankPHB, and Erastus Akingbola, formerly of Intercontinental Bank would receive a major boost.”

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EFCC Seizes 29 Properties From Three Ex-Air Force Chiefs, To Arraign Them For N21bn Fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has seized 29 properties from the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu; a former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting in NAF, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun (retd.); and a former Director of Finance and Budget, Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo (retd.).

This is even as the three former airforce chiefs have been slammed with a charge of diverting N21bn. The three suspects will be arraigned by the anti-graft agency this week at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

 

According to Punch, no fewer than 11 properties were seized from Amosu; 12 were seized from Adigun and six from Gbadebo.

It was learnt on Sunday that the properties included three plazas, six mansions, a quarry, a hospital, a block of flats, animal farms, a school, two hotels, some uncompleted buildings and some parcels of land.

The properties seized from Adigun were said to be worth N9.6bn.

Some of the properties include a shopping plaza known as Capadar Plaza on Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse 2, which is worth N980m; a residential mansion on Lake Chad Street, Maitama, Abuja, worth N450m; an executive mansion in Imo River Close, Off Dandube Crescent, Maitama, worth N710m and a four-unit terrace on Agadez Street, Off Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 2, worth N720m.

Other properties, said to belong to Adigun, include a 35-room uncompleted hotel on Salt Lake Street, Maitama, Abuja; a parcel of land located on Bourdillon Street, Ikoyi, Lagos; a block of 12 service flats, located on Agodogba Street, Park View Estate, Ikoyi, said to be worth N1.8bn and a quarry in Bwari area of Abuja worth about $694,000.

The source added that all the properties had been temporarily seized.

He added, “Adigun spent most of his own share of the money on properties and so we did not recover much cash from him. Amosu, however, returned over N2.3bn and raised two bank drafts.”

He added that some of the properties seized from Amosu included a house on Adeyemo Alakija Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, worth N250m; a duplex at House 11, Peace Court Estate, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, worth N110m; a N40m property located at NAF Harmony Estate, Asokoro Base and a five-bedroomed house at Valley NAF Estate, Port Harcourt, worth N33m.

Others include a hospital on Adeniyi Jones Avenue, Ikeja, known as St. Solomon Hospital with equipment worth $2.15m and a N95m house on Umaru Dikko Street, Jabi, Abuja.

The properties seized from Gbadebo include a fish farm worth N10m; a N20m poultry, located at Musa Close, Oyibo Ayobu, Lagos and a school known as Bloomsville International School, Divine Estate, Isheri-Olofin , off Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Upon their arraignment this week, others charged alongside the accused persons are Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, McCallan Oil and Gas Limited, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Limited, Trapezites BDC, Funds and Pricey Limited, Degree Oil and Gas Limited, Timsegg Investment Limited and Solomon Healthcare Limited.

One of the charges read in part, “That you (accused persons) on or about the 5th day of March 2014 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence to wit conversion of the sum of N21,467,674,707.43, property of the Nigerian Air Force which was derived from stealing which is contrary to Section18 (A) of the Money Laundering Act of 2012 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

According to other charges, the accused persons had allegedly used some of the aforementioned companies, which they own, to award phantom contracts to themselves.

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$15bn Arms Deal Scam: Ex-military Chiefs Indicted As Panel Chairman Meets Buhari

Indications emerged yesterday that Some former military chiefs are likely to be invited over some suspicious arms contracts.

They are among those indicted by the Presidential Committee on the procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces, a source said.

The committee is ready with its report on arms deals in the Army.

The panel, headed by Air Vice Marshal JON Ode, is expected to submit its report this week to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The audit report on procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces and Defence sector covers 2007 to 2015.

Some former Chiefs of Army Staff may be asked to respond to some issues in the report.

Ahead of the submission of the report, the chairman  of the panel on Friday met with the President on some  recommendations and the  detention of one of its members, Air Commodore  Mohammed Umar(retd.)

Umar is said to be central to the breakthrough recorded by the panel on some high-profile fraud.

The Air Commodore was arrested on June 19 by the Department of State Service (DSS). About $1,030,000 was reportedly found at his residence in Maitama District, Abuja.

The DSS has been working on clues that Umar  might have taken “advantage of his membership of the Arms Panel” to extort suspects.

But Umar  insisted that the money was payment to his company, Easy Jet Integrated Service Limited, for cargo flights to  Houston and Hong Kong.

