A lot of questions have been asked by Nigerians in the past in respect of recovered loot by the Commission; these questions were given some prominence under the administration of a former chairman, through a certain George Uboh who has a dubious history of being a serial convict, first in the United States and recently in Nigeria for fraud. The Commission, however, uses the petition addressed by Uboh to the National Assembly to put the records straight on what EFCC did with the recovered loot. Find below, point-by-point response to the allegations.
1. TAFA BALOGUN FORFEITED ASSETS
a) ALLEGATION: “That you Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, as the Executive Chairman of EFCC in March 2013, in a bid to conceal a fraud of N779, 155,004:62 being part of Tafa Balogun’s forfeited funds, falsified documents in response to the request made on you by duly constituted authorities wherein you fraudulently stated the total of 13 bank balances as N2, 258,100,576.98 instead of N3, 037,255,521.60.”
RESPONSE: A total of 15 Spring Bank accounts were forfeited by Mr. Tafa Balogun. Of this number, four (4) accounts had NIL (zero) balance. The total balance in the remaining 11 accounts as of January 2005 was N1, 226,518,163.09. In addition to this, seven (7) treasury bills/commercial papers in the same bank had a total balance of N1, 017, 178, 719.42. The two added together came up to N2, 243,696,882.51. With the addition of the accrued interest of N14, 403,634.36, the figure came to N2, 258,100,516.87.
This sum was what was paid to the Commission by Spring Bank and eventually remitted to the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Finance, as against the N3, 037,255,521.60 claimed by the petitioner. It is pertinent to note that, of the four (4) accounts with Nil balance, account no. 01C11201191, erroneously appeared on the court order as a Dollar account. It was a Naira account with no balance. Similarly, on the court order, there was a duplication of the Treasury Bills account of Yeboa Investment Limited (Nos. 01X0520147400 and 01X520147500) These accounts which are Bankers Acceptance ought not to have been captured as current accounts. Both accounts were erroneously listed as having a balance of N254, 279,679.86.
b) ALLEGATION: “That you Ibrahim Lamorde conspired with some EFCC officers on or about 11/03/2011 to under-remit proceeds from Tafa Balogun’s forfeitures to the consolidated revenue account by N3, 200,306,084:93 on the actual amount alone. Instead of N5, 850,908,481:91 remittable to CRF, you conspired and remitted only N2, 650,602,396:98, leaving a balance of N3, 200,306,084.93. Mr. Lamorde you confirmed that as at March, 2013 you are still holding back the sum of N2, 409,380,875:67”.
RESPONSE: The Commission wrote two letters to the Minister of Finance dated 22nd July 2009 and 29th November 2010, respectively, wherein it noted that funds remitted were part proceeds of Tafa Balogun recoveries. Mr. Uboh's confirmation, that in March 2013, the Commission disclosed that it was in custody of some balance, shows that there was no secrecy about the balance. However, it is necessary to state that as at March 2011, there were legal issues on some of the properties recovered from Tafa Balogun. Other claimants emerged, with claims to the properties. The cases include the property at Plot 2220 Suez Crescent, Zone 4, Abuja, which the Commission eventually won in 2013, while the other involved a property at Plot 1488, Fugar Street, Asokoro which case the Commission lost in 2014. Apart from the Fugar Street Asokoro property that is now a subject of appeal by the EFCC; three (3) other properties forfeited by Tafa Balogun are yet to be disposed of. One of the properties is located at Plot 110, Tunis Street, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja. Meanwhile, the total sum of N46,358,393.15 generated from the management of the property by Diya Fatimilehin & Co since 2009 was remitted to the Commission at various times. The remitted sum is in the Commission’s recovery account.
