Traces N582m in banks within 27 days
Alleges banks in many questionable transactions
A private firm, Panic Alert Security Systems, PASS earlier engaged by the federal government to recover assets trapped in financial institutions in the country, said it has traced N582, 329, 623.55 (over $1 billion) within 27 days of its engagement early this year.
Chief Executive of PASS, Dr. George Uboh, while addressing journalists in Abuja said the amounts were those not transferred to the Treasury Single Account, TSA, introduced by the government as at March 4.
According to him, some of the funds were stashed in a Keystone Bank while the rest were “part of the funds I traced were funds stolen by EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) hidden at Access Bank as alleged last year.”
Speaking against the backdrop of his recent conviction and sentence to three years imprisonment by Justice S. E. Aladetoyinbo of the Federal Capital Territory High Court Abuja, for his role in converting the property of the defunct Police Equipment Foundation, PEF to his use, Uboh said he was never a fraudster as being peddled.
The letter of introduction signed by the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN and dated February 17, 2016 reads, “Panic Alert Security System, PASS, has been engaged by the Federal Government of Nigeria to recover assets trapped in financial institutions pursuant to a February 9, 2016 letter of engagement.
“Please render PASS the requisite cooperation and information needed to carry out this herculean task on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” it added.
But Uboh said shortly after he had traced over N582 million shady transactions by many organisations in some banks within the country, his engagement letter was revoked by the minister.
In the preliminary report on recoverable of over $598, 698, 197.65 / N47, 138, 308, 807, 063.49 / €151, 919.02 dated March 23, 2016, he listed eight of the banks where these anomalies occurred as Access Bank Plc with N5, 891, 243, 009.64 ($5, 204, 176.80); Enterprise Bank –N4, 916, 764, 653.00 ($2, 947, 322.00); Keystone Bank –N4, 513, 663, 789.07 ($582, 329, 623.55 or €2, 629.20).
The rest are Guaranty Trust Bank with N7,117, 785, 253.14; Ecobank Plc –N2, 080, 000, 000.00; Skye Bank –N13, 313, 050, 000.00; Zenith Bank –N9, 000, 000, 000.00 and Citi Bank with N306, 300, 358.64 ($8, 217, 074.65 or €149, 289.82).
Uboh, according to the report had urged the Attorney General to ensure that immediate steps are “taken to freeze these accounts to enable the transfer of the funds to FGN designated account per 2 (iii) of our engagement letter, and as part of our performance in the execution of the mandate”.
He also asked the Attorney General to cause “the provision of copies of Bankers Book Order in accordance with the provision of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2004, to enable us serve same on the respective banks.”
The security expert explained that preliminary inquiries revealed the failure or refusal by some banks and federal government agencies to transfer various sums of monies on compliance with the Treasury Single Account, TSA since September 2015.
He added that PASS also discovered some abandoned bank accounts by some government-owned companies and agencies as well some manipulations on some of the accounts of the federal government agencies.
Copies of evidence further made available to journalists titled “Keystone Bank Plc and some questionable transactions: Schedule of funds not transferred to Treasury Single Account as at 04/03/2016”, shows that the NNPC Remittance c/o Demola Banjo with account no. 1002880872 has the highest amount of $230million kept in the bank.
Some others are the Brass LNG Investment Fund Account number 1005825168 with $151, 558, 034.71; NNPC L/C Account number 109140000004 with $100, 070, 359.48; Nigerian Ports Authority with account no. 001046100028 -$38, 060, 205.44; and another $16, 398, 243.98 with the same account number.
The rest include, Nigeria Petroleum Development Corporation with account no. 1003062291 -$4, 310, 255.12; Nigerian Maritime Authority with account no. 016046100013 -$1, 466, 313.51 and another $882, 157.80 with the same account number; Deputy Chief Registrar, Federal High Court, PHC Station, Okrika with account no. 1005820534 -$875, 940.89; Economic Community of West African States with account no. 111140000048 – $2, 500, 751.35 and the Rural Finance Institutions Building Programme with account no. 1002909140 -$416, 918.91
Uboh, who said he had written three different letters dated April 4, 21, and 26 respectively to President Muhammadu Buhari after the ones sent to the Malami on March 23, April 11 and 23 on the revocation of his engagement letter without any reply from the duo till date, noted that the present administration was not ready to fight corruption.
“I was engaged by the Federal Government of Nigeria to trace stolen funds on February 9, 2016 with a follow-up letter on February 17, 2016; within 27 days, I traced N324 billion ($1 billion USD). Part of the funds I traced was funds stolen by EFCC hidden at Access Bank as alleged last year.
“Instead of AGF Malami to recover the funds per the engagement letter, Malami revoked the engagement, painting Buhari’s administration with a broad brush of corruption,” he stated.
The security expert who said Buhari should prove to Nigerians that he was ready to fight corruption by ensuring that the funds traced to the banks are recovered, alleged that management of some of the affected banks have “penetrated” the Attorney General.
According to him, “There is no need for the president and minister to be going from one country to the other in search of the stolen monies from Nigeria. Many of the stolen monies are here in the country.”