N37bn fraud: Buhari’s minister to face EFCC interrogators January 3

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has invited the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, over an ongoing probe into the N37,170,855,753.44 allegedly laundered under her watch through a contractor, James Okwete.

The former minister was asked to appear before interrogators at the EFCC headquarters, Jabbi, Abuja on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, to explain the alleged fraud, an exclusive document seen by our correspondent on Saturday revealed.

The document read in part, “The commission is investigating a case of money laundering involving the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development during your time as minister.

“In view of the above, you are requested to kindly report for an interview with the undersigned. Scheduled as follows: Wednesday, 3rd of January, 2024. Time: 10am. This request is made pursuant to Section 38 (I) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 & Section 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”

The ex-minister could not be reached for comments on Saturday as her telephone indicated that it was switched off. When our correspondent contacted her former media aide, Nneka Ikem, over the development, she told our correspondent off and proceeded to switch off her phone.

“As you’re asking me? I’ll be asking you too, where did you learn that the EFCC has invited her, “ Ikem queried before ending the call. Subsequent calls indicated that her phone had been switched off.

Umar-Farouq had earlier denied knowledge of the contractor, James Okwete, who is still being held by the anti-graft agency.

The former minister tweeted on her X handle on Monday, “There have been a number of reports linking me to a purported investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission into the activities of one James Okwete, someone completely unknown to me.

“James Okwete neither worked for, nor represented me in any way whatsoever. The linkages and associations to my person are spurious. While I resist the urge to engage in any media trial whatsoever, I have however contacted my legal team to explore possible options to seek redress on the malicious attack on my person.

“I remain proud to have served my country as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with every sense of responsibility and would defend my actions, stewardship and programmes during my tenure whenever I am called upon to do so.”

The spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, declined comments on the ex-minister’s invitation when contacted by Sunday PUNCH.

“I’m not around at the moment, and I can’t speak on that, please,” Oyewale said.

Sunday PUNCH had earlier reported that the EFCC had arrested Okwete in connection with the ongoing probe into the N37.1bn allegedly laundered by the ministry under Umar-Farouq.

A top EFCC official, who confided in our correspondent, said the contractor had made useful statements concerning Umar-Farouq and former directors-general of agencies under the ministry.

The development coincides with the probe of three other ministers, who served under former President Muhammadu Buhari for alleged graft estimated at N150bn.

“It is not only Umar-Farouk we are investigating. Three other former ministers are also under probe. They were allegedly involved in graft to the tune of N150bn,” a credible source in the EFCC had confided in our correspondent.

Sources revealed that Umar-Farouq and some former directors-general of agencies under the ministry might be arrested by the commission following the details of the alleged financial misappropriation so far revealed to interrogators by the contractor.

Investigations by the anti-graft agency allegedly revealed that the N37.1bn was transferred from the Federal Government’s coffers and sent to 38 different bank accounts domiciled in five legacy commercial banks belonging to or connected with Okwete.

Impeccable sources had earlier confirmed to Sunday PUNCH that Okwete was cooperating with investigators.

According to the EFCC officials, the contractor was arrested four days ago.

A source said, “The contractor, Mr Okwete, who was used in laundering the money, has been arrested by the commission. He is currently in our custody and has been giving investigators more details that have indicted the former minister and some DGs under the ministry, and they may be brought in anytime soon too.”

Another source stated, “The contractor involved in the N37.bn fraud has been arrested and will spend Christmas in our custody. He has given some names, and the former humanitarian affairs minister and directors-general in the ministry were linked to the fraud.”

Sunday PUNCH reports that the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs currently serves as the parent ministry to eight agencies, including the National Social Investment Office, the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internationally Displaced Persons, among others.

Umar-Farouq was the pioneer Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

She was appointed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2019 as the youngest cabinet member.

Her work with Buhari dates back to his days as the leader and presidential candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change when she was the national treasurer of the party and later the national treasurer of the All Progressives Congress.

