EFCC indicts ex-NEMA boss, 6 directors in N2.5bn fraud

EFCC indicts ex-NEMA boss, 6 directors in N2.5bn fraud

- An EFCC source confirmed that the sum total of funds unaccounted for is around N2.5bn

- The EFCC has recommended suspension of the six directors while it carries out its probe of the agency

- The agency also recommended criminal trial for those found wanting after it completes its investigation

- The current NEMA Board under Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is expected to meet on Tuesday, April 3 to look into the anti-corruption agency’s report on the alleged corrupt practices

- However, NEMA staff who spoke on the matter said the actions of the EFCC was tantamount to witch-hunt

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has indicted Sani Sidi Mohammed, a former director-general of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in a N2.5bn fraud alongside six other directors.

The Nation reports that the NEMA board, which is constitutionally headed by the vice president of the federal republic of Nigeria, was under the supervision of erstwhile holder of the position Namadi Sambo, when the fraud occurred.

Sambo met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, a few days ago. It was not clear at the weekend if the meeting was in connection with the March 1 report of the EFCC on NEMA, which has been sent to the government.

The other directors indicted alongside ex-DG Sidi are Director of Finance and Accounts Akinbola Hakeem Gbolahan; Ag. Director, Special Duties, Mr. Umesi Emenike; Director, Risk Reduction, Mallam Alhassan Nuhu; Pilot in-charge Air Ambulance and Aviation Unit, Mr. Mamman Ali Ibrahim; the Chief Maintenance Officer Mr. Ganiyu Yunusa Deji; and Director of Welfare Mr. Kanar Mohammed.

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The Nation quotes the report as saying: “From the investigation carried out so far, officials could not account for funds transferred from NEMA account to their personal accounts.

“Moreover, the funds were being withdrawn in cash and, in some cases, transferred to family members. Also, it was discovered that some of these funds were placed in fixed deposit; both the principal and the interest were withdrawn in cash by the depositor.

“Furthermore, the issue of companies incorporated by the officials of NEMA who are public servants is against the Public Service Rules. This is more so as the companies are active and still receiving funds, in some cases from NEMA.

“There were frivolous emoluments claims that were wrongly processed by directors and some officials of the agency.

”Against this background, EFCC is of the opinion that placing the officials involved under suspension will assist the successful completion of our investigation. This is the only way the commission can have unfettered access to all the necessary documents that will aid our investigation. It is therefore recommended that the officials who are already indicted in the case be placed on suspension pending the conclusion of the investigation.

“The aspect of fake IDP camps and relief materials are still being investigated. Investigation is still on-going and further developments will be communicated.”

The report added: “The brief facts of the case as contained in the petition alleged that former Director-General Sani Sidi while in office misappropriated public funds and perpetrated corrupt acts in NEMA. It further alleged that he conspired with some officers within the Agency, especially in the Department of Finance and Accounts, that shortchanged the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to the tune of over N354,900, 105.24.”

Part of the report states: “From the investigation so far conducted, the ex-DG maintains 20 different accounts in various banks; he is the promoter of Major Enterprises Ltd and Khayas Alliance Farms Ltd; his Standard Chartered Bank US dollar account recorded the following cash deposits ($ 164,000) and (£58,800) which were flagged as suspicious transaction.

“The Director of Finance and Accounts, Gbolahan is the owner and promoter of the company, Ridges and Tillages Limited. He maintains multiple accounts with which he receives suspicious cash transfers totalling N27, 650, 00.”

On Acting Director, Special Duties, Umesi Emenike the EFCC said: “Prior to his appointment as the Ag. Director of Special Duties, he was Zonal Coordinator of the South-South and the Deputy-Director Training.

“While he was Zonal Coordinator of the South-South, Zonal Office, he coordinated the affairs of Six (6) States Emergency Management Agencies namely: Cross River, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Delta and Bayelsa.

