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EFCC to go after Jaiz Bank over disgraced fmr AGF alleged fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC, may soon summon Hassan Usman, the managing director of Jaiz Bank Plc, and other senior members of the Islamic bank for questioning regarding their alleged roles in the N109 billion that Ahmed Idris, the disgraced former Accountant General of the Federation, is accused of stealing, according to sources in the commission.

Idris, who is currently facing charges from the EFCC along with two other conspirators, Godfrey Olusegun Akindele and Mohammed Kudu, allegedly stole the enormous sums of money by hacking into the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), and smuggled away billions of naira that belonged to the government.

The group was last week charged before Justice A. O. Adeyemi Ajayi of the Maitama, Abuja-based Federal Capital Territory High Court.

Investigative work by the EFCC revealed that the former Accountant General had opened bank accounts with an Islamic bank and utilized those accounts to refine his money-laundering techniques.

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Investigations indicated that the bank was used to launder a sizable amount of money to high government officials at the federal and state levels, while the magazine is unable to determine the extent of some bank employees’ involvement in the crime.

According to information obtained by The Source Magazine, the commission is currently working to uncover any shady dealings the former AGoF may have had with some Islamic bank executives, which may have “enabled him to use the bank to launder public monies.” The bank must respond to important queries, according to an EFCC source.

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“The Accountant General and his accomplices must have chosen Jaiz bank, in order not to draw any suspicion from the public and banking regulators. But it’s now obvious that there’s no hidden place for the bank and greedy government officials who committed the fraud. The EFCC will get to the bottom of the fraud and expose those involved” another EFCC top official said on Tuesday.

“There is a need to question more top officials of the bank apart from the chief executive who must be privy to how and when huge sums of money were moved without deeming it fit to alert constituted authority in the country and EFCC. There’s no way huge sums will be moved without the MD’s knowledge, and we are quite sure these officials are not unaware of the money laundering law,” the official said.

The EFCC claimed that Idris utilized a substantial portion of the stolen money to launch businesses and buy real estate in Kano, where he is from, as well as Abuja and other places.

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These properties include, among others, the Kano City Mall, the Gezawa Exchange Limited, and the Gezawa Integrated Farms.

A portion of the earnings from the theft were also utilized by the disgraced former accountant general to bribe important members of the state and federal governments, including former governor Abdul’Aziz Yari of Zamfara state, who was at the time the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).

During the trial last week, an EFCC prosecution witness Hayatu Ahmed, said Idris has accounts with Jaiz Bank which he used to make payments to individuals and companies, including a N280 million he paid into “Gezawa Commodity Market with Jaiz Bank.”

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Additionally, it was discovered from EFCC sources that the bank was used in a large number of transactions that the disgraced Idris conducted with bureau de change. Several bureau de change in Kano and Abuja were paid via the bank, according to credible proof. The source stated that the dollar equivalent was then collected in cash and afterwards paid directly to people who had benefited from the crime.

Giving an overview of the fraud last week, the EFCC witness claimed that three groups shared the stolen money, including members of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), including one of its commissioners, Peace Akomas, a former deputy governor of the Abia State who is accused of collecting N18.8 billion.

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“The second group is the AGF group, and it got a total sum of N18.01 billion.

“The third group, the Commissioners of Finance in the nine oil producing states, received N21.4 billion. The money was withdrawn by Akindele, converted to US dollars, and handed over to Akomas on behalf of the group.

“The fourth group is called the Yari group. This group received N17.15 billion. The entirety of the sum was transferred to the account of Fimex Professional Services on the instruction of the representative of this group – Abdul’Aziz Yari, former Zamfara state governor.

“The remaining N8.9 billion was retained by the second defendant. Furthermore, N4.29 billion was converted to US dollars by Akindele as appreciation for the consultancy contract, and the balance of N4.6 billion was given to Akindele,” the EFCC witness said in court.

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Crime

Army uncovers 40 wells where oil thieves ‘fetch’ crude oil

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The war against illegal oil bunkering and oil theft received a huge boost on Wednesday as troops of the 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt uncovered over 40 dugout crude oil wells in Rumuekpe community, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The troops uncovered the site during a sweep-and-clear operation on the Trans Niger Delta Pipeline.

The operation was led by the General Officer Commanding 6 Division, Maj. Gen. Jamal Abdussalam.

Speaking to journalists after the operation, Abdussalam said the oil wells, which were about 40 feet deep, were the latest technique employed by criminals in stealing crude oil from underground.

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The GOC described the discovery as an eye-opener for the army in the war against oil theft in the Niger Delta region.

He explained that the miscreants had invented a technique of digging deep into the ground until they reached the crude oil deposits.

