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EFCC Beam Searchlight On Banks Over Private Placements

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, war  against money laundering    appear  to have taken a new dimension as the anti-graft agency beam their searchlight on the Banks over private placements running into billions of naira.

 The Commission may have used the  on-going trial of Maurice Iwu, a Professor and former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and Akiwumi Ambode, a former governor of Lagos to expose the Banks of accepting Company and Individual placements bothering on money laundering .

The agency  had arraigned on Thursday, August 9, 2019,  the former INEC Chairman, under  former President Goodluck Jonathan Administration  at a  Federal High Court  in Lagos  on a four -count  charge  on money laundering  to the tune  of over N1.2  billion.. The agency investigators  had reported   that the money was  Concealed   in the  Bioresources  Institute  of Nigeria , BION, limited, United Bank of Africa , UBA, plc, Account No. 1018603119.  

The  agency had  reported  that the amount which was lodged in the UBA Account  by the Company which was  linked to Iwu,  were proceeds of fraud. According to the Commission the Amount was  domiciled in the UBA , Account    between December 2014 and March . 2015. The Amount,  the Electoral Umpire insists  were part of  the N23.29 billion  slush fund  that were said to have been  shared by  Dezani Allinson- Madueke , a former minister of Petroleum Resources, to enhances of then President  Jonathan of winning the 2015, Presidential  election but he lost to President Muhammadu Buhari of ruling All Progressive Congress APC.

Prof. Maurice Iwu: Breathes Air Of freedom As Court Grant Him Ba

The former INEC  helmsman may be facing the same problem as Akinwumi Ambode, a former governor of Lagos state.  The governor  had  been arraigned earlier on Monday , August 6, 2019. For operating a scheduled  Accounts to the tune of about N10 billion lodged  in First City Monument  Bank, FCMB.Zenith and and Access.   Given an insider information on the Accounts,  the Commission  disclosed  that FCMB, lodgment was domiciled in Account No.5617984012, Zenith-1011691254 while the Access Account No. was 0060949275.

Though the duo have denied the allegations, describing it as damn lies , the Commission may have dragged  the former top government functionaries   to Court and exposed their  lodgments s in these  various Bank   Accounts to prove a point that the Banks are giving coverage to  individuals and Companies involved in money laundering in the country to boost their deposit. The case involving Iwu an Ambode , a former governor of Lagos  may have been instituted by the agency to give the  four  high profile Banks a bad name and to further  send signals   to other  prominent  Nigerians  who have held political office  who have private  placements running into billions of naira  in the Banks that they are coming for them soon

But the Banks are not ready to allow the  EFCC, break into  the Banking oath of secrecy by exposing their  high profile Customers to ridicule. They believe that the  proper way which the  agency  could follow to obtain any information on any of the high profile suspects would have been to write  the Bank  which are in a position to make  such Information available instead of using their powers to go go through the baack door to obtain the information. This may have informed  why the Banks have tightened  up security to protect  their Customers Confidential information.

Political watchers believe that  Iwu, the former INEC, boss arraignment may not  really have  much  to do with the Bank lodgments but  his alleged involvement  in the last general election.  He was alleged to have  linked  Atiku Ababakar ,the PDP presidential Candidate , in the 2019. Election, to  anonymous INEC officials, who may have helped him  to obtain an  unofficial print out copy of the result which  was said to have given him victory.

 Atiku, according to party sources, is still holding to it that he won the 2019, Presidential election  based on the Computer print out. He had given the impression  at the five –man Tribunal  set up by  Mohhammad Tanko, the Chief Justice of Nigeria , that the Commission electronically  transmitted  the results  of the February 23, 2019  poll to the its Central Server. But the Commission would not agree that the Computer print out of the alleged election was real, insisting that  the  results of the election  were Collated  and declared manually. It maintained  that it kept no such Server where such electronically transmitted results could be obtained  by the likes of Atiku.

The PDP and Atiku,  its  Candidate in the election, had argued at the Supreme Court also that that  the Commission has a functional Server , urging the Court to grant them access to the Server and the smart Card  readers used  in the conduct of the election  but that was how far the party could go.

Officials of the Commission may have thought that they would keep Iwu, described as a big fish in political circles, in their Custody , for as long as they want . They got it wrong as Chuka Obiozor, a Justice and presiding Judge  of the  Federal High Court , Ikoyi, Lagos. After listening to the arguments of the Lawyers , hired by the two parties   granted bail to  Iwu, a Political Science Professor and the former INEC, boss, in the sum of N1 billion last Friday. It was a big relief to the Professor who has bee in the EFCC, Custody  for days.

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