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How Wema Bank offered bribe to stop N1.7bln heist investigation

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A report by the Nigeria Police Force has exposed how Wema Bank Plc offered bribe to the police officer investigating the N1.7billion illegally moved to account number 0122367964 domiciled in the financial institution and operated by one Isaac Adewole, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God by top officials of the bank.

According to the report on SaharaReporters, the Wema Bank staff members fingered in the fraudulent activities are the bank’s Executive Director, Wole Akinleye; Head of Cooperate Banking, Emmanuel Edah, and Head of Oil and Gas, Kingsley Ananwude.

The report signed by the Commander of Area G, Lagos, ACP Ibrahim Zungura, said multiple fraudulent transactions were carried out through the account.

“The culpability of WEMA Bank officers was further confirmed when the officers tried to bribe investigating officers with large envelopes that contained money.

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“The officers declined the bribes but the Bank persisted. The officials spent time begging and persuading the inestigating officers to drop the case. The Executive Director of the Bank, Mr Wole Akinleye, was also invited and he tried hard to derail and stop the investigation. He also wrote a letter to ask that he be exonerated from the case when it was clearly established that the bank could not explain the transactions, that the movement of funds was a form of stealing from the bank which is sometimes referred to as ‘pay off source’.

“This is shown by the facts that the funds deposited were not removed in that order or in the sums deposited but carefully removed in different tranches as it is shown on the account statements. For his own part, Mr Adewole refused to cooperate with he investigations but instead did everything he could to assist the bank in covering up,” the report exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters read.

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Meanwhile, the police has charged one Ojo Oladipupo, Chief Security Officer of Wema Bank Plc, to court for attempted bribery.

He was accused of offering a policeman, ASP Jonathan Egwemi (A/P No: 143699), monetary reward in order to stop him from carrying out a detail investigation into the fraudulent and money laundering activities of the bank.

“That you Ojo Oladipupo “M” and others now at large on the same date, time and place in the aforementioned magisterial district did intentionally attempt to offer the station officer A/P No: 143699 ASP Jonathan Egwemi monetary reward in order to reframe him from carrying out a detail investigation into the fraudulent and money laundering activities of your organization i.e WEMA Bank Nigeria Plc and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 64 of the criminal laws of Lagos State of Nigeria,” one of the charges read.

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SaharaReporters had reported how N1.7billion were fraudulently moved to account number 0122367964, domiciled in the financial institution and operated by Adewole.

Multiple sources familiar with the fraud said Adewole, who is also the Managing Director of Shibawells Energy Limited, approached the bank in 2018 for a loan to boost his oil trading business using his neighbour’s assets as collateral.

Granting the loan to the pastor, the financial institution opened an account for him where the money was paid.

The account was, however, used to illegally move N1.7billion from the bank in 2021 to multiple accounts operated by top staff members and their proxies.

“He used his neighbour’s house for collateral of the loan which was granted to him and promised to return it within six months. But three years after, the man approached him for his house document, that was when he told him of the fraudulent act. He said the bank paid N1.7billion into the account using different multinational companies like Dana Airlines, Caverton Helicopter and two others, one N300million, one N270million, one N600million and like that, it’s only one of the transactions that they didn’t put a name there,” a policeman involved in the case had told SaharaReporters.

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“Guess what they do after, they now moved that N1.7billion from Adewole’s account into different bank accounts in tranches. Like the one I told you —N600million, they immediately put it in another account in form of N150million, N100million, N100million, N90million. The pastor’s account is known as Shibawells Energy Limited. The one for Dana that they moved N160million to, that was how they did it too, they immediately sent it to another account in smaller units as well.

“So the pastor approached the bank instead of the police. The top management staff involved called him and asked him what he wanted, they now ended with an agreement that the bank would give him an extra loan of N1.5billion and he agreed. Remember I told you this man is the Managing Director of Shibawells Energy Limited, a company that does supply aviation fuel. So we realised it was well planned and the names of Dana, Caverton and others were intentionally used to cover up the fraud so people won’t notice. We also realised in our investigation that this money was given to the banks by the CBN and these top officials had to use an account to move it out and use it for something else.

“He has a partner, we called him and realised he wasn’t aware of the transaction. He was shocked, he realised the statement presented to him was forged to hide the fraudulent transaction.”

According to Adewole’s statement of account obtained by SaharaReporters, on January 28 2021 via transaction ID No: M35660, he received the sum of N424,811,000 from Caverton, N160,000,000 from Dana and N630,000,000 from Beam Energy, all with the same transaction number.

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On June 18, 2021 via transaction ID No: M104031, the pastor received the sum of N300,000,000 via NIP transfer from an undisclosed account source.

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Also on same June 18, 2021, via transaction ID No: M104031, Adewole received the sum of N270,000,000 from Messrs Morrifoil Oil and Gas Ltd., all totalling N1,784,811,000.

When contacted, a source at Dana Air said the airline didn’t do any transaction with Adewole nor his company, Shibawells Energy Limited.