He said the payment on 12 May 2016  was for: Cargo flight (Ilyusin II-76 cargo plane from Nairobi-Houston) at $520,000 and drop-off from Nairobi-Hong Kong at $510,000.

The DSS is, however, still probing Air Commodore Umar.

A source told our correspondent that the Ode Panel was ready with what he described as an “explosive” report.

The source, who pleaded not to be named because of the “sensitivity” of the matter, said: “Certainly, heads will roll as it was the case when a similar outcome was presented to the Presidency on the Nigerian Air Force.”

The source said the panel’s chairman met with the President in company of the National Security Adviser(NSA), Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd).

“I think the panel had issues with the DSS over the arrest of Air Commodore Umar who is said to be central to the bursting of high-profile arms scandals. He was worried that Umar’s detention  had to do with plans by some forces planning to destroy the panel.

“He made known his intention and that of other panel members to abandon the work over what they termed the unfair treatment of Air Commodore Umar,” the source said, adding:

“You know these people have presented their report on Air Force on the basis of which Badeh and other Air Force chiefs are now on trial. They were preparing to submit this week that of the Army, which has indicted many people.

“The detention of Umar was seen by the panel as part of a sinister ploy to get at the committee and rubbish all that we have done. And the Air Commodore, being a key member of the committee, knows too much and has a lot of documents that aided our work. That is why some are jittery.”

“Umar was instrumental to the early success of the committee as he used his personal money to hire foreign experts on forensics and arms procurement to help the committee in unearthing alleged frauds committed over the years.”

Apart from the chairman of the panel, some senior government officials and other individuals close to the President are said to have been angered by what they called “shabby and disgraceful treatment meted out to Umar for no just cause and allegations that cannot be proven”.

A delegation of five governors led by Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, was said to have met President Buhari on Thursday to complain about the travails of the retired military officer and the implications of what they called “the power game” on the government.

Some of the items recovered by the DSS from the residence of the Air Commodore on June 19, 2016  are 13 vehicles; various denominations of both foreign and local currencies;  one bag  containing documents; one Black Star Express  bag containing documents; a laptop; a document containing details of disbursements made  by  the Armed Forces and security agencies, Volume 1-3; document on contract for Niger Armec EE Niger; document on Nigerian Air Force Holding Company(NAFHC) and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria; two files  of Nigerian Air Force Properties Limited documents; and  one file of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

Also listed are two Pump Action guns.

The DSS has filed a First Information Report (FIR) with a Chief Magistrate’s Court in Abuja on Air Commodore Umar  to ensure that his detention is  in line with the law.

Umar is undergoing investigation for alleged illegal possession of firearms and money laundering.

The FIR reads in part: “Illegal possession of firearms and money laundering contrary to Section 27(1) (b) (i) of the Firearms Act Cap. F28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Section 15(1) (d) (e) of the Money Laundering Act Cap. M18 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“Enquiries by the State Security Service revealed that Air Commodore Umar Mohammed (rtd) has in his possession two Pump Action guns with Serial Numbers 09/1573 and 397 without a valid licence and large sums of money in local and foreign currencies suggestive of the fact that he received the said monies in contravention of the Money Laundering Act.”

A document sighted by our correspondent revealed that the FCT police on March 10, 2000 granted Mohammed the gun licence in line with The Firearms Act of 1958.

The gun is described as SBSG, 12 Calibre or Bore, made by Magnum with No. 397. The ammunition is cartridge with 100 rounds.

The licence reads: “Licence is hereby granted Air Commodore Mohammed Umar of House No. 4 Lundi Close, off Missisipi Road, Maitama, Abuja to possess and bear the firearm described in the Schedule hereunder. The licence is issued subject to the following terms: Hunting and Gaming. The licence is valid until 31st December, 2010.”

The licence was for a period of 10 years; it was not immediately clear why Umar did not renew it.

He ran into trouble with the DSS for not renewing the said licence.

A source gave an insight into the investigation of Air Commodore  Umar by the DSS.

He said: “Air Commodore Umar was a known face in Aso Rock from the time of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua up to the twilight of Jonathan administration.

“A very close ally of Isa Yuguda during the inglorious days of the Cabal operating  in the Presidency in the absence of an incapacitated late President Umaru Yar’Adua, under the Buhari administration, he has struck a blossoming partnership with a top security chief.