The remaining two properties which appeared on the forfeiture order as Plot 75, Asokoro and Plot 2262B Maitama A6 District, Abuja, are also subject of legal disputes.
c) ALLEGATION: “That you Ibrahim Lamorde, conspired with some EFCC officers to trade with the aforesaid proceeds from Tafa Balogun forfeitures between 2008 and 2013 at an interest of 12% per annum, amounting to N2,154,625,556.37, an amount you have been unable to account for, thereby making you liable to remit the sum of N5.34 Billion to the CRF”.
RESPONSE: The placement of forfeited monies in interest yielding accounts is not an entirely new idea. The court in various rulings ordered some funds to be placed in interest yielding accounts. Rather than warehousing forfeited funds in current accounts for a long period, the Commission lodged such funds, including those of Tafa Balogun, in interest yielding accounts. The interest element is always in line with CBN Cash Reserve Ratio and not fixed. Not a single kobo is taken out by the Commission under this initiative.
It is interesting to note that under this initiative, as at March 2015, the sum of N696, 590,765.36 was generated as interest on recovered funds with Access Bank Plc. Another sum of N522,807,543.83 presently stands as interest generated from recovered funds with Ecobank Plc, while the subsidy recoveries with Enterprise Bank Plc has yielded the sum of N736,609,666.62. All these monies are intact and are held on behalf of the Federal Government until all encumbrances to their release are cleared.
For purposes of transparency and accountability, the Commission sought and obtained approval to operate a dedicated interest income account vide a letter from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation Ref. No AGF/TRY/RB/441/VOL.I/128 dated 3rd December, 2012.
The facts of the balance of Tafa Balogun’s recovered assets are not hidden, neither are issues of the interest which accrued thereof.
2. DSP ALAMIEYESEIEGHA FORFEITED ASSETS
a) ALLEGATION: “That you Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, as the Director of Operations, conspired with some officers in the EFCC to manipulate the forfeitures and recoveries from DSP Alamieyeseigha, which events took place between 2006 and 2007, as if it took place in July, 2008, with a view to shifting responsibilities to the regime or tenure of Mrs. Farida Waziri. By this act, you traded with recoveries amounting to over N3.7billion for almost 2 years before formally documenting the transaction”.
RESPONSE: DSP Alamieyeseigha was convicted in July, 2007. The process of the disposal of his forfeited asset also commenced same year following his conviction as it could not have been possible to dispose his assets in 2006 before conviction in July 2007 (as alleged by George Uboh)! The first part of the money realized from the disposal was remitted to the Commission’s account by Real Estate Derivatives Limited on 24th July, 2008 while the last payment from the sale of his assets in Nigeria was received in March, 2009. On 9th July, 2009, the total sum of N3, 128,230,294.83 realized from the assets was remitted to the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Finance in favour of Bayelsa State.
A summary of the assets recovered from DSP Alamieyeseigha are as follows:
i. Sale of 5 real estate N1, 982,915,352.22
ii. Recovery from Bond Bank N1, 000,000,000.00
iii. Legacy Bond Bank recoveries N105, 314, 942.61
iv. Proceeds from Chelsea mgt. N40, 000,000.00
v. Proceeds from rent collection N60, 000,000.00
vi. Pesal Nig. Ltd bank account N97, 708, 387.64
Other recoveries are:
vii. USA Treasury cheques $215,000.00
viii. Chelsea Hotel Management $226,000.00
ix. Chelsea Hotel Management €7,000.00
x. Chelsea Hotel Management £2,000.00
xi. Two properties were returned directly to Bayelsa State i.e. Chelsea Hotel and No.2 Marscibit
Street, Ishaku Rabiu Estate, Wuse II Abuja.
Apart from the proceeds from rent collection and Pesal Nigeria Limited bank account, all other monies listed above have been remitted by the Commission to the Federal Government through the Ministry of Finance in favour of Bayelsa State.