“If I tell you we aren’t aware of this case, then I’m lying, the police some time ago invited us and we were surprised that the company’s name was used for such a fraudulent transaction. It will be wrong for me to share our bank statement with you but such a transaction wasn’t authorised by us,” a source at Dana Air told SaharaReporters.

“We weren’t involved in such a deal, only the bank management can tell you why they use Dana’s name for the transaction. Go to the bank tomorrow and send money to anyone and use Dana as the sender they won’t stop you from doing that. Jokes apart, if we have that kind of amount, my brother, we don’t have any problem,” the source added.

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Crime

NDLEA declares India-based Nigerian couple wanted, arrests four cartel members

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has declared a couple, Kazeem Omogoriola Owoalade and Rashidat Ayinke Owoalade, wanted for running a cocaine cartel from India.

This follows the arrest of four members of the syndicate in Lagos, where a Sports Utility Vehicle was recovered and two houses traced to them were sealed for forfeiture to the Federal Government.

This was made known in a statement signed by the agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, and shared on its website on Sunday.

The statement read, “A couple, Kazeem Omogoriola Owoalade (alias Abdul Qassim Adisa Balogun) and Rashidat Ayinke Owoalade (alias Bolarinwa Rashidat Ayinke), who runs a cocaine cartel from India has been declared wanted by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency following the arrest of four members of the syndicate in Lagos where a Sports Utility Vehicle was recovered and two houses already traced to them sealed for forfeiture to the Federal Government.

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“Two members of the syndicate: Imran Taofeek Olalekan and Ishola Isiaka Olalekan were arrested on April 3, 2024 following their bid to export 3.40kg cocaine on a Qatar Airlines flight going to Oman through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA Ikeja Lagos.

“While Imran was the courier conveying the drug consignment to Oman, Ishola recruited him for the head of the cartel, which investigation has now revealed to be Alhaji Kazeem Omogoriola Owoalade whose Indian residence permit bears Abdul Qassim Adisa Balogun based in India.

“Efforts to dismantle his network in Nigeria paid off after five weeks of surveillance and follow up operations when another member of the syndicate, Hamed Abimbola Saheed, who works directly with the baron was arrested on Tuesday 14th May at Abule Egba area of Lagos. It was indeed Saheed who lodged Imran in a hotel a day before his aborted trip to Oman and equally dropped him and Ishola at the Lagos airport the day they were arrested.”

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During a search of Hamed’s house, NDLEA operatives were said to have recovered some phenacetine, a cutting agent for Cocaine, weighing 900 grams.

He was said to have confessed that the recovered substance was what was left of the consignment Imran was taking to Oman the day he was arrested.

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His arrest led to a follow up operation at the home of the Owoalade couple at 20, Eyiaro Street, Ogudu Orioke, Lagos where another suspect was arrested and a new model Toyota RAV4 SUV marked FKJ-773 JJ belonging to Rashidat and additional 400 grams of Cocaine recovered in addition to already prepared suitcases to be used for illicit drug concealment, digital weighing scales and other paraphernalia.

NDLEA officers also intercepted two parcels at a courier firm in Lagos on May 15.

The parcels contained cocaine (587g) hidden in steel bolts bound for China and amphetamine concealed in vape pens and shea butter heading to the UK.

The statement added that an attempt to export 3.6kg of cannabis (loud strain) hidden in 36 water flasks to Dubai was foiled at a logistics company in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on May 16.

The owner of the consignment, Emeka Nwadiaro (aka Mega), was arrested in Onitsha, Anambra State, on the same day following a swift follow-up operation.

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The statement added, “While NDLEA operatives in Lagos intercepted a Mercedes Benz bus loaded with 840kg cannabis and arrested the driver, Samuel Henry, at Olojo in Ojo LGA, Lagos, another suspect, Lawal Adam was nabbed along Otukpo road, Aliade, Benue state on Friday 17th May with 75,000 pills of opioids including tramadol and exol-5. Two suspects: Olisa Etisi, 32, and Jonathan Umeh, 25, were arrested along Owerri – Onitsha road, Imo state following the discovery by NDLEA operatives of a big gas cyclinder used to conceal six blocks of Loud, a strain of cannabis weighing 3.85kg.

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“In Borno State, 70-year-old Adamu Mohammed was arrested at Mbulamel, Biu LGA on Thursday, 16th May with 2kg cannabis and 33.55grams of diazepam, while Gaddafi Sani, 27, was arrested with 30 kilograms of cannabis along Abuja-Kaduna road, Kaduna.”

NDLEA officers in Yobe State seized a large consignment of drugs from a petrol tanker on the Potiskum-Damaturu Road.

The drugs, which included 91.1kg of opioids and 13kg of cannabis, were hidden in secret compartments and were heading for Maiduguri, Borno State.

The driver, Ismaila Ali, was arrested in connection with the discovery.

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NDLEA officers also arrested four suspects in connection with the seizure of 2,025 pieces of improvised explosive devices (IED) materials in Niger State.