“There is also pressure on investigators to question him as to how he got the money to float Easy Jet as an Air Commodore?

“An equally important question is why keeping government documentary evidence in personal abode?”

The source spoke of “a cabal fraternising with close aides of the President while also going around to drop the President’s name for favour-seekers.

“The activities of the cabal are gradually becoming an embarrassment to the anti-corruption campaign of the Buhari-led administration.”

The cabal  is said to have turned the home of a member of the arms probe panel into a “trial-before-trial” meeting place.

“It will be recalled that former Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu retuned N2.3b to the Federal Government. The EFCC also seized houses belonging to Mr. Amosu worth over N500m, in addition to $140,000 USD in cash with an additional N381m seized from Mr. Amosu’s wife.

“The cabal’s tentacles are growing by the day and might be bigger than what was experienced under any administration in Nigeria.

“The latest onslaught was unleashed on the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari who has been considered a threat to the cabal’s operations. He has been targeted and silenced with a view to successfully isolating the Presidency. Kyari has been side-lined.

But there were rumours last night over plans to save Umar.

A security source said: “Insiders also squealed that an independent team of investigators would be raised to establish the veracity of all allegations against Mohammed Umar.

“This proposed move is to forestall a scandal of unimaginable proportions which could threaten the success of Buhari’s anti-corruption war.”

A source close to Umar debunked all the allegations and described them as baseless.

He said: “These allegations are like wild goose chase. One, how can a person with unblemished military career like Air Cmdr Umar and who is close to the President be accused of terrorism financing? Which terrorists? And because that cannot fly they changed the music.

“The two pump action guns they picked from his house were registered when he procured them in the year 2000. The licence is there. And how can you say someone who has business interests all over the world cannot be found in possession of foreign currencies?

“Air Commodore  Umar travels widely. He is a friend of several heads of governments across the world and his two companies, Easy Jet and African Energy, have business interests the world over. And the cars that they found there are vehicles that he bought over the years; some 10 some, some eight, some five years.”

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Alleged N7.8bn Fraud: EFCC Rejects Ex-Air Chief’s Out Of Court Settlement Offer

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said that it will prefer plea bargain instead of an out-of-court settlement with a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar.

The commission is also expecting that the plea bargain will come with at least a light sentence by the court to serve as deterrent.

But to make any headway, the EFCC wants Umar to refund all the funds allegedly traced to him, including the forfeiture of choice assets to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The anti-graft agency was however awaiting Umar’s offers as at the time of filing this report.

Pending the offers from the ex-Chief of Staff, the EFCC has opted to go ahead with the trial until it gets to a convenient bend for the two parties to sign an agreement.

The  ex-Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar, who  is on trial  for alleged N7.8billion fraud, sought  for an out-of-court settlement on Tuesday.

The EFCC was, however, weighing options as at the time of filing this report.

A top EFCC source, who spoke in confidence, said it was technically wrong for Umar to seek an out-of-court settlement.

The source said: “We are aware of plans by the ex-Chief of Air Staff for an out-of-court settlement, but as a commission, we will go for plea bargain if he is ready to return all the cash credited or traced to him.

“When you talk of an out-of-court settlement, it is as if there is a civil disagreement between the EFCC and the ex-Chief of Air Staff.

“What we have at hand is a criminal matter. The accused person must first of all admit that he committed the offence. So far, by the court records, the ex-Chief of Staff said he is not guilty of all the allegations against him.

“Let him do the needful and thereafter, he can initiate a plea bargain option which we will consider on merit.

“A key component of the plea bargain which can be acceptable to the EFCC is the readiness of the ex-Chief of Air Staff to refund all the funds credited or traced to him in cash or in terms of assets.

“Even if the plea bargain will carry a lighter sentence to serve as a deterrent to others, we prefer it than  an out-of-court settlement.”

As at press time, it was learnt that the EFCC was still awaiting the details  of Umar’s offers.

The top source added: “We are yet to receive the details of proposals. As we await his full offers, we will continue with the trial until we  are able to agree on the conditions for a plea bargain.”

The former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar is facing trial at a Federal High Court in Abuja on seven charges which are in violation of Section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, as amended.

He was alleged to have diverted funds  from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force(NAF) to purchase six choice properties in Abuja, Kano and Kaduna states.

He allegedly committed the offence between September 2010 and December 2012 to purchase six choice properties in Abuja, Kano and Kaduna states.