The balance of N157,708,387.64, with the Commission comprise of the sum of N97,708.387.64 forfeited by Pesal Nig Ltd, which was remitted to the Commission by Diamond bank on 12th June, 2015, and the sum of N60m discovered through routine account reconciliation in 2014. This balance will be remitted at the end of the ongoing audit of the Commission’s exhibits and recoveries by a reputable international audit firm. Regarding the offshore assets of DSP Alamieyeseigha, the repatriation of the forfeited foreign assets was handled by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, not EFCC.
b) ALLEGATION: “That you Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, conspired with some EFCC officers to transfer a lower amount of N3,128,230,294:83 to the Government of Bayelsa State on 18/1/2010 instead of N4,257,503,009:23 being proceeds from the recoveries from DSP Alamieyeseigha”.
RESPONSE: For the record, Ibrahim Lamorde was not in EFCC between May 2008 and December 2010 and could not have conspired with any EFCC official from his duty post in the Nigeria Police to transfer or withhold any recovered fund.
However records available in the Commission, indicate that the total sum of N3, 128,230,294.83 was remitted to the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Finance in favour of Bayelsa State on 9th July, 2009 as earlier stated and not 18th January, 2010. The balance due to be remitted is as stated in this publication. George Uboh should provide evidence to show that EFCC remitted the proceeds of DSP Alamieyeseigha assets to Bayelsa State through the Federal Government on 18th January, 2010 (instead of 9th July, 2009) and to also produce evidence for the sum of N4, 257,503,009.23 he claimed ought to have been remitted to Bayelsa State.
3. CONCEALMENT OF UNSOLD FORFEITED ASSETS
a) ALLEGATION: “That you Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde as the Executive Chairman of EFCC have continued to conceal the details of the unsold properties forfeited by both Tafa Balogun and DSP Alamieyeseigha despite receiving rent revenues from some estate agents on the said properties. For example Etudo & Co. estate agents aggregate N 185,663,336.62 in Access Bank to wit: 28/3/2012 (N70, 655,872.47), 13/9/2012 (N99,083,241.75) and 6/3/2012 (N15,944,222.40)”.
RESPONSE: Etudo & Co. has NEVER served as EFCC asset manager on any property forfeited either by Tafa Balogun or DSP Alamieyeseigha. The rent proceeds, which date of payment and total sums were cited by George Uboh, were actually payments by Etudo & Co from the management of forfeited properties of suspects/accused persons other than Tafa Balogun or DSP Alamieyeseigha.
For the avoidance of doubt, the said rents were remitted to the Commission as follows:
i. The sum of N70, 655,872.47 paid on 28/3/2012 was collectively generated from the management of the forfeited properties of Erastus Akingbola, Lucky Igbinedion and Alh. Tukur Muazu.
ii. The sum of N99, 083,241.75 paid on 13/9/2012 was collectively generated from the management of the forfeited properties of Erastus Akingbola, Bayo Lawal, Kayode Ojuri, Timothy Akani, Esai Dangabar, Aliyu Bello, Joshua Chibi Dariye and others.
iii. The N15, 944,222.40 paid on 6/3/2013 was collectively generated from the management of the forfeited properties of Mr. Bayo Lawal, Esai Dangabar and John Yusuf Yakubu.
George Uboh mischievously extracted the correct amount of rent remitted to the Commission by Etudo & Co. and the dates of remittances and deliberately misapplied them to build up a phantom case of fraud against Mr. Lamorde and ultimately deceive the Nigerian people.
4. MANIPULATION OF RECOVERY ACCOUNT
a) ALLEGATION: “That you Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, as Director of Operations between 2003 and 2007, Ag. Chairman of EFCC between the period of June 2007 to May 2008, a period your chairman went on course in NIPSS, you conspired with some banks especially Access Bank Plc and Intercontinental Bank Plc to doctor and manipulate EFCC recovery accounts and expunge ALL entries relating to the recovered funds lodged in the said accounts from May, 2003 to May, 2008 amounting to over N800billion”.
