By Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said the best place for former House of Representatives member, Hon. Chidi Duru, and others to defend themselves over alleged financial crimes charges instituted against them is in a competent court of law rather than engaging in media war.
The anti-graft agency also stated that its action against Duru and others was based on a petition by some aggrieved shareholders of First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL).
Speaking with THISDAY in confidence last night in Abuja, a senior operative of EFCC handling the criminal case against the former member of the House of Representatives, while reacting to his claim recently that he was not on the run said the anti-graft agency got involved in the matter in order to protect the over N100 billion worth of pension assets being managed by FGPL.
The EFCC’s source who pleaded anonymity “because of the power play’’ involved in the matter, insisted that Duru, one Chief O.O Ojo and a South African, Mr. Derrick Roper, representing Novare Holding Limited’s interest, are being wanted for diversion of millions of naira of FGPL, a licensed pension administrator.
The source added that there is no court order whatsoever restraining the agency from acting or investigating the criminal cases against Hon. Duro, contrary to his claim.
The EFCC also said PENCOM and EFCC’s interventions in FGPL were inevitable in view of the fact that the various infractions and looting of the pension administrator persisted since 2007, which forced some shareholders to petition the anti-graft agency and the Nigeria Police Force.
“The action of the shareholders was legitimate; it was based on the urgent need to protect the over N100 billion worth of pension assets, being managed by the FGPL on behalf of over 178, 444 retirement saving account holders,’’ the source added.
It added that: “PENCOM only took regulatory action on the three indicted directors, including Duru by removing them from the board of the FGPL pursuant to the provision of Section 88 (2) of the FGPL 2004 and the framework for the Resolution of Failing Operators.
“The PENCOM board subsequently set-up an interim management committee to superintend over the affairs of the company until the shareholders re-constitute the FGPL’s board and appoint a new management team.’’
THISDAY further gathered that the shareholders who were alarmed by the finding of the special examination by PENCOM, had filed a suite at the Federal High Court, Abuja with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/784/2011 — Alhaji Kashim Iman & Co Vs National Pension Commission and others, to compel the commission to implement the recommendations of the special examination report and to restrain the indicted directors from interfering with the commission’s decision.
“The substantive matter is still pending before the Federal High Court, Abuja. And contrary to Duru’s claim, there is no court order restraining us from investigating him and other indicted directors,’’ the source added.
The anti-graft agency has specifically accused Duru of diversion of N16 million — being part of the equity contribution of Novare Holding — a South African’s firm to another business without following due process and obtaining board approval; collecting N20.5 million as “executive allowance’’ without board approval and diversion of the company’s assets worth millions of naira for his personal use.