$151m Deposits: Bankers, Civil Servants to Face Trial
By Dipo Olowookere
A list of suspects who will face trial over the $151 million and N8 billion found in fictitious bank accounts is in the works, The Nation learnt yesterday.
On the “long” list are bankers and civil servants, Attorney-General of the Federation Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) said.
He declined to name the suspects but stressed that the government is interested in knowing how the funds were sourced and lodged in the accounts.
Mr Malami, who spoke with our correspondent from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said: “But investigation is in top gear and I will not want to jeopardise it by giving out names of those affected.”
Pressed for more comments, Mr Malami said: “I am not certain of the number now but it is huge because it involved a syndicate.
“The culprits include civil servants and bank officials who all connived to stash away these recovered monies.”
He stressed that “no businessman was implicated but the suspects, who are many, are mostly civil servants and bank officials”.
Another government source said the suspects would be named in court when charges are preferred against them.
But there were strong indications yesterday that a commercial bank had written the Federal Government, owning up to the lodgment of $136,676,600.51 in a fictitious account with it.
The bank has promised to remit the slush funds into a dedicated account provided by the government.
The government official, who pleaded not to be named because of “the sensitivity of the matter”, said: “Before the government released the fact-sheet on the recovery of $136,676,600.51, it got a letter of from a commercial bank owning up that the cash was wired into a fictitious account in one of its branches.
“The bank also made a commitment to remit the seized cash to a dedicated account which has been provided by the Federal Government. We are expecting the refund from the bank any moment from now.
“We have the required evidence from the bank with the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (OAGF).”
The government source spoke on the investigation, saying “it is almost completed”.
He agreed that Nigerians were eager to know the suspects, but insisted that “we will release their names only after charges have been preferred against them in court”.
Also yesterday, a Federal High Court sitting in Kano, presided over by Justice Zainab B. Abubakar, ordered the forfeiture of the $9,772,00 and £74,000 by a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Andrew Yakubu, to the Federal Government.
The order was sequel to an ex-parte application by the EFCC seeking an interim forfeiture of the recovered money to the Federal Government.
A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the ex parte application was moved by Salihu Sani, counsel to the applicant.
The statement said: “In her ruling, Justice Zainab held that the sum of $9,772,000 and £74,000 which are now in the custody of the applicant (EFCC) are in the interim forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
“On the 3rd day of February, 2017, operatives of the Commission had stormed a building belonging to the former NNPC boss and recovered a staggering sum of $9,772,000 and £74,000 stashed in a huge fire proof safe. On February 8, 2017, Yakubu reported to the Commission’s Kano Zonal Office where he admitted being the owner of both the house and the money recovered.
“Yakubu is still in custody assisting the investigation.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday said the “whistle-blower policy has started yielding fruit as it has so far led to the recovery of US$151 million and N8billion in looted funds”.
He said: “The looted funds, which do not include the $9.772 million in cash allegedly owned by a former Group Managing Director of the NNPC (which was also a dividend of the whistle-blower policy), were recovered from just three sources through whistle-blowers who were recovered from just three sources through whistle-blowers who gave actionable information to the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.
“The biggest amount of $136,676,600.51 was recovered from an account in a commercial bank, where the money was kept under an apparently fake account name, followed by N7 billion and $15 million from another person and N1 billion from yet another.
“When we told Nigerians that there was a primitive and mindless looting of the national treasury under the last Administration, some people called us liars.
“Well, the whistle-blower policy is barely two months old and Nigerians have started feeling its impact, seeing how a few people squirreled away public funds.
“It is doubtful if any economy in the world will not feel the impact of such mind-boggling looting of the treasury as was experienced in Nigeria.
“Yet whatever has been recovered so far, including the $9.8 million by the EFCC, is just a tip of the iceberg.”