Documents obtained by Sunday PUNCH revealed that following receipt of the funds, Okwete allegedly transferred N6,746,034,000 to Bureau De Change operators, withdrew N540m, purchased luxury cars with N288,348,600 and bought luxury houses in Abuja and Enugu State with N2,195,115,000.

A total of 53 companies were reportedly traced to Okwete, who was also said to have used 47 of the firms to secure Federal Government contracts amounting to N27,423,824,339.86.

He was also linked with 143 bank accounts in 12 commercial banks of which 134 accounts are corporate accounts linked to different companies.

Checks by our correspondent with the Corporate Affairs Commission revealed that Okwete is a director in only 11 of the 53 companies, while the remaining 42 companies’ accounts are linked to his Bank Verification Number as a signatory to the accounts.

The document stated, “Between 2018 and 2023, the subject (Okwete) received the sum of N37,170,855,753.44 from the coffers of the Federal Government linked to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“The money was sent to 38 bank accounts domiciled in five legacy commercial banks. The suspect transferred N6,746,034,000 to Bureau De Change operators, N540mn withdrawn in cash, N288,348,600 used to purchase cars, and used N2,195,115,000 to purchase choice properties within Abuja and Enugu State.

“Fifty-three companies were traced to the suspect. He used 47 of the companies to lift Federal Government contracts amounting to N27,423,824,339.86.

“Okwete is associated with 143 bank accounts in 12 commercial banks in which 134 of the 143 accounts are corporate accounts linked to different companies.”

In 2020, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission said it uncovered N2.67bn meant for the ministry’s school feeding programme in private bank accounts.

The former ICPC Chairman, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed that the commission unravelled N2.67bn in personal accounts, being payment made to some federal colleges for school feeding during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

Other discoveries by the ICPC include 18 buildings, 12 business premises and 25 plots of land.

Owasanoye said under the Open Treasury Portal review carried out between January and August 15, 2020, of the 268 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, 72 had cumulative infractions of N90m.

The former ICPC chairman argued that the money was paid when children were not in school.

(Punch)

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N187bn fraud: EFCC arrests humanitarian ministry’s contractor, probes four Buhari ministers

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested a contractor, James Okwete, in connection with the ongoing probe into the N37bn allegedly laundered by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development under former Minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouk.

A top EFCC official, who confided in our correspondent on Sunday, said the contractor had made useful statements concerning  Umar-Farouk and former directors-general of the ministry.

The development coincides with the probe of three other ministers, who served under former President Muhammadu Buhari, for graft estimated at N150bn.

“It is not only Umar-Farouk we are investigating. Three other former ministers are also under probe. They were allegedly involved in graft to the tune of N150bn,’’ a credible source in the EFCC confided in our correspondent on Sunday.

Sources said Umar-Farouk and some former agencies’ directors-general under the ministry might be arrested by the anti-graft commission following the details of the financial misappropriation so far revealed to investigators by the contractor.

The ex-minister could not be reached for comments on Sunday. Also, when our correspondent contacted her former media aide, Nneka Ikem, she did not pick her phone calls neither did she respond to an SMS sent to her.

Investigation revealed that the N37.1bn was transferred from the Federal Government’s coffers and sent to 38 different bank accounts domiciled in five legacy commercial banks belonging to or connected with Okwete.

Impeccable sources confirmed to The PUNCH on Sunday that Okwete, who is being held at the EFCC Headquarters, Jabi, Abuja, had been cooperating with investigators.

According to the EFCC officials, the contractor was arrested four days ago.

A source said, “The contractor, Mr Okwete, who was used in laundering the money had been arrested by the commission. He is currently detained in our custody and has been giving investigators more details that have indicted the former Minister, Sadiya and some DGs under the ministry, and they may be brought in anytime soon too.”

Alleged N37bn fraud

Another source noted, “The contractor involved in the N37.bn fraud has been arrested and would spend Christmas in our custody. He has given some names, and the former humanitarian affairs minister and directors-general in the ministry were linked to the fraud.”

