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N279m scam: EFCC grills agency’s chief, others

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Detectives have uncovered the alleged award of N279,675,796 phony contracts at a Federal Government agency.

Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency (NIHSA) Director-General Moses Oluwatoyin Beckley and seven others have been interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The others are the Deputy Director (Account), Mrs. Hauwa Ibrahim; Mary Abioye (Central Processing Officer); Ajayi F. Alaba (Asst. Director, Head, Internal Auditor); Jonathan Mbachi (Asst. Chief Executive Officer Accounts); Banwo Oladele Oluwale (Chief Accountant); Joseph Awe Olufemi (Head, Salary); and David Okon Williams (Chief Executive Officer, Accounts).

Also interrogated is the owner of Full Range Bureau de Change into whose account N130m was allegedly paid.

Detectives have recovered about N135, 567,047 out of the N279.6million.

A source, who was privy to the investigation, gave the details of how the fraud was allegedly perpetrated by a top official and the staff of the accounts department.

The source said: “In the course of investigation, various sums of money meant for capital projects were observed to have been diverted by various staff of the Accounts Department as well as the Director General of the agency, using their personl accounts or their private companies.

“They hid under the guise of paying for projects/contracts that were either non-existing or never executed.  About N135, 567,047 has been recovered and registered as exhibit.

“A summary of the amounts linked to each suspect and duly admitted by the suspects in their cautionary statements are as follows:

  • Moses Beckley (DG NIHSA) – N40,000,000.00
  • Hauwa Ibrahim (Deputy Director Accounts) – N49,112,502.00
  • Mary Abioye (Central Processing Officer) – N47,546,000.00
  • Ajayi F. Alaba (Asst. Director, Head, internal Auditor) – N2,000,000.00
  • Jonathan Mbachi (Asst. Chief Executive Officer Accounts) – N305,000.00
  • Banwo Oladele Oluwale (Chief Accountant) – N612,047.00
  • Joseph Awe Olufemi (Head, Salary) – N7,759,400.00
  • David Okon Williams (Chief Executive Officer Accounts) – N2,340,847.00

The eight suspects may face trial.

“From the investigation carried out so far, a case of conspiracy, abuse of office and diversion of public funds can be established against the suspects,” the source said, adding:

“We are going to arraign all the suspects very soon after the completion of our investigation.”

Another source said the EFCC acted on an anonymous petition which revealed the rot in the agency. The petitioners alleged conspiracy, abuse of office and diversion of public funds.

Said the source: “The petitioner alleged that the Director-General of the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency (NIHSA), Mr. Moses Oluwatoyin Beckley conspired with the Deputy Director, Account Mrs. Hauwa Ibrahim  and some other staff of the Account Department and diverted large amount of money meant for the agency’s 2016 budget for their personal use.

“Upon receipt of the petition, the Director of Administration and Finance of the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency was invited and interviewed. The Chairman of the staff union of the agency was also invited and interviewed.

“Staff of the account department were interviewed and their various statements recorded under word of caution.

“Voluntary statements of some staff of the agencies involved for 2015 and 2016 were obtained from various banks and analysed.

“Information on various companies linked to the suspects were also obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

“A bureau de change owner, Full Range Bureau de Change whose account the sum of N130m was paid into was interrogated.”

The Director General of the agency, Mr. Moses Oluwatoyin Beckley, was interrogated and released on bail.

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$200m Scandal: Reps declines to reinstate contract of Atiku’s Intels

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The House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected the recommendation of its committee that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) reinstates its contract with Intels, a logistics maritime operator.

The House said the company which reportedly made infractions on the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the federal government, disrespected the legislature by shunning the probe instituted in 2017.

Recall that the House of Representatives had in October 2017 set up an ad-hoc committee with a mandate to investigate the process that led to the termination of the contract between NPA and Intels, a company substantially owned by Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the impending general elections.

The committee chaired by the Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Mr. Pally Iriase (APC, Edo) had laid the report of its investigations on the 12th December 2018.

During consideration of the report today, it was found out that the committee, among others, recommended that “the notice of termination of contract agreement should be formally withdrawn since Intels Nigeria Limited have complied with the Federal Government Policy on Treasury Single Account (TSA).”

Other recommendations include: “that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and INTELS Nigeria Limited should sign the new Standard Operating Procedure in the Supplemental Agreement, which should be in the best interest of Nigeria;

“That a schedule for the repayment plan for the amortization policy should be proposed and signed by both parties within one month upon the adoption of this recommendation;

“That NPA should henceforth adhere strictly to the provisions of the Nigerian Ports Authority Act in the administration and management of its operations; and

“That the Ad-lzoc Committee and the Committee on Legislative Compliance should ensure strict implementation of the above recommendations.”

But speaking against the report, Mr. John Dyegh (APC, Benue) said Intels is owing the federal government over $200million and that executives of the company also failed to appear at the hearing. He therefore called for the rejection of the report.

He said: “Intel is owing the federal government $200million and we have not seen any evidence that they have paid the money, according to the report, everyone came for the public hearing, except Intels.

