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EFCC

Obanikoro testifies against Fayose

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A former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, on Monday, told a federal high court that money was given to former Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti from the impress account of a former National Security Adviser, in June 2014.

Obanikoro gave evidence in the trial of Fayose before Justice Mojisola Olaterogun in Lagos.

Fayose is facing charges of N6.9 billion fraud.
He was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Oct. 22, 2018, alongside a company Spotless Investment Ltd., on 11 counts.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.

The substantive trial began on Nov. 19, 2018, with the EFCC calling four witnesses.

On Monday, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) appeared for the EFCC, while Messrs Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) represented the first and second accused respectively.

Jacobs then called on Obanikoro, the fifth prosecution witness, to give evidence.

The counsel led the former minister in evidence.

Jacobs asked him where he was in 2014 and he told the court that he was the Minister of State for Defence.

The counsel asked him to tell the court what he knew about the case.

The witness testified that in June 2014, when Ekiti State governorship election was near, he received a call from the accused, enquiring from him if there was any ‘message’ for him from the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki.

The witness said that he told Fayose that there was none but promised to check with the NSA and give Fayose feedback.

He told the court that eventually, the NSA confirmed to him that he had a “message” for the accused and that the funds would be made available.

The prosecutor then showed the witness exhibit E to confirm if it was the account to which the funds were transferred, and the witness replied: “Yes”.

The witness told the court that on June 13, 2014, and June 16, 2014, funds were posted into the account, adding that the funds were from the impress account of the NSA.

He said that he asked the accused how he wanted the money, and he told him that some amounts should be paid in Naira and others in dollars.

According to him, the money was eventually brought in a bullion van to the private wing of the Ikeja Airport, where one Agbele, sent by the accused, was on standby.

He testified that after confirmation from the accused, the money was taken to Ekiti.

The witness told the court that afterwards, he went to Ado-Ekiti to meet the accused in his hotel, known as Spotless, and gave him the dollar component which was five million dollars.

The prosecution counsel asked Obanikoro how many days it was to the Ekiti governorship election when he gave Fayose the money.

“About three days to the election,” the witness replied.

The prosecution also asked the former minister the source of the money.

“The NSA is the only person that can ascertain the source of the money; it is from the impress account of the NSA,” he said.

The counsel asked how the money was debited and the witness told the court that he gave instructions to the managing director of the Diamond bank, but was not available when the deductions were made.

When asked his connection with the accounts, Obanikoro said that it was used for security purposes, adding that he would not want to divulge further information on that.

After the evidence, the defence sought an adjournment to enable it to cross-examine the witness.

After several objections and counter objections, the judge granted an adjournment until Feb. 4, for cross-examination of Obanikoro.

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EFCC

Fraud: 9 FIRS senior official detained by EFCC

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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.

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EFCC

Magu gives update on stolen funds

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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.

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EFCC

EFCC araigns Ecobank

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal office, on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, arraigned Ecobank Plc before Justice Saliu Seidu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on a five-count charge bordering on conversion of funds to the tune of $50,000 and N9.2million.

Ecobank is facing trial alongside one of its employees, Anieka Udoh.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Ecobank Plc and one Anieka Udoh, whilst being an employee of Eco Bank Plc sometime in 2009, at Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Honourable court, negligently failed to exercise due diligence in relation to conduct of financial transactions with Major General Umaru Mohammed and fraudulently converted Major General Umaru Mohammed’s Ecobank MasterCard Account No. 0015052989 from debit card to credit card and consequently debited Major General Umaru Mohammed’s account in the sum of over USD 50,000 (Fifty Thousand United States Dollars) without the knowledge and authority of Major General Umaru Mohammed.”

At the scheduled arraignment on March 7, 2019, the first defendant, Ecobank, had no legal representative.

However, at today’s sitting, the first defendant, Ecobank Plc represented by E. Majemite, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against it.

Counsel to the second defendant, Udoh O.J. Owoh, informed the court about a pending application for bail on behalf of his client, who pleaded not guilty to the charge when he was arraigned.

In her response, counsel to the prosecution, Bilkisu Buhari, objected to the bail application, stating that “the defendant is a flight risk if granted bail.”

Justice Seidu, after listening to both parties, admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N20million and two sureties in like sum.

One of the sureties must be a relation to the second defendant, resident in Lagos and have landed property in Lagos, whose title documents must be verified by the court.

The second surety must be a civil servant on grade level 16 in Lagos.

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EFCC

EFCC detains finance commissioner

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained the Kwara state Commissioner of Finance and the Accountant General of the State, over investigations into alleged slush funds for 2019 elections.

A top EFCC source told Daily Trust that the duo are being held at the Ilorin, Kwara state Zonal head office of the anti-graft agency to explain the utilization of over N1 billion fund received from a commercial bank a few days to the election.

It was learnt that the Commissioner of Finance, Nurudeen Banu and the Accountant General of the state, Sulaiman Ishola, are being held to explain why the money was received and how it was disbursed.

The EFCC had been asked by the Kwara Coalition for Good Governance and Accountability (KWARA-CGGA) to probe the over N1billion loan the State Government secured from a bank a few days before the general elections.

The secretary general of the group, Hassan Omoiya said it had intelligence that the state government obtained the loan on 13th February from a first generation bank using the remittance of Kwara State VAT allocation due in February and March 2019 as collateral.

He said, “We urge the EFCC and indeed the Federal Ministry of Finance to determine the appropriateness of utilization of credit facility of N1 billion by Kwara State Government at the twilight of general election.”

Also, “The status of VAT Account as collateral for the credit facility in the absence of prior approval and authorization from Debt Management Office and Federal Ministry of Finance in tandem with extant laws and regulation on granting of loan to State Governments.

“It is our expectation that your investigation will extend to individuals and corporate institutions that participated in the unwholesome act with a view of prosecuting the affected individuals and institutions with attendant cost and penalty.”

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