RESPONSE: Again, the relationship between Access Bank and the EFCC started after Lamorde was eased out as Acting Chairman of the Commission and posted by Nigeria Police as Area Commander, Ningi. The history of EFCC’s banking relationship with Access Bank and the then Intercontinental Bank started on 30th June, 2008 with a letter to the Accountant General of the Federation requesting approval for EFCC to open an account in both banks. The AGF’s approval was received on 22nd July 2008 while on 22nd August, 2008 the Commission forwarded letters of signatories to the account to Access bank.
If EFCC had no banking relationship with Access bank and Inter-continental Bank before AUGUST 2008, is it not the height of mischief to allege that the Commission doctored, manipulated or expunged transactional entries of its account with both banks “FROM MAY 2003 TO MAY 2008"?
5. CONCEALMENT OF RECOVERY ACCOUNT IN CBN
a) ALLEGATION: “That you Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, conspired with some EFCC officers and your external Auditors to operate and conceal a recovery account in CBN and excluded the balances from your audited financial statements between 2005 and 2011, thereby deceiving the users of the financial statements, including the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms of Government. The said balance excluded from the annual reports and accounts and which understated the balances of seized funds at the end of the respective years include:
RESPONSE: Although forfeited funds in custody of the Commission are not the Commission’s money, as a practice, they form part of the audited accounts of the Commission. However, where such funds are transferred or paid to the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Finance, they ceased to be in custody of the Commission. George Uboh must indicate how he arrived at these figures as the Commission made full disclosures in its annual reports to the National Assemblies in the applicable years.
There is no evidence anywhere to suggest that the balances which the petitioner stated were excluded from our annual reports. The only sources of funds which are not captured in the Commission’s audited account are the ones domiciled in an account named EFCC Recovery Funds-AGF No 0020089341017 with CBN. However, this account is not controlled by the Commission as the signatories are staff of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation. More insight is provided on the operation of this account in the response to allegation six, below:
6. DIVERSION OF CHEQUES
a) ALLEGATION: “That you Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde while your boss went on course in NIPSS and you held sway as acting chairman of EFCC conspired with some officials in the Nigeria (sic) Judicial Institute in September 2008 to divert several cheques and draft valued at N1,678,345,000.00, but claimed were lodged in EFCC recovery account CBN. Some of the said cheques and draft are listed below and which were recoveries from NJI on the 18th April, 2008 are not traceable to any EFCC recovery account”.
a. N184,316,745.11 cheque
b. N30,157,348.07 cheque
c. N400,000,000.00 draft
d. N985,123,668.20 cheque
e. N3,000,000.00 cheque
f. N450,000.00 cheque
RESPONSE: In September 2008, Lamorde was Area Commander in Ningi, Bauchi State. Was he combining his duties as Area Commander with headship of the EFCC at a time the Commission had a substantive Chairman?
Nevertheless, it is necessary to explain that some cheques /draft recoveries are usually issued in favour of the Federal Government. Because such instruments cannot be cleared through any of the EFCC recovery accounts, the Commission approached the Federal Ministry of Finance seeking authorization to have an account solely for recoveries made in the name of the Federal Government of Nigeria. This affected the sums listed by the petitioner.
Following the Commission’s request, the Minister of Finance instructed the Accountant General’s Office to open and maintain an account named EFCC Recovery Funds-AGF with account No 0020089341017 in CBN, which signatories are from the Accountant General’s Office, for the Commission to warehouse recoveries meant for the Federal Government of Nigeria. This account is not under the control of the Commission which is the reason the account was not reported.
The cheques and drafts listed above were among such instruments issued in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria hence, they were cleared into the AGF controlled account. They were not (and could not) have been diverted by any official of the Commission as alleged.
For the avoidance of doubt, we state as follows:
Cheque of N184, 316,745.11 was a UBA instrument dated 24/4/2008 with S/No. 3815710 addressed to Sub Treasurer and was forwarded to the Minister of Finance on 2/10/2008.
