$97.5m fraud: Aondoakaa moves to protect Martins

It was a drama of wits yesterday in Abuja Federal high court following an un-procedural move by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, SAN, to stop Lagos lawyer, Mr Festus Keyamo, from further prosecuting the Chairman of Police Equipment Fund, PEF, Chief Kenny Martins for fraud. The AGF seems afraid that Keyamo will replicate the success he recorded

in the case where a Federal High Court in Lagos found a PDP Chieftain, Chief Olabode George and five others guilty of corrupt practices and handed down a sentence of two and a half years.

Kenny Martins is standing trial before the court on a four-count charge of defrauding an American company, Cavalry Security Group, LLC, totalling $97,500,000 million.

Martins, was infamously known for  embezzling over N10billion raised via fraudulent activities through the Police Equipment Fund (PEF) scheme that he later changed to a foundation. Not only is Kenny Martins pitted against the law for fraud and allegations in Nigeria, he has brazenly taken criminal initiative abroad to the U.S.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Mike Aondoakaa had earlier issued fiat to Keyamo to prosecute Chief Martins over the charge.

But without withdrawing the fiat or informing him that he would invoke his powers under section 174 of the 1999 constitution to take over the prosecution from Keyamo, the Attorney-General of the Federation yesterday sent a lawyer from his chambers, one Mr Emmanuel Akissa to debrief the Lagos lawyer.

Keyamo had protested openly in court the manner with which the chief law officer of the Federation went about it, saying it was embarrassing. He explained to the court yesterday that he was never informed that he should hands off the case file.

The protest by Keyamo over the embarrassment suffered by the style of the Attorney-General to kick him out of the case made the trial judge, Justice Adamu Bello, yesterday to lash out at the chief law officer of the Federation.

The judge told the Attorney-General yesterday that though under the law, he had the unquestionable powers to prosecute anybody who is suspected to have committed any crime, he however, said having earlier issued fiat to Keyamo to prosecute Martins, and he said he could not come to court to take over the prosecution without first conferring with him (Keyamo).

He said doing that was capable of bringing the legal profession into disrepute.
Although Aondoakaa was not personally present in court yesterday, the lawyer he sent, Mr Emmanuel Akissa, to violently take over the case from Keyamo received the heat yesterday.

But Akissa specifically told the court yesterday when the heat was getting much on him that his brief was to take over the case and not to confer with Keyamo.

He said it was not his business whether or not Keyamo was issued fiat by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation but to carry out Aondoakaa’s instruction to the letter.

Efforts by Keyamo to call Akissa to order fell on deaf ears until another senior lawyer in court who claimed that he was 22 years at the bar joined Keyamo to urge the court to deprecate the conduct of the lawyer in the chambers of Aondoakaa.

It will be recalled that Kenny Martins and his cohorts hijacked the PEF project from its original initiators. He has been in and out of Police and EFCC custody over the misappropriation of over N10billion belonging to PEF and has been arraigned a number of times.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Mahammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, who was the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of PEF, was so pissed that he resigned and petitioned President Yar’adua to investigate Martins over the handling of PEF when he learnt that Martins forged his (Sultan’s) signature to register a company, PEF Security and Communications Ltd with registration number, RC 18689.

Using the Sultan’s name as front, they started soliciting for funds and got a $10million grant from an European-based company which felt convinced when they saw the Traditional ruler’s name as Chairman of the company. The Sultan petitioned the Police and EFCC and the presidency started up a probe led by Ahmadu Ali, a commissioner of police.

The Keyamo case against Martins had threatened relations between two security chiefs: the bosses of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In the earlier case, while the EFCC was trying to tighten the noose against Kenny Martins, following his earlier discharge from the allegations of corrupt practices by a Magistrate Court in Abuja, by filing an appeal and getting a special fiat from the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Michael Andoakaa to prosecute Martins and his fellow accused, the police on the other hand were working cordially with the accused.  They even assigned nine mobile police escorts to him.

