A report by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari has linked Senate President Bukola Saraki and some of his aides to the diversion of about N19bn from the N522bn Paris Club refund.
The Punch reports that the report also indicted one Robert Mbonu of Melrose General Services Limited, a former Managing Director of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, the commercial bank owned by Saraki’s family. According to the report, also under investigation is the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the relationship manager to Saraki in Access Bank Kathleen Erhimu.
Also under probe are Saraki’s aides 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 where his aforementioned aides were also present. After the meeting, N3.5bn was lodged in Melrose General Services Company account number 0005892453 domiciled in Access Bank from the Nigeria Governors Forum on December 14, 2016. 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. From this amount, Amobi and Makanjuola made cash withdrawals ranging from N5m to N10m.
“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 read in part. It then concluded 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.
Special adviser to Saraki on media and publicity Yusuph Olaniyonu said he would not react except he saw 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. EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren confirmed that investigations were ongoing into the Paris Club scam but said he did not know the specifics of the probe. “I can only confirm that there are investigations but I don’t have details,” he said. NAIJ.com recalls that initially denied indicting Saraki, saying the matter was still under investigation. In a statement released on Monday, February 13, the EFCC said not only was the story against Saraki and the governors untrue, also false were allegations that officials of the agency were trying to cover up the indictments.
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