“The fund meant for programmes and maintenance of the Zone was paid into the suspect’s personal accounts instead of the Zonal office’s accounts. These funds were withdrawn in cash, transfers and through ATM machines. There is no evidence to show that these funds were utilised for the benefits of NEMA.

“Patrick Ewama, who was the Zonal Accountant of the suspect made several cash lodgments and withdrawals from the accounts of the suspect.

“The suspect maintains 14 accounts in various banks and cash lodgments and transfers were made into the accounts from both NEMA and other sources, out of which about N238million which was received from NEMA into the suspects’ account for activities of NEMA, was placed on fixed deposit and both the principal and interest were utilised by the suspect.

The EFCC also asked Director, Risk Reduction in NEMA, Alhassan Nuhu to account for the N15million he transferred into the account of the Director of Finance.

The EFCC said: “The suspect (Nuhu) maintains five accounts in various banks. In one of his accounts, it was discovered that N15 million was received from NEMA and later transferred into the account of another director.

“The suspect and the DFA could not give satisfactory account on all the funds deposited into the suspect’s account from NEMA. He moved NEMA funds into his company account, Dambo Farms Limited.

Concerning NEMA Pilot in-charge of Air Ambulance and Aviation Unit, Mr. Mamman Ali Ibrahim, the EFCC alleged that although he was employed by the agency to set up an Air Ambulance Unit and Helicopter emergency services in 2014, he commercialised the unit.

The report said: “The Air Ambulance Unit was established under the Nigeria Civil Aviation to embark on evacuation of critical and noncritical missions. The suspect’s letter of employment clearly indicates his functions and entitlements as a flight captain.

“He commercialised both the air ambulance and the helicopter, claiming that the directive to commercialise the flight came from the office of the Vice-President and the Accountant-General of the Federation.

“A total of N285 million was realised from the commercialisation of the aircraft, N63 million was paid to the AGF while N11 million was paid to NEMA and the balance is yet to be accounted for.

“A total of N45 million was paid into Aerocare West Africa Limited, a company belonging to the suspect, by NEMA and the suspect in turn transferred it to family members.

“Though he mentioned some members of his crew as beneficiaries of the funds, the account of the former DG, Sani Sidi, witnessed so much inflow of foreign exchange believed to have been derived from the commercialization of the air ambulance since all transactions appeared to be in cash.”

An EFCC source said: “The amount in question is over N2.5billion. We have interrogated all the affected suspects and they have made useful statements. We have more to unearth but we cannot achieve much because the affected directors are in charge of vital documents.

“So far, we have recommended that these government officials be suspended pending the conclusion of a comprehensive investigation.”

But NEMA has decried the allegations.

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A source at the agency said all the allegations amounted to a plot to witch-hunt some members of the management staff and implicate the former DG.

The source said: “The former DG, Sani Sidi Mohammed, did a good job in disaster management which the present management has not been able to match. They are just desperate to deal with him for committing no fraud.

“The ex-DG served the nation selflessly and responded to major disasters with efficiency, especially attacks by Boko Haram insurgents. The records are there. He also got so many international awards for his performance.

”All our emergency vehicles and air ambulance services have been grounded since this administration came on board. They want to use the probe by the EFCC to cover up their lapses.

“The EFCC should also interact with our union leaders to know the exact situation in NEMA.”

Another NEMA source said: “I think the new board has its own agenda for our agency. The workers are watching and we will respond appropriately. Most of these directors are innocent of the allegations against them.”

This report comes just as Legit.ng reported that the federal government on Sunday, April 1, released more names of people who have allegedly looted the nation’s treasury.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture who released the list claimed that those complaining that the list was too short did not understand that it was strategically released as a teaser, Channels TV reports.

Releasing the fresh list of alleged looters, in a statement issued in Lagos, the minister also said those complaining that the list was too short apparently did not understand that it was strategically released as a teaser.

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Source: Legit.ng

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