The EFCC accused  Umar of transferring  N66 million into the Stanbic IBTC account No. 9202077424 belonging to Capital Law office from NAF operations account domiciled at UBA Plc, for the renovation/improvement of a house at 1853, Deng Xiao Ping Street, Off Mahathir Mohammed Street, Asokoro Extension, Abuja.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that the ex-Chief of Staff  used the dollar equivalent of N500 million withdrawn  from NAF account to purchase a four-bedroom duplex with boys’ quarters at Road 3B, Street 2, Mabushi Ministers Hill, Abuja.

He bought another  N250 million  property at 14, Audu Bako Way, G.R.A. Kano State with NAF cash.

On Tuesday, Umar’s counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN) informed the court that his client had started negotiations with the complainant, the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC), for the possibility of an out-of-court settlement of the case.

Liman disclosed that Umar had held meetings with officials of the EFCC during which discussions were held on the proposal.

He said Umar attended the meetings with his  lawyers. He said the meetings were between Umar’s lawyers and the head of Legal Department of the anti-graft agency, head of the task force of the commission, Mr. Ibrahim Musa, and the prosecuting lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir.

Liman said after the first meeting held on May 31 and the subsequent one on June 3, it was resolved that the defendant should send a formal letter detailing his proposal to the commission.

Liman added that following the resolution, the defence had already written to the Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

He said the letter was dated June 6, 2016.

The trial judge, Justice Binta  Nyako adjourned the matter till June 16 for the prosecution to call its witnesses.

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EFCC Recovers N1b From Ex-ministers, INEC Chiefs

Over N1billion cash illegally deployed in the 2015 election has been refunded.

The cash came from  some former ministers, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders and coordinators of some election observer groups, The Nation learnt yesterday.

More than N2billion has been frozen in many accounts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).

The cash is part of the N23.29billion allegedly pumped into the failed bid to get former President Goodluck Jonathan re-elected by bribing INEC officials. It allegedly came from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

There are also refund pledges running into billions of naira, a source said.

The latest of such refunds came yesterday from two former ministers, three INEC officials and a coordinator of election observers who paid back N62,750,000 to the EFCC.

Besides, no fewer than 36 INEC officials have been implicated in the campaign cash fraud.

According to a source, who pleaded not to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media, the EFCC has recovered more than N1billion cash from those who shared in the bribe.

The source said: “In all the six geopolitical zones, most of those quizzed have admitted benefiting in one way or the other from the cash.

“Our investigation revealed that there appears to be a pattern of allocating about N450million to each of the 36 states and FCT.

“Some of the beneficiaries have paid back; others made pledges and some are still meeting in groups to refund what was allocated to them.

“So far, we have recovered over N1billion in cash and more than N2billion frozen in some accounts nationwide.

“We have given them deadline and they seem to be willing to pay back.”

The Nation stumbled on a document in which some of the refunds are listed. They include N359millon by some INEC staff in Oyo and Ogun states; a former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Sen. Joel Ikenya Danlami (N2m);  ex-Speaker of Taraba State House of Assembly Mark Bako Useni (N1m);  ex-Minister of Power Wakil Muhammad (N6,680,000); ex-Minister of Science and Technology Abdu Bulama (N5m); Muhammed Kadai(N1m); the Coordinator of observers in Maiduguri, Jummai Lawan Ibrahim(N19m); and a former INEC official, Bunu Mulina (N6m).

Others are INEC officials, including Mohammad Umar ( N17m); Kabir Bello (N5m); and Musa Buba Amshi (N4m); Senator Kumo Saidu Umar and ex-PDP Chairman in Gombe State, Paloma Nuhu N4million( N2 million each) which they claimed to be their personal benefits from the fund.

The latest of such refund (N62, 750,000) came yesterday from Maiduguri zonal office.

The source said: “In continuation of the ongoing investigation of some INEC officials in Maiduguri and two former ministers, the Advance Fee Fraud/Extractive Industries Unit handling the investigation was able to recover N62,750,000.

“Investigation is ongoing in the matter as other people are expected to come for questioning. The serving INEC officials are detained in the EFCC office.”

There were indications yesterday that the number of serving INEC officials quizzed by the EFCC on the scandal has risen to 36.

