EFCC ARRESTS 2 DIRECTORS OF S.O.N. OVER N1.3BIL FRAUD

EFCC arrests two SON directors for alleged N1.3bn fraud

EFCC OFFICERS

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested two directors of the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) over alleged N1.3billion in the agency.

More staff of the organization might be questioned in the next few days.

Also, a prosecution witness has opened up on how $752,000 (about N229million) was deposited in the VISA Gold account of a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Badeh.

The witness said the huge cash was lodged by Badeh’s aide-de-camp (ADC) and orderly.

But the arrest of two directors of the SON was a major breakthrough for the anti-graft agency.

A reliable source said: “The two directors have been arrested and questioned for their alleged role in a N1.3billion fraud scandal rocking the agency.

“One of the directors is currently in the custody of the anti-graft agency, while the other, who is an assistant director, was arrested a few weeks ago and released on administrative bail after making a statement before a team of detectives.

“The arrest of the directors was pursuant to the investigation into a petition received by the agency from a body known as Peculiar Systems Services dated February 24, 2016.

“The body alleged gross financial mismanagement and embezzlement of public funds to the tune of N200million in the SON.

“ But in the course of the investigation, EFCC operatives found that more than N1.3billion was siphoned from the coffers of the SON by the affected directors and their collaborators in bogus payments.

“What we are doing now is profiling the accounts of the affected staff to determine their levels of involvement. We are determined to bring all those directly involved n the fraud to book”.

Meanwhile, a  prosecution witness, Fatima Daku, has told a Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja, that the various sums of money which she credited into the “Visa Gold account” of a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, were brought to the bank by Badeh’s ADC and orderly.

According to a statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, Fatima Daku made the revelations while being led in evidence by prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).

Badeh is standing trial before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court.

He is being prosecuted by the EFCC along with his company, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited.

He is accused of abusing his office by using the dollar equivalent of the sum of N1.4billion removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, to purchase properties in choice areas of Abuja between January and December, 2013.

It is an offence that contravenes Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

But Daku told the trial judge that she opened the account for Badeh between 2012 and 2013 and was subsequently credited with about $752,000. The account, according to her, could not be operated over the counter except in case of cash deposits.

She confirmed to the the court that Badeh’s ADC, Tom Gani, and his orderly, whose name she didn’t know, were the ones that used to bring the dollar cash to her at the bank for onward payment into Badeh’s account.

She said: “I can’t remember the name of the orderly, but I always handed over the customer’s copy of the deposit slip to them and kept that of the bank.

“Upon a request from the EFCC in May, indicating that Badeh was under investigation, the Internal Audit of the bank furnished the anti-graft agency with the requested documents relating to the account, including certificate of identification, vouchers, statement of account and other relevant documents.

The documents were subsequently admitted in evidence as G1 – G14.

On his part, the defence counsel, Akin Olujinmi (SAN), who took time to go through the various tellers in the exhibits, submitted that the name of Badeh was not on the tellers.

He said instead the tellers had the name of Daku on them, with the exception of one or two, which had “self” written at the space for depositor’s name.

Taking her up on the tellers, Olujinmi alluded to the fact that “self” implied the person who was filling the teller, which in the instance was the banker.

He argued that the said cash deposits could not be directly linked to Badeh.

Daku, under re-examination by Jacobs, was asked to make clarification on why she put her name on some of the tellers and “self” on others.

The question was objected to by Olujinmi who argued that “re-examination was not meant to be an opportunity for the prosecution to recoup.”

Quoting from Section 215 of the Evidence Act, Jacobs, however, insisted that the question was in order, “as long as it is to enable the witness make clarifications to comments made during cross-examination.”

Justice Abang, after listening to both arguments, overruled Olujinmi’s objection, ruling that a witness under re-examination, can be allowed to make clarification about statements made earlier, noting that the account name was Alex Badeh, though Daku’s name was on some of the tellers, and “self” was on others.

Daku, however, explained that self meant owner of the bank account, adding that:  “As relationship manager, I filled in the teller of June 13, 2013 for the payment of the $50,000 into the account, and credited it with the money, but the two officers were the ones that brought the money.”

She explained further that though several of the tellers had her name, Badeh never came personally to make the deposits.

“The money did not belong to me, and they were brought to the bank by the two officers”, she submitted.

Justice Abang, adjourned the matter to November 22, 2016 for “continuation of hearing of case of prosecution.”