“You don’t have respect for the House, for the committee, but you want benefit from the House, I urge the House to reject this generous report.”

Also opposing the report, Sodiq Ibrahim (APC, Adamawa) said “the contract was terminated on the principle of not remitting $200million, and the committee is recommending that Nigeria should go back into agreement with them?

“I think the House should step down the report, and rework it, a pro Intel report.”

In his reaction to the contributions on the report, Mr. Iriase agreed that the report should be reworked adding that the House committee with legislative oversight over NPA should join his panel to conduct a holistic investigation into the relationship between NPA and Intels.

Recall that when the motion on the contract termination was moved in 2017 the debate was politicized as some PDP members viewed it as a political attack on Atiku. During today’s proceedings however the report was rejected unanimously.

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2019 elections: Danjuma raises alarm over plots to rig polls

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A former  Minister of Defence  Lt Gen Theophilus Danjuma on Tuesday raised the alarm over an alleged plot to rig next month’s general elections.

Danjuma made the allegation while inaugurating a medical laboratory at the Rufkatu Danjuma Maternity Hospital in his Takum hometown in  Taraba State.

The former Chief of Army Staff also described democracy in the country as primitive.

He claimed there was a plan to cause unrest that would make some states ungovernable in order to manipulate the elections.

Danjuma warned the people of Taraba to protect their votes to prevent electoral fraud.

The retired general said, “We must work hard for peace in addition to just registering and obtaining our Permanent Voter Cards.

“There is no need to fight one another because they will use the police and soldiers to destabilise us and rig the elections.

“It is in our best interest to ensure there is peace. Those behind this plot know that they will not win elections if there is peace. I want to call on you not to sell your votes because you will be selling your birthright if you do so.”

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Interior Minister, Dambazau blasts ex-IGP Idris

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Minister of Interior Lt-Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau

The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau,  said the Nigeria Police Force did not get any major project from the Federal Government in the past three years because the immediate past Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, did not relate well with his ministry.

He stated that the ministry had a cordial relationship with former IG Solomon Arase, but the situation changed when Idris took over.

The minister, who revealed this when the acting IG Mohammed Adamu paid him a courtesy call at his office in Abuja on Tuesday, commended the police boss for taking the right step to mend the strained relationship.

“I want to first congratulate you on this position you are elevated to and add my prayers that God grants you success. I also want to appreciate your coming here on a courtesy visit, recognising the significance of the Ministry of Interior in terms of its supervisory mandate to the police and other agencies including its mandate in terms of internal security and public safety,” the minister said.

“We are happy that you took this step because since early 2016, shortly after I came in as Minister in November 2015, I had a very cordial relationship with the then IGP, Solomon Arase, but when Arase left, there was the severance of relations between the police and the Ministry of Interior.

“It was not completely though because most of our dealings in terms of internal security and public safety were with the DIG Operations and because we must do everything possible to ensure that we not only carry our supervisory mandate in terms of policy but also to ensure that police as an institution does not suffer,” he noted.

Speaking further, the minister said: “We are indeed glad that you came in with an absolutely different idea regarding this relationship. Throughout three years, we have presented more than 25 memoranda to FEC that have to do with policies concerning the country, but none of them involved the police except few that came from Police Academy, Wudil.

“So, this is the kind of thing that we must be able to avoid because you need the parent ministry to represent you at the FEC. That related with us here. We need to work together with the kind of security challenges we are experiencing in this country as you mentioned. I will appreciate the idea and concept of community policing. There are so many things in terms of policy you can drive from here.

“Ours stop at making policies because the implementation is absolutely yours. We will not interfere in that area at all. We have capable and experienced hands in the ministry that can make lots of inputs, particularly in this democratic environment that you need this process. I want to reassure that this ministry will give you all the support you need to succeed.

“We will not pretend about it; there are security challenges in the country, but they must be tackled and we must put heads together to ensure we succeed in providing for Nigerians, the security they deserve. We do hope that this is just the beginning of our working together to ensure that you succeed,” he promised.

Speaking earlier, the acting IGP pleaded for forgiveness, promising that, having retraced their steps, they would not want to be left out of the activities of the ministry.

“It is really a privilege to be received today. Since my appointment as the new acting IGP, my thought was to first visit the Ministry of Interior which is the parent ministry where Nigeria Police belongs. I have not gone anywhere on courtesy call except this one and now that I have been here; I am now free to go to other places.

“We are aware of the fact that most of the policy issues concerning police operation come from the Ministry of Interior. We don’t want to be left out. We want to be deeply involved in the activities of the ministry. We want the minister to know that we are 100 per cent ready to participate in every activity of the ministry that involves security.

“We do have challenges involving security within the country. They are challenges that can be surmounted and we can easily overcome them with the full support of the parent ministry. If we were not participating in the past the way we should, we have now retraced our steps to return and do the needful for the benefit of the country and benefit of everybody. That is the reason for our coming,” he said.

In his entourage included seven deputy inspectors generals of police (DIGs) and an assistant inspector general of police among others.

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