They comprise 16 top directors at the headquarters, a Resident Electoral Commissioner(REC), Gesil Khan and five others from Cross River; 11 in Gombe State, were grilled at the Gombe State Zonal office of the EFCC; and three detained  in Borno.

Grilled are Khan for collecting  N185, 842,000 out of a N681million bribe deal; Fidelia Omoile( Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State)—N112,480,000 ; Uluochi Obi Brown( INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State)—N111,500,000; a former Deputy Director  of INEC in Cross River State, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC in Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo—N214,127,000.

A retired INEC official, Sani Isa,  was grilled for alleged N406,206,000 bribe allegedly collected on behalf of the deceased Resident Electoral Commissioner  (REC) in Kano State, Alhaji Mukaila Abdullahi.

Those grilled in Gombe are: Godwin Maiyaki Gambo Balanga, Bukar Alone Benisheik, Dukku, Jibril. B. Muhammed,Billiri, Dunguma Musa Dogona, Funakaye, Mohammed. A. Wanka, Kaltungo, Ishaku Yusuf, Kwami, Suleiman Isawa, Nafada, Babagana Malami, Shongom, and Nuhu Samuel, Y/Deba.

The EFCC source said: “So far, we have questioned more than 36 INEC staff but we are still counting. We are expecting more names from our zonal offices in  Port Harcourt, Enugu, Gombe, Kano and Lagos.

“At the end of our investigation, we will refer the list of those indicted to INEC management for appropriate disciplinary action.

“This is without prejudice to the fact that the law will take its course. Some of the INEC officials may face trial.”

Credit: The Nation

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Osinbajo Meets Niger Delta Governors, Military Chiefs, Says It Is Evolving Common Strategy To End Attacks

IN a meeting summoned on the instruction of President Muhammadu Buhari, the federal government and Niger Delta states have started developing a common and united strategy to deal with the recent resurgent militant attacks on the nation’s oil installations.

At a meeting held today at the Presidential Villa, and presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, governors from Niger Delta states, three ministers and military service chiefs met behind closed doors to discuss the situation, and forge a common strategy to halt what is considered by both federal and state governments as acts of economic sabotage by the militants.

At the end of the meeting, which lasted over two hours, it was made known that the federal government is proceeding on a collaborative strategy with the governments, communities in the Niger Delta region and other relevant stakeholders towards tackling the situation holistically.

Disclosing this at the end of the meeting, Delta State Ifeanyi Okowa who briefed State House Correspondents said the meeting identified the need for synergy between the federal and the state governments as a very important step going forward.

Elaborating on the collaboration, Governor Okowa said “one thing that we have identified is the synergy between the federal government and states is very important and this meeting has actually revealed a lot of issues and we believe that the collaboration between the Federal Government and States would help us to tackle the issues in the Niger Delta”

Governor Okowa disclosed that a lot of decisions were taken at the meeting after they were briefed by Service Chiefs.

He said “we have taken a lot of decisions which we think will help us to mitigate what is going on currently in the states particularly in Delta and Bayelsa”, reiterating the belief that “we are going to find a solution very soon”.

Still on the outcome of the meeting, he added that it was decided that military presence in the region should be de-escalated, though it was agreed that the forces should be kept to provide security and presence while government begins immediate engagement process with the communities in the affected areas.

Asked by press about the fate of the amnesty programme, Governor Okowa noted that the Presidential Adviser on the Amnesty Programme briefed the meeting and stated that the programme was actually still on-going. He added that“we have a Special Adviser in charge of Amnesty and he is doing a lot of work.”

Those at the meeting were Governors from the Niger Delta states which include Governors of Edo, Ondo, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Abia, and the Deputy Governor of Cross River. On the side of the federal government were the Minister of Defense, Rtd. Major General Mohammed Dan Ali, Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Dr. Ibe Kachikwu. Military service chiefs were also in attendance led by the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt.Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin and all the Service Chiefs who briefed the meeting on the security situation in the region.

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N115b Loot: Ex-Air Chiefs, Politicians Top Refund List

Barely 24 hours after the confirmation of the recovery of about N115billion, The Nation yesterday glimpsed a likely list of some of those behind the huge refund.

They include some politically exposed persons, ex-military chiefs and some of those involved in the $115million poll bribery scandal.

Besides, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is said to be tracking about $3.9billion believed to have been stolen.

A Presidency source however said the government was not yet aware of the said $3.9billion.

