*$2.1b scam: Court orders immediate release of Dasuki’s ex-aide
Mr. Fani-Kayode was the chief beneficiary of a N3.145billion fraud perpetrated by then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the build up to the last presidential election, investigators at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, revealed to an online newspaper today.
The anti-graft agency said they have uncovered evidence showing how prominent politicians, mostly from the PDP, allegedly shared N3.145billion in 2014/2015.
The revelation came in a day that a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Jabi, Abuja ordered the EFCC and the Nigerian Army, to immediately release Col. Nicholas Ashinze, a former aide to the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd)
Justice Yusuf Halilu gave the order in his judgment in a suit filed by Ashinze for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights to personal liberty. Ashinze had been in detention since December 23, 2015, in relation to the ongoing investigation into alleged diversion of funds meant for arms procurement under the past administration.
Named in the alleged loot are a former aviation minister and director of media for the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign organization, Femi Fani-kayode; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and leader of the Social Democratic Party, Olu Falae; a former finance minister, Nenadi Usman; a former Imo state governor, Achike Udenwa; former minister of state for foreign affairs, Viola Onwuliri and politician Okey Ezenwa
A source at the anti-graft agency told PREMIUM TIMES the money was paid by the Central Bank Nigeria into the account of the Ministry of External Affairs Library, from where it was moved into the account of a private firm, Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited.
“It was from the Joint Dimension’s account with Zenith Bank that the money was shared to various individuals and organizations for purposes that are not stated,” the source said.
The sources described Mr. Fani-Kayode was the chief beneficiary of the disbursement as he allegedly received a whooping N840million, paid in three tranches into his Zenith Bank, Maitama branch, with number 1004735721.
The first tranche of payment involving N350million allegedly hit the account on February 19, 2015.
Another N250milion was also said to have been paid into the account on February 19, 2015 while N240million moved into the account a month later, precisely on March 19, 2015.
The source disclosed that the balance on this account as at December 31, 2015 was N189, 402.72.
Next to Fani-Kayode in the pecking order of alleged beneficiaries was Goodluck Support Group which allegedly received N320million. The group was headed by Rufai Alkali, a professor and then special adviser on political matters to Mr. Jonathan
Mr Falae, investigators said, received N100m through Marreco Limited, a company whose he chairs.
The fund was credited into the company’s United Bank for Africa Plc account No. 1000627022 on March 25, 2014.
Both Achike Udenwa and Viola Onwuliri got N350million in two tranches. The first tranche of N150million was paid into their joint account with Zenith bank on January 13, 2015.
The second tranche of N200miilion has credited into their account with Diamond bank.
Nenadi Usman allegedly received N36.9million through her Zenith Bank account no. 1000158311. Her branch of Zenith Bank is located at 7 Kachia Road, Kaduna.
Coming at the rear is Okey Ezenwa who also pocketed N100million.
The sources disclosed that detectives are working to determine the real motive for the distribution of the funds.
“But as things stand, the fact that most of the payments were made in the weeks preceding the last presidential elections leaves very little to the imagination,” an investigator said.
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Fani-Kayode said the funds were paid into his account by Nenadi Usman, who was the director of finance of the Goodluck Jonathan campaign.
The campaign asked me to open an account for my campaign directorate, which I did,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said. “They then paid the money in for the assignment I was given. I asked them where they money came from. They said it was private contribution for the Jonathan campaign. I believed them, and I had no way of knowing exactly where the money came from.
“As far as I’m concerned, it was campaign funds, and the money was used for the purpose for which it was meant. And we accounted for it to the man who gave us a job to do, President Jonathan.”
Meanwhile, Justice Halilu ruled on Monday that Ashinze’s detention for over three months without trial, was “illegal, wrongful, unlawful and constituted a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of the applicant”.
The judge also ordered the immediate release of documents and items the anti-graft agency seized from the house of the applicant.
He ruled that although, fundamental human rights enforcement proceedings were not meant to be an escape route for suspects of crimes, they were to help in containing the excesses of government agencies.
Justice Halilu, however, refused to grant a perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC and other respondents from further arresting the applicant. The judge also refused to grant the N500m sought by Ashinze as compensation for his unlawful detention.
He ruled, “The EFCC is a creation of the law. The court will not allow it to act as if it is above the law. It is remarkable to note that the motto of the EFCC is that nobody is above the law, yet they are acting as if they are above the law.
“The EFCC Act is not superior to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The respondents in this matter have not behaved as if we are in a civilised society. They have behaved as if we are in a military dictatorship where they arrest and release persons at will.
“The respondents, I must be bold to say- the EFCC and the Army- have behaved like illiterate.” The judge held that by virtue of section 36 of the 1999 constitution, as amended, an accused person was deemed innocent until proven guilty in a competent court of law.
Justice Halilu also asked, “Why has the 1st respondent kept the applicant without bringing him to court? Why was the applicant, being a serving military officer, who could be easily reached, not granted administrative bail? Or is it that the applicant has been found guilty and already serving his jail term?
He added, “Nobody should be subjected to the whims and caprices of the EFCC. The essence of the rule of law and constitutional provisions is to ensure a just balance between the ruler and the ruled, between the powerful and the weak.
“Though the EFCC has the responsibility to investigate financial crime, it must however conduct its operations in accordance with the rule of law.
“The court is empowered to guard against improper use of power by any member of the society or agency, EFCC inclusive.
“The detention of the applicant, for all intent and purposes, is not just unfair but unfortunate.”