EFCC-Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde
Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are set to arrest the former Ogun State Governor, Chief Gbenga Daniel’s close associate and former Managing Director of Gateway Holdings, Mr. Gboyega Isiaka, over a multi-billion duty waiver scam perpetrated during his tenure in the company.
Isiaka was also the PPN governorship candidate in the last election in the state.
In 2006, the Daniel-led administration was alleged to have used Gateway Holdings to apply for and got a waiver on the importation of 44,000 tonnes of iron rods worth about N4 billion.
The administration was alleged to have claimed that the rods were meant for the construction of stadia for the Gateway Games 2006.
However, the quantity of the rods that were to be imported raised suspicion among top customs officials as the quantity far exceeded what was needed for the construction of the stadia.
Also, at the time of the application, the sports festival was already six weeks away and thus it was impossible for the imported iron rods to be used for construction of stadia as it was allegedly claimed in the application for waiver.
Top customs officials suspected that the waiver application was fraudulent and actually meant to enhance the profits of some importers who would sell at open market.
Gateway Holdings allegedly took bank loans totalling N620 million and was said to have imported just 8,000 tonnes of iron rods out of the 44,000 tonnes for which they allegedly got waiver.
The customs top officials were disturbed about the transaction that they labelled the consignment ‘under investigation’ and was impounded for many months at the ports.
Daniel was said to have intervened and pleaded for the seized rods to be released. When the rods were released, it again came under bank lien.
This forced the importers to sell it to a company called TNT, which was appointed by First City Monument Bank, which co-financed the transaction.
Sources alleged that, of all the imported iron rods, not a single was used for any project owned by the state government.
Yet, Gateway Holdings was compelled to bear the burden of paying the interest and demurrage amounting to about N200 million. The transaction was covered up at the Gateway Holdings.
What has now attracted the anti-corruption agency to the transaction is the fact that as earlier suspected by the Customs, the duty waiver request by the state government was part of the bigger scam.
The EFCC is investigating claims that companies owned by Daniel allegedly used the waiver to import tonnes of iron rods and evaded payment of duty.
According to EFCC, the plot was a deliberate move to defraud the federal government and deprive it of hundreds of million naira in revenue.
Sources said the Acting Managing Director of Gateway Holdings, Mr. Ayo Salami, had been quizzed by the EFCC but he was unable to explain the dealings, which is why the commission’s agents are now set to move against Isiaka.