The PUNCH reports that the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs currently serves as the parent ministry to eight agencies, including the National Social Investment Office, the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internationally Displaced Persons, among others.

Umar-Farouq was the pioneer Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

She was appointed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2019 as the youngest cabinet member.

Her work with Buhari dates back to his days as the leader and presidential candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change when she was the national treasurer of the party and later the national treasurer of the All Progressives Congress.

Documents obtained by The PUNCH revealed that following receipt of the funds, Okwete transferred N6,746,034,000 to Bureau De Change Operators, withdrew N540 million in cash, purchased luxury cars with N288,348,600 and bought luxury houses in Abuja and Enugu State with N2,195,115,000.

So far, 53 companies had been traced to Okwete, who was also said to have used 47 of the firms to secure Federal Government contracts amounting to N27,423,824,339.86.

He is also linked with 143 bank accounts in 12 commercial banks of which 134 accounts are corporate accounts linked to different companies.

Checks by our correspondent with the Corporate Affairs Commission revealed that Okwete is a director in only 11 of the 53 companies, while the remaining 42 companies’ accounts were linked to his Bank Verification Number as a signatory to the accounts.

The document revealed, “Between 2018 and 2023, the subject (Okwete) received the sum of N37,170,855,753.44 from the coffers of the Federal Government linked to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“The money  was sent to 38 bank accounts domiciled in five legacy commercial banks. The suspect transferred N6,746,034,000 to Bureau De Change Operators, N540mn withdrawn in cash, N288,348,600 used to purchase cars and used N2,195,115,000 to purchase choice properties within Abuja and Enugu State.

“Fifty-three companies were traced to the suspect. He used 47 of the companies to lift Federal Government contracts amounting to N27,423,824,339.86.

‘’Okwete is associated with 143 bank accounts in 12 commercial banks in which 134 of the 143 accounts are corporate accounts linked to different companies.”

The spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale declined comments.

“I can’t speak on that, please,” Oyewale said.

Meanwhile, in 2020, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission said it uncovered N2.67bn meant for the ministry’s school feeding programme in private bank accounts.

The former ICPC Chairman, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed that the commission unravelled N2.67bn in personal accounts, being payment made to some federal colleges for school feeding during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

Other discoveries by the ICPC include 18 buildings, 12 business premises and 25 plots of land.

Owasanoye said under the Open Treasury Portal review carried out between January and August 15, 2020, of the 268 Ministries, Departments and Agendas, 72 had cumulative infractions of N90m.

The former ICPC chairman argued that the money was paid when children were not in school.

Despite requests by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project to Umar-Farouq to publish details and names of the suspects, the former minister failed to reveal their names to date.

Reacting to this, SERAP via its official Facebook handle said: “Following the disclosure by the ICPC that N2.67bn meant for school feeding during the COVID-19 lockdown ended up in private bank accounts, we are calling on the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development of Nigeria, Sadiya Umar Farouq to immediately publish details of those suspected to be responsible, or face legal action.

“If the names are not immediately published, we’ll issue a freedom of information request to ensure that those involved are named and shamed.

“We’ll also pursue appropriate legal actions to hold suspected perpetrators to account, in the public interest.

“Diverting funds meant to feed school children [who are already disproportionately affected by corruption], especially during COVID-19 is a blatant violation of the rights to education, health, and dignity, as well as the government’s own COVID-19 transparency frameworks.

“Corruption in school feeding increases distrust in the government. The Federal Government must ensure transparency and accountability measures are fundamental to all school feeding and other initiatives in the context of COVID-19, to ensure the children receive the support they need.”

(Punch)

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EFCC releases ex-Minister of Power, Agunloye on bail

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has released a former Minister of Power and Steel, and former Minister of State for Defence, Olu Agunloye.

The former minister was earlier arrested and detained over alleged official corruption and forgery to the tune of N6bn in connection with the Mambilla Power Project.