Two suspects, Abdulrauf Shitu Adeyemi and Asmiyu Rahim, were arrested on the spot, while Husaini Abdullahi and Nazifi Abdullahi were arrested in Sokoto and Kano respectively, following a follow-up operation.

The suspects and the explosive materials have been transferred to the appropriate security agency for further investigation. In a separate operation, Muhammad Lawal was arrested in Katsina state with 1,000 ampoules of Pentazocine injection.

A total of 105kg cannabis was on Friday, May 17, recovered from a house at Obola community, Owan West LG, Edo State, and a suspect, Gloria Oris, arrested when NDLEA officers raided the area.

In Kwara State, two suspects: Abdulganiyu Karaman, 55, and Sunday Abel, 37, were on Saturday 18th May arrested with 83kg cannabis and tramadol at Boriya, Baruten LGA, and Offa respectively.

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NDLEA officers also recovered 105kg of cannabis from a house in the Obola community, Edo state, and arrested a suspect, Gloria Oris, on May 17th. Additionally, two suspects, Abdulganiyu Karaman and Sunday Abel, were arrested in Kwara State on May 18, with 83kg of cannabis and tramadol.

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Crime

NURTW member, two others jailed for drug trafficking

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A 45-year-old driver and member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Tapha Mustapha, and two others, were on Thursday convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for trafficking hard drugs.

Other convicts sentenced alongside the NURTW member are Andrew Ukelere and Anthony Chiemerem.

The three convicts were earlier arraigned before the court by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, on April 27, 2024, on charges bordering on conspiracy, trafficking in 13.9 kilograms of tramadol and 590 litres of Pentazocine, a psychotropic drug similar to cocaine.

During their arraignment, the prosecutor, Mariam I. Erondu, who was represented by Julian Negedu, told the court that the convicts were arrested with the drugs on March 19, 2024, on the Long Bridge area of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos State.

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According to the prosecutor, the offences committed contravened Sections 11(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N 30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and are punishable under the same Act.

The trio, however, pleaded guilty to the charges.

Following their guilty plea, Justice Kehinde Ogundare, adjourned the matter to Thursday for a review of facts and sentence, and then ordered that they be remanded at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre.

At the resumed hearing of the matter for review of facts, the prosecutor called Mr Benjamin Naetah, a Senior Exhibits Keeper with the agency, who tendered the drugs and other exhibits, which were admitted by the court.

Upon the conclusion of the review of facts, the prosecutor urged the court to convict and sentence the trio in accordance with the sections of the NDLEA Act that they were charged with.

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But the convicts’ lawyers, Lilian Omotunde and Ore-Ofe Ogunleye, in their plea for mercy, urged the court to award a non-custodian sentence on their clients, being first-time convicts and for not wasting the time of the court.

Omotunde, who is the counsel for the first and second convicts, said: “The first convict is a first-time offender; he is a member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers. He was contracted by the roadside to deliver a good after Lagos State, but he was caught up by the law.

“The second convict is a 35-year-old medicine store attendant, who was sent on an errand by his master.

“I urge the court to award a non-custodian sentence,” she said.

Also, counsel for the third convict, Ogunleye, urged the court to award a non-custodian sentence to her client.

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She particularly cited Section 426(2) paragraphs a, b, d and e of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

Responding to the counsel’s submissions, the prosecutor, Erondu, who also cited Section 311 of ACJA, urged the court to consider the commercial quantity of the prohibited drug seized from the convicts and the damage it would have done to the country.

In his judgment, Justice Ogundare sentenced the first and second convicts to two years imprisonment, while the third convict was sentenced to a year imprisonment.

The judge however ordered both the first and second convicts to pay the sum of N500,000 each, and the third convict to pay the sum of N100,000, in lieu of the jail term.

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NAFDAC arrests five for allegedly selling fake cosmetics in Abuja

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The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Wednesday in Abuja arrested five persons for selling counterfeit cosmetics.

Theheute reports that the arrest was made at the Garki and Wuse axis, during an enforcement to curb the sales of substandard goods.

Speaking with newsmen after the enforcement, Mr Embugushiki-Musa Godiya, NAFDAC Head of Investigation and Enforcement, Federal Taskforce, said that the arrested persons would be investigated.

Godiya said that NAFDAC would work to ensure that fake cosmetics and other counterfeit products were completely wiped out of the country.

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He said that the agency had been investigating some of these counterfeit cosmetics, following intelligence reports. He added that some of these products were illegally imported into the country, in spite of security at the border.

“NAFDAC is present in all the ports of entry of the country, but with the nature of our borders, these smugglers will always find a way to beat the system that the government has put in place.

“That is why if they escape from the port or borders, we go to the market and to all the places, gather intelligence reports, go after them and confiscate these products for possible prosecution,” Godiya said.

He said that the market value of the seized cosmetics was N35 million, adding that NAFDAC would continue investigation into the issue, to unravel the level of involvement of the suspects.

Godiya said that after investigation, the management of the agency may prosecute those suspects for the crime committed.

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He called on Nigerians to collaborate with NAFDAC to fight counterfeit products in the country.

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