Martins, in an interview with a national daily, The Guardian, claimed that he enjoys a cordial relationship with Onovo whom he said was in support of the Foundation even before he assumed the plum position of IGP.

“We have a man like Ogbonnaya Onovo as the Inspector General of Police and his management teams, who are all in along in support of the foundation, but by the constraints of their position then, they could not do much. We are already talking to them and having meetings at the Force Headquarters and informally,” Martins revealed in the interview.

The friendship between Onovo and Martins, according to sources dated from Onovo’s years as Commissioner of Police.

According to a source, “On assuming office as the IGP, Onovo was already loyal and promised to help him in his travails as Martins had done him endless favours in the past. They   met and perfected a plan on how the IGP will use his influence as the police boss to drop all the charges against Martins by the police as well as order for the release of all the PEF vehicles confiscated by the police and EFCC”.

Onovo, it was alleged, in September 2009, wrote memos to Aondoakaa requesting the withdrawal of all criminal charges against Martins and his accomplices pending in some federal courts, claiming that the charges had been hurriedly sent to court by his predecessor, Mr. Mike Okiro. He also claimed that the police lacked evidence to prosecute the cases.

In November 2009 in an Abuja Magistrate court, Judge Abubakar Talba discharged Kenny Martins and his associates. They got a reprieve as the court  upheld the “no case” submission by Johnny Ucheaga, counsel to the accused persons, that none of the witnesses from the EFCC established ingredients of conspiracy, breach of trust and mis-appropriation as contained in the criminal charges against the accused persons.

Following the victory in court of the EFCC through their counsel, Festus Keyamo over the former Chairman, Chief Bode George, who was accused of corrupt practices and abuse of office, the commission was congratulated and praised for its courage in prosecuting the perceived sacred cows.

While still basking in the euphoria of that much-needed enigma boost, the sudden discharge of Martins rubbished the tarnished image the EFCC again.

Keyamo dragged the matter to an Abuja High Court sitting in Gwagwalada, presided over by Honorable Justice Mwada Balami.  On December 11,  2009 the court issued a bench  warrant of arrest to Martins, his deputy, Ibrahim Dumuje, Joni Icheka and Cosmas Okpara on charges of corruption, forgery and diversion of funds meant for the equipping of the Nigeria Police.


Martins responded by granting an interview to The Guardian eight days later, where he accused Waziri and Keyamo of blackmail after they had been vindicated and freed by the court.  He went on to say that the EFCC had lost the basic case and was hopeful they will lose the appeal.

“Definitely they have lost the case and I am hopeful they will lose the appeal. I am surprised at Mrs. Farida Waziri’s interest and alliance with Festus Keyamo in this blackmail attempt,” Martins fumed during the interview.

The revealing interview propelled Keyamo to write a letter of caution to the IG, Onovo on the 22nd of December, 2009. The four-page letter entitled: “Your Alleged Alliance with multiple accused person, Kenny Martins,” was copied to the Presidency, the AGF, the Chairman, EFCC, the Ministry of Police Affairs, the SSS and the Deputy Inspector Generals of A,B, C,D,E and F Departments. Though the letter was restricted to the persons it was copied, National Daily got a copy of the letter from a police source.

In the letter, Keyamo informed Onovo that he was writing in respect of charges pending against one Chief Kenny Martins in charges No FHC/ABJ/CR/61/09, between FRN Vs Kenny Martins & others where Martins is standing trial in respect of criminal charges ensuing out of false presentation in the USA and Nigeria, of PEF as an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria which is still pending in a Federal High Court 2, Abuja with the case adjourned till 19th January 2010; Charge No: FCT/HC/13/CR/66/2008 between FRN vs Kenny Martins and three others which was initiated upon a petition written by the Sultan of Sokoto and upon which Kenny Martins and other accused were discharged but not acquitted and of which the EFCC has filed an appeal challenging the decision of the court which discharged the persons and charge No: FCT/HC/GWD/CR/68/09 between FRN Vs Kenny Martins and four others where they are standing trail for forgery of documents in order to defraud the Police Equipment Fund of which a bench warrant of arrest has been issued.