The PUNCH exclusively reports that the anti-graft agency released Agunloye to a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Adeola Adedipe, around 3.30 p.m. on Wednesday.

When contacted over the development, the spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, confirmed the ex-minister’s release on Wednesday.

“Yes, you’re right, Mr. Agunloye has been released by the commission,” Oyewale confirmed.

Meanwhile, The PUNCH had earlier reported that the EFCC had rearrested the ex-minister on December 13, 2023, after getting an arrest warrant following allegations that Agunloye jumped bail.

EFCC sources privy to the development told our correspondent that Agunloye would be arraigned in court in January 2024 on charges of official corruption and forgery to the tune of N6bn.

The PUNCH reports that over a week ago, the EFCC declared Agunloye wanted in connection with an alleged N6bn scam involving the contentious Mambilla hydropower project.

Agunloye was a minister under former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government (1999-2003).

He has since been at the centre of the controversy about the Mambilla project.

He was accused by Obasanjo of illegally awarding the project’s contract without the Federal Executive Council’s consent.

Agunloye has since denied the allegation.

(Punch)

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EFCC calls for legislation against unexplained wealth

Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, has called for legislation against unexplained wealth in Nigeria.

He explained that such a law would help check the criminal activities of treasury looters in the country.

In a statement by the EFCC Spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, on Thursday, the Chairman made the call during the Two- Day International Law Conference with the theme: “Unexplained Wealth in the Global South: Examining the Asset Recovery and Return Trajectory” organized by Christopher University, Mowe Ogun State.

Represented by the EFCC Abuja Zonal Commander, ACE1 Adebayo Adeniyi, the Chairman emphasized that many foreign countries have adopted the Unexplained Wealth Orders, UWOs as a tool for tackling treasury looting and corruption since it came into force in 2018, regretting that Nigeria is yet to promulgate such a law but only relies on the provisions of Section 7 of its Establishment Act to act.

“The issue of unexplained wealth is not a local issue. There are jurisdictional legislations across the world to tackle it. Till date, countries of the world are faced with criminalities emanating from money laundering practices and illicit funds. This circumstance led to the promulgation of Unexplained Wealth Orders, UWOs that came into force in 2018. Several countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Mauritius and African countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean have come up with UWO. Nigeria is yet to come up with a national legislation on it.

“Owing to the absence of legislation on the issue of unexplained wealth, the EFCC continues to rely on provisions of Section 7 of its Establishment Act to handle it.”

The Chairman noted that unexplained wealth can only be beneficial to the state if they are forfeited even as he mentioned that since inception, the EFCC has secured sizable assets from fraudsters which include, houses, vehicles, barges, jewellery, money, furniture items, properties, among others.

“Procedures for asset forfeiture usually involve the prosecution of the suspected fraudster. Assets may be forfeited on an interim basis and may also be forfeited permanently, depending on the position of the law and the court. However, whether interim forfeiture or permanent forfeiture, what is important is for every ill-gotten wealth to be recovered and kept with the government.” He added.

He urged the public to be forthcoming with information about suspicious assets in their various communities, as the Commission would work better only if intelligence and information were readily available.

Olukoyede also identified some delays in asset recovery in Nigeria including the technicality of prosecution of looted assets that sometimes require publication in major newspapers as well as recovery of stolen funds stashed in foreign jurisdictions.

“Recovery of stolen funds stashed in foreign jurisdictions is more complex. Institutions of state Institutions of state are usually involved in the recovery of such funds and this takes far more time and effort. The return trajectory involved in this may even take years and this can be frustrating to anti-corruption agencies or government institutions involved in the recovery. Nigeria is having such instances in the recovery of looted funds by many government officials.” He said.

(Daily Post)

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EFCC operatives forced me to agree to refund N1bn – Ex-BPE DG Dikki

Former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Benjamin Dikki, told an FCT High Court on Tuesday that EFCC operatives forced him to make a commitment to refund N1 billion.