The recovered cash includes the following: $3.1b  from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) accounts (the money was paid to the oil giant by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited); $1m seized from a former Chief of Air Staff;  National Broadcasting Commission (N10,061,172,600); another Chief of Air Staff(N2.3b); an ex-presidential aide (N900m); a businessman (N750m); an ex-governor of Delta State ($15m); an ex-Chief of Staff and others (N420m); and an ex-Minister (N140m); an ex-Military Administrator  (N100m).

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials in Oyo and Ogun (N359millon); a former Minister (N2m); a former state Speaker N1m and N580 million (£2 million) in jewelry, allegedly from a former minister.

An EFCC source said: “We cannot release the names of those affected because some of them are already on trial before the court. We do not want to take any prejudicial action. We have been advised against doing so.

“As soon as it is legally convenient, we will release the full list.”

 

But there were indications  yesterday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was tracking about $3.9billion.

The said amount was allegedly not yet captured in the fact-sheet which was released to the public on Saturday by the Federal Government due to an outstanding reconciliation process.

The $3.9billion includes the $15million seized from former Delta State Governor James Ibori, who is serving term in the United Kingdom.

Other components are about $3.1billion intercepted in the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG), which was yet to be moved to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in line with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.

A reliable source in the anti-graft commission, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said the list of recoveries issued out on Saturday might not be the final.

The source said: “The EFCC has also intercepted over $3.9billion, including those in the NNPC and NLNG accounts and put in the TSA account.

“This has not been captured yet. So, what we have on Saturday was certainly not the final list of recoveries.”

“Following a judgment of the Court of Appeal, a $15million recovered from ex-Governor James Ibori has been paid into the treasury too.

“We will soon make the breakdown available to Nigerians accordingly. This process is a continuous one .”

A top Presidency source said: “The affected $3.9billion is unknown to this government. The list of recoveries released to Nigerians on Saturday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed, went through vetting and other checks before the announcement.

“Do you know the value of $3.2billion? If there is such money in the system, do you think we will go to AFDB for a loan of $1billion?

“I only hope you will get the figures right from whoever is giving the information. Some people have sent an online link to the government but the source only quoted a member of the House of Representatives.”

TheNation

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Revealed: INEC Chiefs Got N23.3b From Ex-minister Diezani’s For 2015 Polls

There seems to be more trouble for embattled former Petroleum Resources Minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is probing her involvement in a $115m (N23, 299,705,000billion) 2015 election bribery scandal.

The anti-graft agency has detained two bankers in connection with the scandal.

The agency has launched a manhunt for Ugonna Madueke, the former minister’s son.

Besides, four companies implicated in the bribe-for-results scandal during the 2015 general elections are under probe.

The companies are: Northern Belt Gas Company Limited; Auctus Integrated; Midwestern Oil and Gas; and Leno Laitan Adesanya.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Cross River State, Gesil Khan  and four others are undergoing interrogation over the N681million the allegedly got from the bribe.

She allegedly got N185, 842,000 from the deal.

The other suspects  and the alleged bribe against their names are Fidelia Omoile (Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State)—N112,480,000; Uluochi Obi Brown( INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State)—N111,500,000; a former Deputy Director  of INEC in Cross River State, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC in Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo—N214,127,000.

During its preliminary investigations, the EFCC discovered that the N23.29billion was shared to INEC officials in all the 36 states, some individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations(NGOs), which deployed election monitors.

Arrested by the EFCC are Fidelity Bank Managing Director Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo and the bank’s Head of Operations, Mr. Martin Izuogbe.

The list of all beneficiaries, who received funds through Fidelity Bank branches nationwide, was being compiled last night.

A source in EFCC, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent,  said: “We are looking at a case of conspiracy between Fidelity Bank and the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to bribe INEC officials to rig the 2015 presidential election nationwide.

“There was a time Diezani invited the MD of Fidelity Bank Nnamdi Okonkwo and told him that the owners of the four companies will come and drop some money and the MD should keep the money separately and await instructions on what to do.

“The companies gave these  amounts to the MD of Fidelity Bank as follows: Northern Belt Gas Company Limited ($60m); Auctus Integrated ($17,884,000); Midwestern Oil and Gas ($9.5m); and Leno Laitan Adesanya ($1.85m).

“On her part, Diezani sent $25.77million(approximately $26m) to the MD with all the funds totaling $115million (N23, 299,705,000billion).

