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N19bn Paris Club scam: EFCC report indicts Saraki, aides, ex-bank MD

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has submitted a report to President Muhammadu Buhari linking Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and some of his aides to the diversion of about N19bn from the N522bn Paris Club refund.

 

The report also fingered Mr. Robert Mbonu of Melrose General Services Limited.

 

Mbonu is a former Managing Director of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, the commercial bank owned by the Saraki family which was later liquidated.

 

The Federal Government had, in December 2016, approved the sum of N522.74bn to be paid to the 36 states of the federation as part of the reimbursement of the over-deduction on the Paris Club loan from 1995 to 2002.

 

The EFCC had sometimes in January discovered that the loan refunds were illegally routed through the account of the Nigeria Governors Forum by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

 

Upon receiving the funds, the NGF, in an alleged connivance with Saraki, began remitting huge sums to private consultants who then laundered about N19bn.

 

According to the report, apart from the NGF, others under investigation include the Relationship Manager to the Senate President in Access Bank, Kathleen Erhimu.

 

Some others under probe and identified as Saraki’s aides include Obiora Amobi, Gbenga Makanjuola, Kolawole Shittu and Oladapo Idowu.

 

The report alleges that sometimes in December, Saraki introduced the ex-bank MD, Mbonu, to Erhimu.

 

Others at the meeting were Saraki’s aforementioned aides.

 

It added that sequel to the meeting, the sum of N3.5bn was lodged into Melrose General Services Company account number 0005892453, domiciled in Access Bank from the Nigeria Governors Forum on December 14.

 

The report stated that two of Saraki’s aides, Obiora Amobi and Gbenga Makanjuola, were introduced to Access Bank as representatives of Melrose General Services Limited by Mbonu to enable them to make cash withdrawals from the account.

 

It added that Amobi and Makanjuola made cash withdrawals in various tranches of N5m and N10m.

 

The report reads in part, “Based on the foregoing findings, it is clear that Robert Mbonu, the Managing Director of Melrose General Services Company and his company were used to help divert proceeds of unlawful activities under the guise of payment for contractual obligations with the Nigeria Governors Forum.

 

“Suffice to apprise that all payments received by Melrose General Services Company from the NGF have hitherto been diverted directly via cash withdrawals and indirectly through transfers by Gbenga Peter Makanjuola, Kolawole Shittu and Oladapo Joseph Idowu, who are principal aides to the Senate President.

 

“Furthermore, other payments from Melrose General Services Company have also been linked to companies that Dr. Bukola Saraki has interest in and carries out transactions with.

 

“This includes the sum of $183,000, which was transferred to Bhaska Devji Jewellers, Dubai, a company Dr. Bukola Saraki had repeatedly made payments to.

 

“Also, the sum of N200m was transferred to Wasp Networks Limited that subsequently transferred the sum of N170m to Xtract Energy Services Limited, a company that routinely made deposits into Dr. Saraki’s Access Bank US Dollar Domiciliary account.”

 

The report concludes that a prima facie case of conspiracy to retain the proceeds of unlawful activities  and money laundering, contrary to sections 15(3) and 18(9) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2004, could be established against the aforementioned suspects.

 

“Additionally, investigation into their personal accounts is ongoing,” it adds.

 

When contacted, the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, who spoke on behalf of Saraki, said he would not react except he sighted the report.

 

“Send the report to me and I will be able to read it and contact the necessary people. If I don’t see the report, I cannot react to it in abstract. Send me the report if you want our reaction,” he said.

 

The spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that investigations were ongoing into the Paris Club scam.

 

He, however, said he did not know the specifics of the investigations.

 

“I can only confirm that there are investigations but I don’t have details,” Uwujaren said.

 

Source: The Punch

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Between Gov. Hope Uzodimma And Imo Hoteliers…….

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Governor Hope Uzodimma has prevented the proposed strike by the Imo Hoteliers Association.

The strike was scheduled to commence on Tuesday but the Chairman of the association, Mr. Chima Chukwunyere announced in Owerri that the strike has been suspended.

Chukwunyere said that the proposed strike was suspended after due consultations with Gov. Uzodimma.

According to him, Uzodimma promised to personally intervene to solve all the outstanding issues raised by the association.

“The governor condemned the actions of sealing and looting of the hotels illegally and directed that no ministry should use consultants in revenue collection.

