•Ex-aide, Dudafa, company lack known addresses, commission alleges
Davidson Iriekpen with agency reports
The Indications have emerged that a former Chief of Staff to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Brigadier-General Jones Arogbofa (rtd), has been detained and quizzed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Also detained and quizzed are Benjamin Dikki, former Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), and Godknows Igali, former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power.
The ex-officials are being investigated over the payment of “phantom” insurance premiums totalling N27 billion for cover allegedly not provided to the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
Arogbofa, according to TheCable, was also questioned over an Abuja mansion he allegedly bought for N150 million.
His role in the premium payment could not be confirmed last night before press time.
Investigations had uncovered retrospective payments of the insurance premiums in suspicious circumstances.
In insurance parlance of “no premium, no cover,” there can be no insurance cover if premium is not paid ab initio.
Sources at the Ministry of Power had revealed that the N27 billion payments were made for covers not provided but memos were initiated, backdated and secretly executed.
The premiums were ostensibly made to insurance firms thought to be fronting for powerful figures in the ministry and at BPE.
Eventually, the money was shared among senior government officials, with some getting as much as N1 billion in the dying days of last administration, insiders had said.
A director at the ministry had said then that: “The secrecy that accompanied the development shows that the individuals involved know that when it comes to the open, it will be greeted with outrage. I doubt if the regulators in the power and insurance industries, the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) diligently looked into these transactions which have ethical and criminal dimensions.”
In December 2015, a former BPE director wrote to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, alleging fraudulent practices at the agency.
In a letter dated November 2, 2015, Ibrahim Muhammad Kashim, who retired in June 2015, alleged N27billion premium payments for a “non-existent insurance cover.”
Kashim also alleged that a phantom N1.5billion contract was awarded to a “prominent PDP lawyer” by Dikki to wind up PHCN even when there was no work for the lawyer to do.
It learnt that the detained trio have been released pending further investigations.
No EFCC official was willing to comment on the development.
In another development, the anti-graft commission has told a Federal High Court in Lagos that one of the companies in the ongoing criminal trial of Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa, a former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan is without addresses hence cannot be located.
Dudafa, along with Amajuoyi Azubike Briggs, and one Damola Bolodeoku are facing criminal charge over an alleged $31.4million fraud.
Other companies in the charge marked FHC/337C/16 are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited.
EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the inability of the commission to effect service of the criminal charge on Globus Integrated Services Limited which is charged alongside Dudafa and others was because the company could not be found.
Consequently, Oyedepo urged the court to allow the commission to effect service on the second accused person, who he said was the Secretary to the listed companies.
He said: “In line with section paragraph B (iii) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), in effecting service, this can be done on the Secretary of company. We have gone to the companies and found out that they are not in existence. We even found out that from Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), it shows that the company’ Secretary is the second defendant before the court.”
However, counsel to the second accused person, Tochukwu Onyiuke, objected to the service of the company’s charge on his client. Onyiuke argued that his client, (Briggs) has the right to address the court on point of law on such application.
Responding, EFCC prosecutor, Oyedepo, urged the court to strike out the name of the eighth company from the charge so that the plea of other accused persons could be taken. However, counsel to Dudafa, Mr. Gboyega Oyewole, objected to the reading of the charge to the accused persons on the grounds that there was nothing linking his client to the charge.
He therefore urged the court to discontinuance the charge.
Justice Kuewumi has however adjourned till September 15, for the arraignment of the accused persons. The accused persons are facing a 17-count charges bordering on alleged fraud of $31. 434. 400 million.