“A day or two before the presidential election, she gave  a distribution list to the  Fidelity Bank Plc MD and instructed that the $115million be changed into Naira and shared to INEC officials  in the 36 states, some individuals and NGOs.

“The MD said there was no way the bank could meet up with the conversion of the $115million into Naira and distribute at the same time. Diezani pleaded with the MD to use the Naira in the bank’s vault. She said if the bank changed the dollars later, it could make Naira replacement. That was how the money was distributed to INEC officials in 36 states, some individuals and NGOs.

“The MD instructed the bank’s Head of Operations, Martin Izuogbe, to communicate with all Fidelity Bank branches to effect the distribution of the cash to alter the presidential election poll results.”

The source added: “We have arrested and detained the MD of Fidelity Bank since Monday. But we picked up the Head of Operations on Wednesday.

“They are undergoing intense grilling and we may not release them until we have completed investigations.

“About N681million out of the funds was disbursed to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Cross River State and four others.

“It is obvious that more Resident Electoral Commissioners and INEC officials will soon be invited for interrogation.”

On the manhunt for the son of the ex-Minister, the top source added: “Ugonna Madueke was at the meeting in her mother’s house when everything was perfected with the MD of the bank. He allegedly gave some instructions too.

“We are looking for him for interaction.”

The EFCC shocked the embattled Resident Electoral Commissioner for Cross River State, Gesil Khan, with the video evidence which was retrieved from  the CCTV tape showing how the transactions were carried out in a bank.

She allegedly got about N185,842,000 from the deal, which she denied.

The development has set the stage for the grilling of the REC and four others, The Nation learnt.

About a fortnight ago, the EFCC arrested some top INEC officials in connection with massive bribery during last year’s elections.

The other suspects  and the bribe against their names are Fidelia Omoile( Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State)—N112,480,000 ;

Uluochi Obi Brown( INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State)—N111,500,000; a former Deputy Director  of INEC in Cross River State, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC, Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo—N214,127,000.

Besides, some sensitive election materials meant for the 2015 presidential and senatorial polls were retrieved from the homes of some of the suspects.

EFCC operatives also recovered also many documents on financial and landed properties from the homes of the embattled  INEC officials .

Some of the documents include receipts of payments made into their accounts.

The suspects allegedly got the bribe in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.

There are indications that many INEC officials and ad hoc workers benefitted from the bribe.

A top EFCC source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The actual amount involved  in the deal was N681million. When we began investigation, the REC denied involvement in any transaction relating to the scandal.

“Each time we questioned her, she refused to own up. We had no choice but to confront her with a CCTV clip of how she went to a bank to identify one Peter Popnen (who is on the run) to collect N185, 842,000.

“At this stage, she had no choice but to admit. She is still in detention pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation. If she hadn’t wasted time in owning up, the investigation would have reached a convenient bend to admit her to bail.

“The truth is that with modern technology, there is no hiding place for anybody again.”

The EFCC yesterday released a former Minister of Finance Mrs. Nenadi Usman on health grounds.

Her movement is, however, restricted to the country ahead of her appearance for more grilling next week on the over N4billion in her company’s accounts for the 2015 campaign.

But she has signed an undertaking to refund about N140million credited to her personally out of the slush funds, which were transferred to an account titled “Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited”.

Also, the EFCC yesterday invited some aides of former Minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode, and  coordinators who worked with him at the Presidential Campaign Organisation.

Fani-Kayode allegedly got about N840million from the cash which was withdrawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) but wired through Mrs Usman’s company.

Details of how the cash was shared are: Fani-Kayode (N840million); Goodluck Support Group (N320million); Achike Udenwa and Viola Onwuliri (N350million); Nenadi Usman (N140million); and Okey Ezenwa (N100million).

Another EFCC source added: “Nenadi was released on health grounds but she has to come back next week for another round of interrogation. Her passport has been seized and her movement restricted to the country.

“Already, she has signed an undertaking to pay back N140million, being the personal sum credited to her out of the cash under investigation.

“She has made two houses available in Abuja in respect of the remaining sums being probed in her company’s account.

“We have, however, not concluded investigation. For instance, some aides and coordinators who worked with one of those implicated, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, were summoned to Lagos for interaction.

“Some of these suspects are undergoing grilling, which involves funds remitted into their accounts and disbursement.

“We will recover every kobo from the beneficiaries of these slush funds.”