” He promised to convene a meeting of the executives of the Imo Internal Revenue Service and those of the Nigeria Hotel Association, Imo chapter, to harmonize the demand notice issued to the hoteliers.“

Chukwunyere said that the governor also advised members to pay taxes to enable the Imo government to function and serve the state better.

The association on Sept. 10 threatened to embark on strike over alleged multiple taxations, illegal sealing of hotels, and unprofessional conduct of revenue collectors.

 

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Despite his “expulsion”, ADC presidential candidate, Kachikwu, makes INEC list

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Mr Kachikwu was expelled from the party last Friday by the Ralph Nwosu-led NWC.

The embattled presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dumebi Kachikwu, has been named among candidates validly nominated by political parties for the 2023 presidential election despite his “expulsion” from the party.

Mr Kachikwu was among the 18 presidential candidates approved by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday.

The Ralph Nwosu-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party announced the expulsion of Mr Kachikwu from the party last Friday for alleged anti-party activities.

He was expelled along with seven other key party leaders following the recommendation of a seven-member disciplinary committee earlier set up by the ADC NWC. The NWC had earlier on 2 September placed the presidential candidate on suspension.

Mr Nwosu, in a statement issued late Friday, said the disciplinary committee found Mr Kachikwu guilty of allegations of gross misconduct, and gross violations of its constitution, among others.

But in its reaction the following day, the interim leadership of the ADC dismissed Mr Kachikwu’s purported expulsion.

The interim National Chairman of the Party, Patricia Akwashiki, in a statement, described the action of the erstwhile chairman, Mr Nwosu, as the antics of a sinking man clutching at straws.

The crisis rocking the ADC has its genesis in the call for the resignation of the national chairman by 27 state chairmen of the party, having spent 17 years in the office.

At the time of filing this report, we could not confirm if the party’s leadership had made formal or legal requests to the commission to remove the candidate from the list.

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Stella Obasanjo’s brother, John Abebe, arraigned for fraud

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Dr. John Abebe, the younger brother of a former First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, was on Monday arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday before the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja over allegations of fraud.

Abebe was arraigned alongside a former Head of Firstbank Plc, United Kingdom Correspondent Office, Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, before Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe on six charges of conspiracy, stealing, and obtaining money under pretence.

Part of the counts against the defendants read: “That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; stealing the sum of N120 million worth of property of Arsenal Technologies Limited.”

“That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; obtaining by false pretence the sum of N120 million property of Arsenal Technologies Limited under the pretence that your property lying being and situate at 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos State, which you pledged as the security to the Arsenal Technologies Limited was unencumbered, which representation you knew to be false.”

“That you Dr. John Abebe and Inducon Nigeria Limited, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and to gain for yourself the sum of $1,000,000.00 or its Naira equivalent from Arsenal Technologies Limited by false pretence to procure the execution of valuable security to wit; a deed of assignment between Inducon Nigeria Limited and Arsenal Technologies Limited, wherein you falsely claimed that the property lying being and situate at No. 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos was unencumbered and that you have full powers to assign and transfer the said property to the assignor; Arsenal Technologies Limited.

According to EFCC, the offences committed are contrary to Sections 280(1), (12), 8 (7), 285(1) and 278(1)(b) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following their plea, the prosecutor, Sulaimon urged the court to fix a trial date and to remand the defendants in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services until the hearing and determination of the charge.

However, the defense counsel, Anthony Popo and Sam Etaifo urged the court to grant their clients bail in the most liberal terms.

While moving the bail application on behalf of Abebe, Popo told the judge that the matter before her is a commercial transaction between the first defendant and the nominal complainant, which he is ready to settle out of court.

He also claimed that Abebe had paid back the sums of $100,000 and N30 million to the complainant and had also deposited the title document of 26 acres of land and the documents of a property in London to show his seriousness to resolve the matter.

The lawyer further submitted that the defendant would not jump bail since he never violated the terms of the administrative bail granted to him by the EFCC.

The prosecutor did not oppose the application but urged the court to impose stringent terms that will ensure the defendant’s appearance in court for their trial.

In her ruling, Justice Abike-Fadipe granted the first defendant bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum.

She directed that the surety must be a resident of Lagos and must deposit the title document of a land property whose value must not be less than N20m

The judge also admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum, who must be a resident of the state.

Justice Abike-Fadipe further ordered that the defendant shall continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted to them by the EFCC but if they failed after seven days to perfect the terms of the bail she granted them, they shall be arrested and remanded in prison.

She adjourned the case to December 6 for commencement of trial.

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