Dikki is being prosecuted by EFCC, alongside his company, Kebna Studio and Communications Limited, before Justice Yusuf Halilu.

He was dragged to court on a four-count charge bordering on receiving a bribe and abuse of office.

He was alleged to have received N1 billion bribe from Bestworth Insurance Brokers, for his role in facilitating the approval of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

The defendants were alleged to have committed the offence, which EFCC stated, was contrary to Section 17(1)(a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, and punishable under the same act, between Jan. and Feb. 2015, when he was serving as BPE DG.

Dikki told the court that he was informed on Aug. 29, 2016, by an EFCC operative from Zuru that the commission had been looking for him and had gone to arrest his wife and son.

He said this surprised him because he did not receive any invitations from the anti-graft agency.

“I agreed to appear at the EFCC office on Sept. 1, 2016. On arrival at the commission, I was taken to the team leader, one Bashir.

“Bashir told me that the commission had finished its investigation and that there was nothing to say, other than to write a statement that I would refund the N1 billion paid into the account of Kebna Studio.

“I told him I that cannot make such a commitment and he said I was wasting their time,” he told the court.

He said that in spite of the fact that he told the officer that he could not make such a commitment, the operatives insisted and later took him to the commission’s cell. He added that he was detained in the cell from 6 pm to 7:40 pm.

Dikki said he was neither with his lawyer, Ali Suberu when he was made to write his statements nor advised to get any lawyer before writing the statements.

He further told the court that: “On Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, Bashir came into the cell and told me that I was the one detaining myself because I was blowing long grammar and that once I commit to refund, I would be released.”

He said for the sake of his freedom, he made arrangements for a N50 million payment to be made to EFCC, adding that the money came late on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, and it was after that that he was released the following day.

Under cross-examination by EFCC counsel Chris Mshellia, Dikki told the court that he was not arrested by the EFCC.

According to him, he wrote statements after being cautioned that anything he wrote would be used against him in court.

“I had no option but to write the statements. The operatives tried to dictate what I should write in my statement. I was harassed and tortured, psychologically by the operatives,” he said.

After his testimony, Justice Halilu adjourned until Jan. 16, 2024, for adoption of processes in the trial-within-trial.

(Daily Post)

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EFCC arrests 14 suspected vote buyers, intercepts N11m in Imo, Bayelsa, Kogi

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Saturday night, disclosed that its operatives on off-season election have arrested 14 suspected vote buyers in Otueke, Adawari playgrounds in Bayelsa State and at various polling units in Imo and Kogi States.

According to the commission in a statement on its official X-account, they were arrested on Saturday, in intelligence-driven operations that commenced several days before the ongoing governorship elections in the three states.

“Also, a total sum of N11,040,000 (Eleven Million, Forty Thousand Naira only) comprising N9,310,000 (Nine Million, Three Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira) intercepted from suspected vote buyers and sellers in Bayelsa and N1,730,000 (One Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty Thousand Naira) intercepted from electoral fraud suspects across Imo State, were also recovered from them.

“Also, two vehicles were intercepted from the suspects.

“They will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded,” the statement added.

(Tribune)

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11 OAU students face fraud trial, 58 others released as varsity meets EFCC

The management of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife said it was meeting the officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission following the arrest of 69 suspected Internet fraudsters, many of whom are students of the university.

Fifty eight of the students were later released late Wednesday.

Officials of the EFCC in a midnight raid stormed hostels outside the OAU campus, including Fine Touch and Superb hostels in the Oduduwa Estate, Ile-Ife, broke into rooms, and arrested the students.

The Students’ Union President, Akinremi Ojo, said on Wednesday morning the union had details of “72 students picked up from the hostel with phones and cars taken away.” The president demanded the release of the students while condemning the approach of the arrests.

A former union official, Joy Abiola, told our correspondent that the students were beaten during the arrests.

