• Apara’s lawyer: We’ll expose more things soon

Bayo Akinloye

Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State and former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, yesterday reacted to the raging allegations of money laundering, fraud and tax evasion against Alpha Beta Consulting, a firm with exclusive right to collect taxes on behalf of Lagos State Government since 2002, saying he hopes the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would have the courage to find out the truth.

George said it was unfortunate that “those who called others thieves were the biggest criminals of all time.”

The PDP chieftain’s reaction came just as Adetunji Adegboyega, who is the lawyer to the man behind the revelations, the former managing director of Alpha Beta, Dapo Apara, said more disclosures would be made available to the public concerning the alleged N160 billion Lagos taxpayers monies allegedly cornered by the company.

George further told THISDAY, “The chickens have come home to roost. How can someone be raping a state so mercilessly since 1999 and he is still doing it? His time is coming to an end.

“I hope the EFCC will have the nerve to unravel it. It will be the biggest scandal that Nigeria has ever seen. It is mind-boggling and heart-breaking.

“How can anyone come from Osun and be raping Lagos like this? The authorities must get to the end of this. Imagine the kind of money involved? I’m angry with the whole system, because APC now harbours thieves.”
He said how the matter would pan out depended on the disposition of President Muhammadu Buhari and his readiness to fight corruption.

“All of them who had shared of the rot must be exposed. It will redeem the credibility of the EFCC. But first, they must shut the place down and a law enacted that no one must collect revenue on behalf of the state again and everyone involved must be exposed,” George stated.

During an exclusive interview with THISDAY at the weekend, Adegboyega spoke, among other things, on the ownership of Alpha Beta and who fired Apara. He said, “I wouldn’t want to make any comment on that. But the records are there. The CAC documents are there. They will show you who the directors and owners of the company are.
“But what I can confirm to you is that our client, Dapo Apara, owns 30 per cent of the company and it is on record. There are certain things I wouldn’t want to go into details of.”

Regarding the allegations of fraud and money laundering made against the company, he said, “We will organise a press conference and make further comments on ownership of Alpha Beta. Our allegations are against the company and we believe that the federal government is determined in tackling corruption, encouraging people to blow the whistle. That’s what Apara is doing right now. All I can confirm to you is that he is no longer the managing director of the company. His process of removal and whoever removed, I can’t talk about that. All I know is that he is no longer the MD.”

Speaking on why Apara had to blow the whistle only after he was given the boot as Alpha Beta CEO, his lawyer explained, “As a former managing director of a company, you will agree with me that he is privy to a lot of information about things that are going on in the company. He was removed late last year…early this year. A lot of illegality is going in Alpha Beta and he wouldn’t want to be identified first and foremost with these things. This is the reason he is coming out as a whistle-blower in line with the anti-corruption policy of the present administration.

“It is time for the necessary agency to look into this company and look at what is happening. Our client has made some allegations, let them look into that and find out whether these things are true or not. And most important, he doesn’t want to be associated with it because if you know him, he is not that kind of a person that can be involved in such a fraud.

“As the MD, he had always spoken against some things, insisting that things should be done properly. He is known for his principles and rule of law. All those things are on record and documented. There were times he spoke against certain things and still found that those things were done through whatever means, you know.
“So, he has come out at this time and this is the appropriate time. Let the authorities look into this company. Let there be an investigation. We are going to call a press conference and lay out these things for everybody to know what is going on.”

The lawyer also refuted claims in some quarters that Apara was part of the fraud and that he only spoke out when things were no longer going his way.

“No, he did not help to perpetuate all the illegalities,” Adegboyega said. He explained, “You can be the MD of a company and a lot of things can be going on without your knowledge. And then the point is this: at any point in time. We know that the issue of criminality is not time-bound. So, if one decided that this is the time that I will speak and he can come out and blow the whistle, I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that. It is better being done at any time rather than not being done at all. That is what is happening now.

“If you see the tax notice given to him by Lagos government, you won’t believe he had paid N80 million to the government. I am not sure Alpha Beta has paid as much as that at all. The records are there. You can all find out what is going on. He is a stickler to rule of law. So, it is not because of that. Rather than refuse to pay, he would rather go to court and challenge the tax assessment you are giving him. But he had already paid the N80 million to the government.”

Adegboyega also clarified the N45 billion owed Apara, saying it includes his entitlements as a shareholder controlling 30 per cent of Alpha Beta’s shares.

“The records of the company’s earnings are there. There is also an entitlement he is due to receive as a shareholder of the company. You see, that is by the way. Like I said, it’s not about the money. It’s about doing things the right way, which is why he is saying, let me come out. Let me blow the whistle on what’s going on. If he didn’t do that now, later, when the issue is exposed, he would be counted as one of the perpetrators. He doesn’t want to be seen that way. That’s the major thing,” the lawyer stated.

On the motive for Apara’s decision to publicise his allegations, his lawyer insisted that the revelations were made in good faith and not out of any grievances.

Adegboyega said, “There’s no issue of grievance here. He is a whistle-blower.”

Meanwhile, EFCC has acknowledged receipt of the petition written against Alpha Beta by Apara. It stated that it was under going processing and evaluation just like other petitions before deciding the next step.

Apara had accused the company of tax fraud amounting to N100 billion. In a petition to the EFCC, Apara claimed Alpha Beta, the firm with exclusive rights to monitor and collect internally generated revenue on behalf of the Lagos State “had been involved in fraud and money laundering.”

The petition read in part: “Over the years the company has been protected and shielded by some powerful politicians and people in the society which made them to always boast of being untouchable, but our client, feeling the need not to keep quiet again and strengthened by his belief in the fact that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is keen on fighting corruption, which has been the bane of our country, is of the firm belief that it’s time to expose and open the can of worms called Alpha Beta Consulting.”

In a series of tweets, Apara had called on the EFCC to carry out “a simple investigation”, saying that will reveal the fraud being perpetrated by the company.

According to documents sighted by THISDAY, the petition was written in July this year.
“The EFCC investigation should be simple and straight forward. Not rocket science. Alpha Beta has been IGR consultants to the Lagos State Government since 2002, earning about 10 per cent and has generated IGR of about N1.5tn (yes trillion), excluding FAAC and loans,” the petition stated.