Abdussalam stated, “We have been conducting in the past two days and the aim of the operation was to clear the trans-Niger Delta pipeline because we have been receiving complaints from the SPDC of breaches on the TNP and based on that we decided to conduct an operation to sweep and clear the pipeline.

“It was in the course of that operation that we came to this particular location and you (journalists) have seen what we have seen.

“If you are not here, you may not believe what we are seeing. In this area, our troops have discovered more than 40 dugouts and these dugouts are not meant to access pipelines, they are dug out directly into the ground like well and surprisingly have access to crude oil.

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“This is the first time I’m seeing this type of thing. You can see all around us are pits and very deep, you will need ladders to have access to them and at the bottom is crude oil. So, they are just fetching crude just like water from a well.”

The COG described the discovery as saddening.

“It is entirely a new dimension. This is not an issue of pipeline vandalism, this one is digging directly into the ground and having access to these resources,” he remarked.

Abdussalam said he would notify the authorities of the development, pointing out that troops would be permanently stationed at the site to halt the illegal operations at the site.

“I will bring the attention of the relevant authorities to this site so that they can come and see what can be done.

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“But in the meantime, our men would be deployed so that we can stop people from accessing the area because it is even dangerous to the people involved in this because a little fire will kill everyone conducting this dastardly act.

“It is also not good for the system. See how the whole place has been dug out. It is also very dangerous for people who are not even aware of this because they can come blindly at night and fall inside this pit and that is the end.

“We would do the needful; we would not get tired until we rid this area of these criminals.”

He further said some suspects arrested at the scene were still in the custody of the army as investigation continues.

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“Few people have been arrested, they are in our custody, we hope they will give us useful information that would lead to the arrest of others that are involved in this act.”

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Answering questions from newsmen, one of the suspects confessed to the crime, saying the wells belonged to different families in the community.

He revealed that sometimes diggers die in the process of digging the wells when they inhale the smell of the gas, saying they were usually paid about N40, 000 to excavate a well of about 15 feet.

The suspects, whose name was not revealed as of the time of filing this report, stated, “It is owned by the community and not by one person.

“To get oil, sometimes if the place is like here, we dig like 10 to 15 feet. When we dig it and notice that the gas is rising, if you do not run out on time people might suffocate and we bring them out half-dead, but the unlucky ones die.

“When we bring them out, we pour water on them and give them coke. After the gas the oil will come out and another set will come to fetch it after we have finished digging it.”

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NDLEA intercepts ‘single largest’ heroin consignment at Lagos airport

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has intercepted what it described as the single largest heroin consignment at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos State.

The agency also said it had arrested members of an organised criminal organisation that specialises in trafficking heroin across Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Europe, and America in an operation leading to the seizure of the consignment, which weighed 51.90 kilograms on February 12, 2024.

Meanwhile, checks by Press revealed that the seized drugs have an estimated worth of £5,190,000 (N10,365,987,000 at the N1,997.3/£ exchange rate) in street value of £100,000 per kilogram.

The Chairman of the NDLEA, Buba Marwa (retd.), while briefing journalists on Tuesday in Lagos, said the operation was the single largest seizure of heroin at the airport.

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The NDLEA boss said the consignment was concealed in 15 cartons of 2300-watt metal cutting machines and set to be delivered at a warehouse in the Ipaja area.

He noted that there was a parallel between the seizure and the September 18, 2022, seizure of 2,139.5 kg of cocaine in a warehouse in the Ikorodu area of the state, which he described as the biggest singular cocaine seizure in the history of NDLEA.

He said, “NDLEA operatives of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Command intercepted a suspicious package at the SAHCO Import Shed of the airport’s cargo terminal.

“The consignment was concealed in 15 cartons of 2300-watt metal cutting machines. Each carton was stocked with three blocks of high-grade heroin. In total, we recovered 45 blocks of the illicit substance with a total weight of 49.70kg.”

Marwa added after the discovery, the agency arrested a freight agent, Olowolagba Wasiu Babatunde, hired for clearing services by one Mr. Kola resident in South Africa.

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While chronicling the sequence of the operation, the NDLEA boss said, “Next, we conducted a follow-up operation at the company’s warehouse in the Shogunle area of Oshodi, Lagos, and arrested the warehouse manager, whose name is Ajayi Lmole Moses.

“Thereafter, we set up an ambush for the expected receiver of the consignment, who was duly arrested when he showed up for collection. This receiver, whose name is Adinnu Felix Chinedu, confessed during interrogation that he is the main distributor for a drug syndicate whose membership is spread across Nigeria.