Abiola told PUNCH Metro that, “The EFCC officials came between 1:40 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.,” saying, “Only students stay in those hostels. How can you arrest people for owning iPhones, laptops, and cars? Some of the students are only tech experts.”

In a video shared with our correspondent by one of the students, several young persons said to be students of the hostel were seen being marched into a white Hummer Bus with some security officials hitting them and ordering them to move and enter quickly.

In another video, about six vehicles were seen alongside the white Hummer Bus as they left Ile-Ife for the EFCC zonal office in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Meanwhile, the EFCC in a statement on its verified Facebook page hours later confirmed that it arrested 69 suspects in Ile-Ife. The anti-graft agency listed the names of the suspects but was silent on their identity as students.

“They were arrested on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at the Oduduwa Estate area of Ile-Ife, Osun State, following actionable intelligence on their suspected involvement in fraudulent Internet-related activities. Credible intelligence linked Oduduwa Estate with activities of suspected internet fraudsters,” the statement said.

The agency disclosed further that, “The suspects have made useful statements to the EFCC and will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”

Hours after the arrests, several OAU students led by union officers mobilised from Ile-Ife to the EFCC office in Ibadan to demand the release of their colleagues. They were seen protesting as the armed security operatives barricaded the EFCC premises.

“We’re here until they release the students,” the PRO of the Students’ Union, Elijah Omisore, told PUNCH Metro in a telephone interview.

The Osun Joint Campus Committee arm of the National Association of Nigerian Students in a statement also condemned the arrest of students.

“Without any justification or evidence, they invaded the residence of the OAU students and transported them (the students) to Ibadan. We condemn this action in the strongest possible terms,” the spokesperson for the student body, Adedapo Emmanuel, said in a statement.

While speaking with our correspondent on Wednesday evening, the Public Relations Officer of the university, Abiodun Olarewaju, said, “we (the management) are currently at the EFCC office in Ibadan to meet the officials.”

He later confirmed that “58 of the students were released to us. The remaining 11 of them have cases to answer.”

(Punch)

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EFCC bans officials from conducting sting operations at night

The chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede, has directed that sting operations at night be stopped across all the commands of the commission.

This is in line with the newly reviewed procedures on arrest and bail of suspects.

He gave the directive in Abuja on Wednesday in reaction to the arrest of 69 suspected internet fraudsters by operatives of the Ibadan Zonal of the Commission in Ile-Ife, Osun State. Already, many of the suspects duly profiled by the command have been released, while profiling suspects yet unreleased will be completed without further delay.

The commission said it wished to assure the public that it would not relent in its adherence to the rule of law in the exercise of its mandate.

(Daily Post)

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EFCC arrests over 70 OAU students in midnight raid 

Over 70 students of Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife Osun State were reportedly arrested by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in a midnight raid on hostels outside the campus.

Multiple sources in Ile-Ife confirmed to our correspondent on Wednesday morning that the officials, around 2 a.m., stormed the Fine Touch and Superb hostels in Oduduwa Estate, Ile-Ife, broke into rooms, and arrested the students.

Reasons for the arrest have not been confirmed as of press time, but the Students’ Union President, Abass Ojo, said the union had details of “72 students picked up from the hostel with phones and cars taken away.”

A former union official, Joy Abiola, told our correspondent that the students were beaten.

“The EFCC officials came between 1:40 a.m and 4:00 a.m. Only students stay in those hostels,” Joy said, adding, “How can you arrest people for owning iPhones, laptops, and cars?”

Another student, identified simply as Ewatee, said, “Female students were among those picked up. Even some fresh students who just went to greet their senior colleagues were arrested. The approach is wrong.”

In a video shared with our correspondent, taken by one of the students, several young persons said to be students of the hostel were seen being marched into a white Hummer Bus with some security officials hitting them and ordering them to move and enter quickly.

In another video, about six vehicles were seen alongside the white Hummer Bus on the move. Students said the officials were leaving the Ile-Ife area and heading to Ibadan.