Keyamo went on to inform Onovo that in all cases against the accused, the said Kenny Martins along with others were alleged to have defrauded persons using the name of the police of which Onovo was the head. 

“However, in the last few days, some stories have emerged in the media where the said accused person has publicly made certain claims about his romance with you as the number one policeman in the country,” Keyamo said in his letter.

He summarised the implications of Onovo’s fraternity as: holding meetings with a fugitive, declared wanted by a court of law when he should be in your custody as directed by the court. “In fact, the story is that you have provided him with enough mobile policemen to guide him when you have withdrawn thousands from lesser mortals,” Keyamo listed: That Onovo had all along been in support of the activities of those accused of and charged with defrauding unsuspecting Nigerians by using the name of the police; that he (Onovo) may not render assistance needed by the prosecuting team by releasing the Investigating Police Officer’s (IPO’s) and all documents necessary to prosecute the suspects to a logical conclusion. 

Keyamo, in retrospect, recalled a meeting he had with the IGP and the six D.I.G’s shortly after Onovo was appointed the new police boss where he informed the police chiefs of the claim by Martins that Onovo owed him some loyalty because he influenced his appointment and the flat denial of the claim by the IG at the meeting.

“But, if these claims are true, it would appear there is a suspicion of truth in the earlier rumours I brought to your attention,” Keyamo wrote.

Keyamo finally informed Onovo that he was anxious to see him  succeed as IGP and that no such matter like the accused person rubbish his career.

After Keyamo forwarded the letter to the IGP and the other security and government officials, it was  learnt that the IGP was alleged to have contacted Martins on the new development and  Martins swiftly went on a rampage. Without wasting time, Martins appeared on a Television talk-show after the Christmas celebration and lambasted both Mrs Waziri and Keyamo. Martins called both of them blackmailers, and vehemently accused the EFCC chairman of bribery and corruption in her handling of the sacked bank managing directors (MDs). He accused Waziri of collecting 10 per cent of the money recovered from bank debtors, threatening to bring out the evidences when the time is ripe.  

Sources confirmed that Martins had been visiting the IGP regularly in his office; “It is most embarrassing that a wanted fellow is hobnobbing with the IGP openly.”

In the present case, the police hierarchy and the controversial brother in – law to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and proponent of the Police Equipment Foundation; Chief Kenny Martins later started playing a “hide and seek game” that ended when Martin was arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on a 4-count charge of advance fee fraud popularly known as “419”.

Chief Martins,  according to the charges,  allegedly “falsely presented” himself as an official of the Federal Government with the sole aim of defrauding an American Business Group of various sums of money in hard currency.

Chief Martins was alleged to have, in various parts of the United States of America; New York, New Jersey and the state of Delaware, within the year 2007, under the false pretence of representing the Federal Government, conned Calvary Group to the tune of $400, 000.00. He was also alleged to have entered into series of agreements, under false pretence, for the right of benefit of accessing a loan facility to the tune of $97, 500,000.00.

The former President’s In-Law was also alleged to have presented himself as a representative of the Nigerian Government to procure a loan of $97, 800.00 from the EXIM Bank.

It is bizarre that Aondoakaa has again confirmed that Kenny Martins belongs to the select group of sacred cows that now perform their criminal acts brazenly and dares the court not to try them.

The prison is now meant for the masses while stealing and looting of the nation’s treasury goes on. 

The AGF Aondoakaa has again made many Nigerians start wondering if justice is for sale and goes to the highest bidder. In this case, Kenny Martins who is one of the faces of corruption in the country has proven that indeed crime pays in Nigeria.

Kenny Martins is a name that appears conspicuously in the Nigerian Corruption dictionary but what marvels anti-corruption minded Nigerians is the technicality and dexterity with which this man who have caused the deaths of many police officers till this day always escape justice.