By Kingsley Nwezeh
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has described the claim that its investigators pressured former bankers for a bribe of N96 million for their release on bail as untrue. The bankers are standing trial for allegedly defrauding the Central Bank of Nigeria in the mutilated currency scam.
The EFCC, in a statement, said three former bankers, Ayodele Adeyemi, Ishaq Akano and Ajiwe Adegoke, had in separate affidavit deposed to at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State, and published in an online platform, alleged that one Hammadama Bello, an operative of the EFCC asked them to raise N96 million to be set free.
The trio, who are among the ex-bankers indicted in a mutilated currency scam which investigation commenced in November 2014, alleged that Bello orchestrated their detention in a ‘German Cell’ in Abuja and forcefully seized their properties for their inability to meet the bribe demand.
However, in a sworn counter-affidavit deposed to at the Federal High Court, Ibadan on December 7, Bello, described the averments of the defendants as not only prejudicial to the pending criminal charge at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, but also a “blatant falsehood, concocted to malign and damage my hard earned reputation.
“I did not at any time request for the sum of N500, 000 or any other sum from either Ayodele Festus Adeyemi or any of his colleagues.
“I did not at any time demand for N12 million or any other sum from the defendants or from any other person.
“I did not ask any lawyer to collect any money from any of the defendants and I challenge Mr. Festus Adeyemi to name the said Senior Advocate of Nigeria.”
Bello also averred that he was not in a position to influence the release of the defendants as he was merely a member of the investigating team. According to him, “I was not one of the leaders of our team constituted to investigate the case and I could not have promised Mr. Festus Adeyemi or any other person that he would not be prosecuted.”
He described the alleged inhuman treatment of the defendants as “fiction” and described the so called “German Cell” as non-existent, insisting that the condition of the EFCC cell where the defendants were detained is decent.
“Contrary to the averments contained in paragraph 19 of the affidavit, I am not aware of the existence of any ‘German cell’ in the EFCC or in any other place.
“That I am aware that the EFCC cell is one of the best in the country with facilities such as fans, toilets, bathrooms and beddings,” he said.
He wondered why it took Adeyemi and his colleagues six years to come up with this tale of bribery and described the false averments as desperate gambit by the defendants to incite the public against the EFCC, having unsuccessfully tried to set aside the interim forfeiture of their alleged proceeds of crime.
Adeyemi and his co-defendants were alleged to have swindled the CBN of hundreds of millions of Naira by fraudulently depositing boxes of N10, 000,000.00 in supposed N1000 notes with ordinary papers, N5 notes, N10 notes, fake currencies and at times with N100 notes while the correct value of N10, 000,000:00 was given the deposit money banks in respect of each of the boxes.
Bello alleged that “Ayodele Festus Adeyemi and his First Bank colleagues offered huge sums of money to Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Muniru Adeola and Toogun Kayode Philip as their shares of the fraud in order to allow mutilated, interleafed or corroded bank notes to be accepted by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ibadan Branch.”
Adeyemi allegedly used the proceeds of the crime to acquire the following properties: i. Duplex with BQ at Kolapo lshola Estate, Bashorun Akobo, Ibadan; ii. Three bungalows of 10 flats of two bedroom at Oladigbo Street, Ogungbade Area, off New Ife Express Road, Ibadan; iii. MRS Filling Station at Old Ife Road, New Gbagi Market opp. Stanbic IBTC Bank, Ibadan; iv. A Camry Car, ash colour with registration No: KJA 569 BF; v. A bungalow of two bedrooms, comprising two flats at No. 3 Bankole Street, Alaaka, Adegbayi Ibadan; vi. A fenced empty plot of land with black gate at Lt. Col. Abimbola Onipede Close, opp., His Mercy Academy, off Bethel Secondary School Junction, off Alakia, Isibo Road Ibadan; vii. A fuel station, AZOP OIL at Lagos/Benin Express Way, Ore, Ondo State.
Adeyemi was also alleged to own monetary assets in the sum of N10, 000, 000.00, deposited in the account name of MRS Petroleum Plc; the sum of N132, 334.41 in First Bank Account No. 3022677380, Account Name: Adeyemi Enitan Olufunke; the sum of N316, 2660.77 in First Bank Account No. 2004308313, Account Name: Adeyemi Ayodele Festus; the sum of N207, 972.13 in Zenith Bank Account No. 1014010089, Account Name: Oja Omo Jesu Multibiz Ltd, a company in which he is the alter-ego and whose assets are in excess of his legitimate, known and provable income.
To forestall the dissipation of these assets, the EFCC initiated a forfeiture preceding that led to their seizure on interim basis. Contrary to the claim by Adeyemi that Bello seized his properties and had been collecting rent on them, such forfeiture proceedings are handled by the Legal and Prosecution Department of the EFCC while the Commission’s Assets Forfeiture and Recovery Management Directorate handled the management of seized assets.
“I did not and could not have employed the services of an agent to manage the forfeited assets,” Bello declared.