Contacted, the head of Public Affairs Department of the EFCC, Ibadan Zonal Command, Olumide Egbodofo, said an update would be given on the incident.

“A press statement will be released regarding that soon,” the spokesperson added.

Also, the phone line of the university’s spokesperson, Abiodun Olarewaju, was unreachable as of press time.

(Punch)

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Anti-graft war should start from N’Assembly – EFCC chair

The Senate, on Wednesday, screened and confirmed the nomination of Ola Olukoyede as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

While fielding questions from the senators during his screening, Olukoyode told the lawmakers to ensure that the fight against corruption begins in the National Assembly.

He declared that he was ready to work no matter whose ox was gored.

 “Let the fight against corruption begin from this hallowed chamber.

“If you are fighting corruption, you become the enemy of everybody,” he said.

Olukoyede said the time had come for all anti-corruption agencies to focus more on prevention rather than enforcement.

He said,” Enforcement is a very strong tool in our hands and we are going to apply it very seriously.

“Without downplaying the importance of enforcement, there is what we call a transactional credit system. If we continue to allow Nigerians to buy houses, cars and other luxurious properties by cash, because we don’t have an effective credit system, one thousand anti-corruption agencies will not do us any good and that is the reality.

“We must create an atmosphere to make sure that people have choices. If I don’t steal money, can I afford to train my children in school with good standards? If I don’t steal money, can I buy a car after I have worked for five years? If I don’t steal money, can I put a three-room bungalow in place after I have worked for 20 years?

“An average Nigerian does not own a home, when he has the opportunity, he would steal. Even if he does not have the opportunity he would create one.”

The new EFCC chairman also called on the judiciary to place substantive justice above technicalities when dealing with corruption cases.

“We must encourage our criminal justice system to adjudicate in such a way that it will not drag for a very long time.

“Prosecution should not be allowed to last for a maximum of five years from the court of first instance to the Supreme Court. The Senate can work on that very seriously. If we make the administration of the criminal justice system really work, you will see the great work the anti-corruption agencies are doing,” Olukoyede added.

He said there was a connection between the low standard of living in the country and the rise of corruption.

“The savings of an average civil servant in Nigeria all through his service years cannot build the type of houses they are building and cars they are riding.

“The problem we have is just like the proverbial monkey that was locked up in a cage with a bunch of ripe bananas. The owner stood outside with a cane. The monkey would either eat the bananas, get beaten and be alive, or allow the bananas to get rotten and die of hunger,” he stated.

He added, “I will do more in the areas of blocking the leakages. We spend more money fighting corruption when we could have spent less to prevent it.”

The EFCC chairman noted that Nigeria lost a total of N2.9tn to procurement fraud in three years.

According to him, he did a survey between 2018 and 2020 on 50 entities in Nigeria; both human and corporate entities.

Olukoyede narrated, “I picked just one scheme, one species of fraud, which is called contract and procurement fraud. I discovered that within the three years, Nigeria lost N2.9tn.

“When I put my figures together, I discovered that if the country had prevented the money from being stolen, it would have given us 1,000 kilometres of road, it would have built close to 200 standard tertiary institutions; it would have also educated about 6,000 children from primary to tertiary levels at N16m per child.

“It would have also delivered more than 20,000 units of three-bedroom houses across the country. It would have given us a world-class teaching hospital in each of the 36 states of the country and the federal capital territory.”

Meanwhile, the Senate erupted in laughter when the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, told Olukoyede not to use him as an example in the anti-corruption fight.

Olukoyede had while speaking said, “If we are investigating the Senate President for example…”

But Akpabio said, “I’m very glad that the nominee wants to use the Senate President as an example. But Mr nominee, leave the Senate President for now, look at this direction (pointing at the seats of opposition lawmakers).”

Apart from Olukoyede, the Senate also confirmed Muhammad Hammajoda as the Secretary of the EFCC.

Similarly, the Senate also confirmed Halima Shehu as the National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme.

(Punch)

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