Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, has given details of how two army officers allegedly colluded with two employees of the United Bank for Africa Plc to divert the sum of N339m from the account of the Military Pensions Board.
Magu, in a letter dated May 23, 2017 and addressed to the Chief of Defence Staff, said the suspects, who were later charged with fraud offences on May 31, 2017, allegedly opened 33 accounts with UBA into which the MPB’s funds were diverted.
The acting EFCC Chairman said in his letter with reference number EFCC/EC/CDS/66/16 that the total sum of N339,374,478.58 was withdrawn from the MPB account across the counter or transferred to other accounts in the bank.
The two military officers accused in all the four counts filed before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja are a cashier with the MPB, Wing Commander Ishaka Yakubu; and an Assistant Director, Computer, with the MPB, Lieutenant Commander Akinbamidele Odunsi.
The two bankers named as defendants in two out of the four counts are a Relationship Manager with UBA, Kuforodua (Wuse Zone 2) branch, Abuja, Mrs Abidemi Kolade, and the Manager of the branch, Mrs Violet Ogoegbunam.
Giving the Chief of Defence Staff an update on the progress of the investigation on the case, prior to the filing of the charges, Magu said the bankers compromised the ‘Know Your Customer’ requirements in collusion with military officers in the opening of the 33 accounts used in diverting the MPB’s funds.
He stated, “Investigation discovered that fraudulent accounts were opened by the Business Manager, Mrs Violet Ofoegbunam, and relationship manager, Mrs Kolade Aderemi Abidemi, thereby compromising the ‘Know Your Customer’ requirements with the connivance of the two military officers.
“Thirty-three accounts were identified to have fraudulently received payments to the tune of N339,374,478.58 from Military Pensions Board between April and June 2016.”
The acting EFCC boss stated that the bankers and their spouses were also among the beneficiaries of the alleged fraud.
He stated that UBA had discovered the alleged scam after the bank’s team of auditors detected ‘some suspicious movement of funds from the accounts of supposed next of kins of deceased soldiers and officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Magu noted that all the 33 accounts into which the money was diverted had been frozen.
He said out of the stolen N339m, the sum of N314m had been recovered and kept in the EFCC Recovery Account.
He also said effort to recover the balance of N25m was in progress.