“He admitted that he usually conveyed the consignment to a dedicated warehouse located in Ayobo. That place served as a workshop where he would dismantle the consignment and remove the drugs from the machines. Thereafter, he would wait for a list of various recipients to be forwarded to him from South Africa by the head of the criminal group.

“Our operatives did due diligence by conducting a thorough search of the warehouse, which led to the recovery of 56 similar cartons of the cutting machines that were used previously as modes of concealment to ferry heroin into Nigeria. At this point, it was clear that we were dealing with a syndicate that operates in other countries. By the time we were done exploring the various leads we had, we had unraveled an organized criminal network that operates in South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, and parts of Europe and America.

He said the syndicate had a wide network in Nigeria because the consignments seized were marked with several codenames, showing that they belonged to different members of the organised criminal group.

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He explained that the agency, during a follow-up operation, uncovered from the suspect a long list of receivers of illicit drugs and was able to identify the kingpin of the syndicate, Reginald Peter Chidiebere, who owned the Golden Platinum Hotel and Suite, located at 16 Reginald Peter Chidiebere Street, Hope Estate, Ago Palace.

The NDLEA boss said several days of surveillance on the hotel culminated in a raid operation on Monday, February 19, in which another drug mule, Igboanugo Thankgod, was found in possession of two parcels of 2.2 kg of heroin with codes similar to the ones found on the seized drug shipment, bringing the total seizure to 51.90 kilograms.

“He readily confessed that he was invited by Mr. Reginald Peter Chidiebere to the hotel on Sunday, February 18, 2024. He was lodged in one of the rooms and was later summoned by the receptionist to meet a guest, from whom Reginald Peter Chidiebere had informed him over the phone to receive a package. This sequence of action was confirmed by a review of the CCTV at the hotel,” he stated.

He said the pre-emptive actions taken against members of the syndicate include freezing a total of 107 bank accounts associated with 14 members of the cartel as well as N119,582,928.31 found in some of the already traced bank accounts.

He added that the hotel and a mansion linked to the head of the syndicate in Nigeria, Reginald Chidiebere, and another mansion linked to the head of the syndicate in Mozambique, Festus Ibewuike, located in the Ago Palace area, had already been marked for forfeiture to the Federal Government.

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He noted the measure yielded further fruit on Thursday, February 22, when a female member of the syndicate and wife of Festus Ibewuike, Mrs Confidence Ibewuike, who is one of those to collect part of the consignment from Adinnu Felix Chinedu, was arrested at the Ago Palace area on Thursday.

He said a search was promptly conducted in their residence located in the Ago Palace area of Festac Town, where a Toyota Venza car was recovered, as well as several documents, including bank and property documents belonging to Festus lbewuike, adding that their mansion in the Ago Palace area had also been marked for forfeiture to the Federal Government.

“NDLEA has shared comprehensive intelligence with our South African counterparts for necessary action regarding the other members of the group living in that country,” Marwa stressed.

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I’m back to chase killer herdsmen out – Sunday Igboho

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Yoruba nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho has said that he is ready to face and chase out killer herdsmen from Yorubaland.

Adeyemo said this in a video that went viral on Tuesday where he was seen addressing some people who were cheering him following the burial of his mother in his hometown, Igboho area of Oyo State.

According to the activist who spoke in Yoruba, the Federal Government and the soldiers deployed to Yorubaland, especially to Ekiti where monarchs were killed in broad daylight cannot combat the supposed killers.

He said, “I want you all to stand with me so that we can liberate ourselves from the herders encroaching on our lands. Let us mount security in all the Yoruba lands ourselves, if not, they will take our lands.

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“We don’t have to wait for the government or anyone. Let’s just work in unison. We cannot farm on our lands because of these herders. And our people are going hungry and angry. We don’t need the soldiers the government claims to have deployed to Ekiti State. We work in accordance with our elders and mount the places ourselves.

“It was my mother that was my fear before but now she’s gone, I have nothing to be scared of again. I am now back to take back our land.”

While faulting the rumour about him working for politicians, the Ibadan-based activist queried if he could be working for politicians and if they would still want him dead.

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“I am not working for any politician. In fact, if I incidentally slapped someone, the government would be ready to arrest me and put me behind bars. I know they are watching me closely now to know my next action but I’m ready to take a step to stop these marauders’ activities in our lands,” he maintained.

Theheute reported in 2021 that Adeyemo escaped from a deadly night raid on his Ibadan residence by the operatives of the Department of State Service.

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He was subsequently arrested in Benin Republic on his way to Germany on July 19 together with his wife, Ropo. Although, he was released in October 2023.

Recently, the freedom fighter returned to Nigeria, ahead of his mother’s burial.

Igboho said the raid on his Ibadan residence was an attempt to assassinate him.

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