TheNation

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David Mark Alleges Plot By Benue Deputy Governor, APC Chiefs To Assassinate Him

Former senate president, David Mark, has alleged a plot by the deputy governor of Benue State, Benson Abounu, and some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress to assassinate him ahead of Saturday’s rerun in the southern senatorial district.

In a statement by his media aide, Paul Mumeh, on Monday, Mr. Mark said the APC candidate for the election, Daniel Onjeh, through his campaign Director, Okpokwu Ogenyi, in connivance with the deputy governor, had allegedly hired the services of cultists to unleash terror in the district and in the process target him (Mark) for elimination.

The statement said the cultists allegedly hired for the assassination include the notorious supreme Vikings squad from Jos, Plateau State and the dreaded Black Axe in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

It also said Mr. Mark, who is running on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, had already alerted the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, of the plot by the APC stalwarts in the state to assassinate him.

In a petition to the IGP signed by his counsel, Ken Ikonne, the statement said, the former senate president alleged that Mr. Ogenyi was the arrowhead of the plot.

“It is obvious that Ogenyi knows more about the assassination plot than he has revealed,” the petition said.

“Our client has therefore instructed us to petition you( IGP) to as a matter of urgency apprehend and interrogate Ogenyi to throw more light on the details of this grave assassination plot before he and his associates carry out the dastardly plot.

“Only yesterday, police said to be attached to the State Deputy Governor Benson Abounu fired several gun shots into the family house of Senator Mark in Otukpo.

“No reason was given for the unprovoked attack and no arrest has been made.”

The petition also said a couple of weeks ago, the chairman of the APC in the state, Abbah Yaro, was quoted as saying “if Senator Mark wants, let him win the election in seven out of the nine local government areas but no returning officer born of a woman will dare declare him.”

Also, the Benue State chairman of the PDP, Emmanuel Agbo, had petitioned the police command in the state over the unhealthy political activities of APC ahead of the election.

He also asked the authorities to prevail on them to allow peace reign.

The Police Force Public Relations Officer, Bisi Kolawole, an assistant commissioner, could not be reached as she did not respond to repeated calls to her mobile telephone.

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Buhari’s Promise: Are Nigeria’s Army Chiefs Not Meant To Be In Maiduguri? By Peregrino Brimah

Correct me if I misunderstood, President Muhammadu Buhari clearly and categorically promised us that he was moving the Army central command to the northeast as the necessary action and impetus to quickly and reliably bring the Boko Haram menace to an end.

On best advice and after wise counsel, Muhammadu Buhari realized as indicated by his promise and the touting of it during his independence speech and later on across the world, that having the heads of service resident in Maiduguri and Adamawa was strategically and technically invaluable in restoring safety and security, the constitutional rights of the citizens.

However since making that promise, apart from routine photo-ops doing push-ups with the troops and breaking bread every now and then, Chief of Army Staff General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has been anywhere but relocated-to-Maiduguri.

To make matters worse, it was now, for the first time in years that Maiduguri was attacked successfully, twice by Boko Haram. Once at Christmas last year and the recent Dalori massacre of as many as 300 innocent men, women and children. After the December Boko haram deadly attack on Maiduguri, the people protested that the city still remained vulnerable to attacks.

After the Dalori attack, when Nigerians showed their frustration at the government’s appearing insensitivity and indifference towards the victims of the rampaged town, a government delegation went to visit and Secretary of the Government, David Babachir accused the people of “lack of vigilance,” being responsible for their tragedy.

However, is the protracted success of Boko Haram against Borno and Maiduguri not because Buhari broke his promise of stationing Buratai and co there to put a final lid on the menace? We the people recognized the military wisdom in stationing the chiefs there. While they refuse to stay there, we have rather noticed them getting involved in a lot of politics, local and international sectarian and other controversies, including massively deadly actions and events currently under global investigation, in the stead of the police.

The Kaduna massacre which ‘coincidentally’ happened to take place just two weeks after Boko Haram attempted to disband the processions of the same group in Kaduna, with a deadly bombing of the same victims, on procession in the same Kaduna, has put the army chief without doubt in a mangled web of controversy and global sectarian hooey. The national natural consequences of breaking promises cannot be better elucidated.

Can President Buhari please tell Buratai to go to Maiduguri and end the insurgency?

Dr. Peregrino Brimah @EveryNigerian

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