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.
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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