ICPC Confirms Arrest, Detention of D’banj over Alleged Fraud
•Artiste denies any dealing with N’ Power
•FG: We’re working with ICPC on successful investigation
Kingsley Nwezeh and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC),yesterday, confirmed the arrest and detention of Mr. Oladipo Oyebanjo, otherwise known by his stage name, D’banj, over an investigation of alleged fraud associated with the N-Power Programme.
But the artiste, in a statement, has denied “any contractual or incidental relationship whatsoever with any group or persons within or outside government in relation to the disbursement, operations, access or control of the operation of any government fund through an agency or its subsidiaries.”
Also, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management and Social Development, has said it was in close collaboration with ICPC to support the successful determination of the investigation into the fraud in N-Power Programme.
The N-Power is a scheme set up by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 8th of June, 2016, to address the issues of youth unemployment and empowerment, and help increase social development.
A statement issued by the agency, in Abuja, claimed that in line with its mandate, the commission had received numerous petitions on the diversion of N-Power funds running into billions of naira following the approval and release of such funds to the beneficiaries by the federal government.
It said many N-Power beneficiaries had complained over the non-receipt of the monthly funds in spite of payment by the government.
“About 10 persons have been invited by the ICPC over the last few months in connection with the N-Power fraud, and have been granted administrative bail after their detention,” it said.
The commission further said “several invitations to Mr. Oladipo Daniel Oyebanjo, to appear before a team of investigators were ignored and not honoured. Mr. Oyebanjo turned in himself and was taken into custody at the ICPC Headquarters on Tuesday, 6th December, 2022, and is currently assisting the investigators to unravel the circumstances of the fraud allegations by the petitioners.
“The investigation will be all-encompassing and also be extended to other collaborators of the fraud and the banks where the beneficiaries’ accounts are domiciled,” it said, adding that, the statement was necessary to set the record straight in view of the reports awash in the media.
“The investigation is ongoing and the commission prefers not to preempt its outcome and also avoid the frenzy of a media trial,” ICPC added.
Nevertheless, D’banj, in a statement by his legal representative, Law Corridor, said, “reports concerning the arrest and detention of Mr. Daniel Oladapo Oyebanjo was misconceived, malicious and prejudicial to the justice system anywhere in the world and we would advise that the general public be well guided.
“We acknowledge the fact that the ICPC is currently investigating allegations of diversion of N-POWER funds as already stated by the commission and we continue to hold the expectation that the commission will stay the course of professionalism in this matter.”
The law firm noted that as a matter of policy, D’Banj and his management did not engage in business dealings unless they are legitimate, properly documented and obtainable in law.
The statement read: “D’banj was officially invited by the ICPC in respect of the investigation a month ago, however, he sent in letters through his attorneys to the commission in respect of his schedule in South Africa and promised to visit the commission, when he returned.
“On Monday the 5th of December, 2022, D’Banj freely and of his law-abiding accord, went to the commission at about 2pm immediately he arrived Abuja. The officers of the commission advised that he returned the following day as it was late for any interview on said Monday.”
The firm said D’Banj returned to the commission the following day being Tuesday the 6th of December, 2022 as earlier agreed and voluntarily submitted himself to the commission to make their inquiry and investigation.
“D’banj has encouraged the commission to carry out its investigation thoroughly to ensure that characters attempting to bring him into such ridiculous activities must be brought to book.
“It is inconceivable that D’banj whose very career is a reference point for hard work, diligence and honesty would lend his reputation built steadfastly over the years to acts of such accusations, which he must now stoically suffer through while clearing his name.
“The general public is advised to resist the urge to buy into media sensationalism, which is unsurprising but regardless, harmful to the course for the truth, which D’banj has willing set himself on by honouring the ICPC’s summons.
“We retain the hope that the thoroughness of the ICPC will in no time exonerate D’banj of all and every allegation levelled against his person and it is for this reason that we implore the general public to stay guarded against malicious traducers, who may be attempting to soil his image for their own purposes,” the statement signed by the Assistant Team Head, Litigation, Maryam El-Yakub Musa, stated.
Also, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management and Social Development, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, hinted of the ministry’s involvement while updating the media on the ongoing investigations in relation to fraud allegations in the Programme.
He said when it came to the notice of the ministry that there might have been sharp practices by some personnel in the Payment Service Provider (PSP) involved in the payment processes of beneficiaries, the matter was immediately referred to ICPC for thorough investigation.
“We are aware that certain persons have consequently been invited for interrogation as part of the ongoing investigations. We will not interfere with the work of ICPC. I do know the investigation will proceed, but whoever needs to be arrested, l will encourage ICPC to arrest that person so that the programme will continue.
“In the meantime, we have carried out thorough reinforcement of our systems to eliminate all anomalies and prevent similar occurrences in the future. To this end, we are in close collaboration with ICPC to support the successful determination of the investigation,” Sani–Gwarzo said.
He applauded the anti-corruption commission of doing a commendable job by identifying some of the culprits, adding those indicted after investigation will be prosecuted.