By Ugo Aliogo
A whistle-blower, John Okupurhe, has written a letter to the President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation of refusing to pay him commission after exposing over $1bilion hidden in one of the new generation banks.
Okpurhe said this in a letter written by his lawyer, Mr. Aliyu Lemu, dated June 22, 2020.
The whistle-blower said the account was secretly being operated by an agency of the federal government to illegally collect revenue from vessels.
He said upon discovery, he informed the Office of AGF of the secret account in line with the whistle-blower policy, and that an agreement was signed.
According to the lawyer, the agreement stated that Okpurhe would be entitled to a commission if the information provided turned out credible.
The whistle-blower said after playing his own part, the AGF’s office began to play games.
The letter read in part, “Pursuant to the whistleblower policy of the Federal Government, our client approached the Office of the AGF with confidential information in respect of hidden public funds concealed in a commercial bank in Lagos contrary to the Treasury Single Account policy which requires all public revenue or funds to be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“Upon establishing that our client’s information qualified under the whistle-blower policy, the Office of the AGF signed a whistle-blower agreement with our client through his appointed counsel- Mamman, Maiyaki & Co.
“The information provided by our client eventually led to the exposure of the hidden/concealed funds to the tune of $1,034,515, 000.”
The whistle-blower said the Office of the AGF had been making flimsy excuses as to why the commission was not paid.
He said the Head of Asset Management and Recovery Unit, Mrs Ladidi Mohammed, informed him that the matter was in court, without disclosing the person that filed the suit or the name of the court.
He added, “On the next day, one Ms Bunmi, who deputises for Mrs Mohammed, called our client and asked him to come alone without a lawyer. Upon arrival, she informed our client that there was no pending matter in court on the account.”
The whistle-blower said he was told that because the money involved was huge, the Office of the AGF recommended a private firm with which he should enter into a contract to help him get the funds.
The whistle-blower said upon the insistence of the AGF’s office, he was made to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the company to forfeit part of his reward.
He however lamented that his lawyer was later attacked by gunmen in his office who robbed him and made away with the original copy of the agreement signed with the AGF.
Okpurhe called on the President to quickly intervene as failure to pay him could compromise the whistle-blower policy and affect public trust in the government.
When contacted, the AGF’s Spokesman, Dr. Umar Gwandu, did not respond to calls but a top official in the AGF’s office said the matter was under investigation.