Cheque of N30, 157,348.07 was another UBA instrument dated 11/4/2008 with S/No. 3815711 addressed to Sub Treasurer and was forwarded to the Minister of Finance on 2/10/2008.
Draft of N400, 000,000.00 was an Oceanic Bank instrument addressed to Sub Treasurer dated 22/4/2008 with S/No. 1533678 and was forwarded to the Finance Minister on 2/10/2008.
Cheque of N985, 123,668.20 also addressed to Sub Treasurer was a CBN instrument dated 24/4/2008 with S/No. 774 and was forwarded to the Minister of Finance on 2/10/2008.
Cheque of N3, 000,000.00 also addressed to Sub Treasurer was a Fidelity Bank instrument dated 1/9/2008 with S/No. 57012 and was forwarded on 8/10/2008 to the Hon. Minister of Finance.
Cheque of 450,000.00 addressed Federation Account was a Bank PHB instrument dated 28/5/2008 with S/No. 50751854 and was forwarded on 8/10/2008 to the Hon. Minister of Finance.
7. ILLEGAL WITHDRAWAL FROM RECOVERY ACCOUNT
a) ALLEGATION: “That you Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, as the Executive Chairman of EFCC on the 17th day of January, 2012, withdrew or caused to be withdrawn the sum of N183, 124,185.95 vide an instrument Ref. E.F.C.C/ACCESS/PS/01/01 January 09, 2012 from the EFCC recovery account in Access Bank Plc knowing full well that remittances from recovery account should go either to the victim of crime or the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Government. This you did in breach of EFCC Establishment Act, 2004 and extant laws”.
RESPONSE: Sometime in 2011, the EFCC was facing budgetary constraints with adverse consequences for its operations. Consequently, the Commission approached President Goodluck Jonathan through the Attorney General of the Federation and received presidential approval to utilize interest which accrued on recovered funds amounting to N183, 124,185.94.
It was on the basis of the approval received by the Commission to utilize the accrued interest that the above instrument Ref. E.F.C.C/ACCESS/PS/01/01 dated January 09, 2012 was raised.
8. NON REMITTANCE TO FEDERAL INLAND REVENUE SERVICE (FIRS)
The attention of the Commission was also drawn to various newspaper publications of 7th September, 2015 in which George Uboh alleged that EFCC failed to remit the sum of N1.7bn to the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS between 2010 and 2011. The publications listed 15 companies which paid various sums in favour of the FIRS and alleged that the monies were not remitted as follows:
i. Zakhem Construction Ltd: N401m
ii. Daewoo Nig. Ltd: N208m
iii. WAPCO: N311m
iv. Maikano Intl Ltd: N16m
v. Protea Hotel, Apo apartments: N10m
vi. Reiz Continental Hotels: N32m
vii. Coscharis Motors Ltd: N130
viii. Elizade Nigeria Ltd: N555m
ix. ITCC Technical Ltd Kaduna: N47m
x. Grand Ibro Hotel Abuja: N14m
xi. Efab Properties Abuja: N19m
xii. Le Meridien Hotel, Port Harcourt: N10m
xiii. Northern Nigerian Floor Mill Plc: N2.7m
xiv. Ni ’ima Guest Palace: N2.8m
xv. Okomu Oil Palm: N5m
RESPONSE: This claim is either borne out of mischief or crass ignorance of the mode of remittance of tax recoveries or both. It is pertinent to state that the Commission at the time remitted tax recoveries to FIRS either by forwarding the instrument of payment to the Chairman FIRS or through Fidelity bank tax officer via the pay direct platform. Payments made through this platform cannot be confirmed easily by FIRS because of the sheer volume of transactions involved. But the elementary fact is that, no one can appropriate tax revenues as the cheques are drawn in favour of FIRS and cannot be diverted without the knowledge and approval of the person in whose favour the cheque is drawn.
