Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President Paul Usoro has said he would not resign his position despite the pending fraud case against him. The EFCC, last week, filed an alleged N1.4 billion fraud charge against Usoro before the Federal High Court in Lagos.
It was announced that Usoro will be arraigned today. But, addressing reporters in Abuja at the weekend, the NBA president said he would remain in office despite an attempt to force him to quit.
Usoro, who said he was presenting the communique of the just held NBA National Executive Committee (NBA) meeting, assured that he would attend court today when the case against him is fixed for the hearing.
Saying he has not been served with the charge, the NBA President added that he was not comfortable about the leakage of the charge against him to the media.
Usoro, who addressed the news conference alone, did not dispute the existence of the charge against him. He said he is innocent and that the case is intended to force him out of office.
The NBA president, in a reaction to the question whether he will resign in view of the charge against him, said: “I will not resign. No, I am not in doubt that a charge has been filed against me. I only said, in my earlier statement, that I have not been served with the charge. I do not doubt the existence of the charge.
“This matter was presented before the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the NBA and we had a very successful meeting. And nobody raised the issue as regards whether I should leave.
“I have already made it quite clear if you have read my statement on what my position is as far as this matter is concerned. The National Executive Committee adopted that my address, as far as that matter is concerned, and they believed that that matter is rested.
“You see, I have seen it happened a number of times, and I believe all of you have also seen it happened, that some of these incidents are hyped up simply to drive people out of office. You are aware of that. And this has happened, not once, not twice.
“We have seen it happened in the case of the Senate President (Bukola Saraki). Ultimately, what happened? The Senate President was absolved of any criminality. What would have happened assuming the Senate President had resigned?
“We have also seen it happened and somebody was hounded that way, and he resigned. And at the end, he was found not to have done it. It is also very possible that in this particular instance, that was what the people wanted and that was why that was that hype. All of you are aware of it that there were plenty of leakages in regard to this matter, just before the NEC meeting.
“I am personally convinced that the reason why there was so much of the leakage was to instigate NEC possibly to get me out of office. Well, that did not succeed. So, we went to NEC and I presented the things that we want to do as the national officers are concerned.
EFCC investigating Okorocha
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has confirmed that it is investigating the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha. The anti-graft commission has also explained that it froze N5 billion funds belonging to the state government because Okorocha was spending too much money in a suspicious manner during the general election.
The Acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Ibrahim Magu confirmed the investigation of the governor by the EFCC in an interview with Channels Television. Asked if an investigation is ongoing regarding the governor, he responded, “definitely”.
“Of course, we are doing a couple of checks and investigations here and there. We are investigating almost everybody,” he said.
He said the commission has to get to a certain level before it can disclose any information about an ongoing investigation.
Magu explained that this was necessary to prevent any action that can jeopardize or interfere with the process of the inquiry.
He said though he was aware of reports of the investigation on the social media, the details the anti-graft agency has is different from what is in the public space.
The anti-graft czar granted the interview in the United Kingdom where he traveled to meet with investigators assisting the federal government in solving cases of money laundering and financial crimes.
Meanwhile, the anti-graft commission has also explained that it froze N5 billion funds belonging to the state government because Okorocha was spending too much money in a suspicious manner during the general election.
The EFCC further stated that N8 billion Paris Club loan refunded to the state for the payment of salaries was mismanaged by Okorocha.
The EFCC’s Zonal Head for South-east, Usman Imam, said this during a chat with journalists.
Imam said their timely intervention saved the state over N5 billion that would have been deployed in vote-buying by the Okorocha’s administration during the last elections.
Naira Marley remanded in EFCC custody
A Lagos Federal High Court yesterday remanded popular musician Azeez Fashola aka Naira Marley in prison following his arraignment for alleged credit card fraud. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) preferred an 11-count charge against him.
He pleaded not guilty before Justice Nicolas Oweibo, who adjourned hearing in his bail application till May 30.
Justice Oweibo said he would be in custody until his bail application is determined.
The offence, according to Section 33 (2) of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015, carries seven years imprisonment.
Some of the credit cards, EFCC claimed, bore the names of Nicole Louise Malyon and Timea Fedorne Tatar.
The charge reads in part: “That you Azeez Adeshina Fashola aka Naira Marley, and Raze (still at large), on or about the 11th day of December 2018, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired to use Access card 42658840359191132 issued to persons other than you in a bid to obtain gain and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27(1)(b) of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 33(2) of the same Act.
“That you, Azeez Adeshina Fashola, aka Naira Marley, and Raze (still at large), on or about the 10th day of May 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud possessed counterfeit card 4921819410257431 issued to Timea Fedorne Tatar and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 33(9) of Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015.”
Fraud: 9 FIRS senior official detained by EFCC
Nine senior officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) are currently in detention over alleged multi-billion naira fraud.
The officials, who are being detained by the anti-graft agency (EFCC) in Abuja, include the Director of Finance and Accounts (DFA) of the FIRS, Mohammed Auta.
Apart from Auta, another director of the agency, Peter Hena, is also alleged to be involved in the scandal.
Hena, the Coordinating Director, Support Services Group of the FIRS, is currently out of Nigeria and will be arrested as soon as he returns to the country, EFCC sources told this newspaper.
A top official of the FIRS, however, said Hena is on official medical leave outside the country and did not flee.
Hena is believed to be one of the closest officials to the FIRS chairman, Babatunde Fowler.
It is still unclear to EFCC officials, whether or not Fowler is involved in the scandal.
Details of the scandal are still sketchy as at the time of this report. However, Auta and Hena are being investigated for allegedly diverting about N6 billion tax funds that should have gone to the Nigerian government, anti-corruption officials said.
Our reporter learnt that most of the other affected officials are from the finance and account department of the FIRS.
All the officials have been in the EFCC detention since April 1.
It was learnt the EFCC is closing in on several other senior officials of the revenue collection service in a widening investigation to uncover other fraudulent activities involving several billions of government tax revenues.
When contacted on the detention, the EFCC spokesperson, Orilade Tony, promised to get back with more information. He was yet to do so at the time of this report.
The FIRS is saddled with collecting taxes and revenues of the federal government.
The agency under Mr Fowler has seen its revenue generation improve, setting new records. The agency said it collected about N5.32 trillion as revenue in 2018, the highest in Nigeria’s history.
Magu gives update on stolen funds
N1.3 trillion public funds were stolen by 32 entities (human and corporate) between 2011 and 2015, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu has said.
Magu made the revelation yesterday in his keynote remarks at the opening of the 2019 First Batch Conversion Training Programme to Procurement Cadre for Federal Parastatal and Agencies.
The event was organised by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) in Lagos.
The EFCC chair, whose paper was delivered by the Commission’s Secretary, Ola Olukoyede, decried the impact of the huge financial loss on the country.
He said: “One third of this money, using World Bank rates and cost, could have comfortably been used to construct well over 500km of roads; build close to 200 schools; educate about 4000 children from primary to tertiary levels at N25 million per child; build 20,000 units of two-bedroom houses across the country and do even more.
“The cost of this grand theft, therefore, is that these roads, schools and houses will never be built and these children will never have access to quality education because a few rapacious individuals had cornered for themselves what would have helped secure the lives of the future generations, thereby depriving them of quality education and healthcare, among others.”
He identified the poor state of procurement process as one of the major reasons corruption continued to thrive in government agencies and parastatals.