Below is evidence of remittance in the case of the under-listed companies which payment were processed by EFCC through Fidelity Bank Plc:
S/N/ ORGANIZATION/ INVESTIGATED AMOUNT IN PETITION/ CONFIRMED PAYMENT/ YEAR OF INVESTIGATION/ PAYMENT PLATFORM/ PAYMENT BANK
1. Maikano 16,389,319.3716, 389,319.37, 2010, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
2. Daewoo Nig. Ltd. N208, 038,277.00, 2010, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
3. WAPCO N311, 112,363.67, 2010, Ikeja, ITO Transfer
4. Protea Hotel Apo Apartments N10, 487,000.00, 2010, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
5. Zakheim Construction Company Ltd N401,140,187.78 , 2010, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
6. ITCC Technical Limited, Kaduna N47,795,632.91, 2011, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
7. Grand Ibro Hotel, Abuja N14,765,064.02 , 2011, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
8. Elizade Nigeria Ltd, Lagos N555,241,009.00, 2011, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
9. Efab Properties, Abuja N19, 321,540.50, N24,551,570.88, 2011, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
10. Coscharis Motors Ltd N130, 000,000.00, 2011, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
11. Le Meridien Hotel, PortHarcout N10, 124,387.70, 2011, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
12. Reiz Continental Hotel N32, 570,800.00, N44, 786,228.47, 2011, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank.
13. Northern Nigeria Flour Mills Plc N2, 778,500.00, 2011, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
14. Ni'ima Guest Palace N2, 830,760.70, 2011, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
15. Okumu Oil Palm Plc N5, 000,000.00, 2011, FIRS Pay Direct Fidelity Bank
TOTAL: N1, 767,594,842.651,785,040,302
TAX RECOVERIES BETWEEN 2010 AND 2011
It is important to note the discrepancies between the confirmed recoveries by the Commission and figures supplied by Uboh. Were the Commission conducting an opaque operation, it will not be reporting higher figures (over N23million).
9. CASES TRANSFERRED BY THE NDLEA
a) ALLEGATION: EFCC is also alleged not to have accounted for cases transferred to it by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA between 2006 and 2013.
RESPONSE: Between 2006 and 2013, EFCC received a total of 75 cases from NDLEA. The cases related to various offences including, unlawful possession of financial instruments, currency trafficking, unlawful possession of counterfeit financial instrument, obtaining under false pretense and unlawful possession of fake currencies among others.
The cases were basically transferred along with exhibits which include financial instruments in form of cheques, drafts, traveler’s cheques, money order and cash in local and foreign currencies which were mostly fake or counterfeit in nature.
Not a kobo or Cent or Penny of transferred genuine or fake currencies from the NDLEA was mismanaged by the EFCC.
BELOW IS A SUMMARY OF THE VALUE OF FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS/CASH RECOVERED THROUGH THE NDLEA:
S/N/ DESCRIPTION/ NAIRA/ DOLLAR/ EURO/ POUND/ CFA
1. Total released 15,683,230774,75010,00023,00076,665,000
2. Tendered in court 1,887,700434,320267,0003,000
3. Value of fake currency 116,8605,507,9794001,243,64550,000
4. Total in EFCC Custody 15,620328,11710,000
5. Funds Retained By Liberian Authorities 508,200
6. Grand Total 17,753,4107,553,366287400.001,269,64576,715,000.00
It is noteworthy that before the recent amendment to the Money Laundering Act in 2011, there was no penalty for non-declaration of funds at the nation’s exit points. Most of the cases charged to court for non-declaration under the Money Laundering Act 2004 and 2006 were dismissed and the assets recovered returned to the accused persons.
It is our hope that this publication has sufficiently addressed the concern of well-meaning stakeholders and the general public. The Commission maintains that the slew of allegations and orchestrated media campaign were contrived distractions intended to derail the work of the EFCC to provide shield for corrupt and fraudulent Nigerians from justice.