Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fraudsters dupe ex-gov N3bn

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has revealed how a former state governor, who was arrested and arraigned for alleged misappropriation of public funds, parted with a whopping N3 billion to a syndicate of fraudsters in a bid to avert his trial.

Three ex-governors, a senator and some members of the House of Representatives involved in cases handled by the anti-graft commission have also lost huge sums of money amounting to over N100 million in some instances to the same syndicate allegedly led by a high profile personality who, however, was not named.

EFCC spokesman, Femi Babafemi, who declined revealing the identities of the four ex-governors and other victims of the syndicate, said yesterday that three suspects who claimed to be acting on behalf of some top officials of the agency in swindling their unsuspecting victims had been arrested, while detectives were on the trail of their leader.

Babafemi, who gave the hint at the commission’s head office in Abuja while parading two other fraudsters including a young man of 22 years, expressed shock on how a high profile victim of one of the suspects whose case had since been charged to court over a pension scam, doled out the sum of N50 million to one Alhaji Mohammed al-Amin, to halt his trial.

Although Babafemi naming the accused person in the pension scam who was allegedly duped by al-Amin, the suspect eventually opened up and gave his name as Dr. Shuaibu Sani, who he claimed contacted him to assist in aborting his ongoing trial which had become a major hitch to the realisation of his gubernatorial ambition in Kogi State.

“This man embezzled pension funds in Nigeria. I don’t know him before. He called me and said he is a governorship aspirant in Kogi State; he is in court now. He is Dr. Shuaibu Sani. He came to me in Kaduna in company with one of my neighbours and told me he had spent over N100 million on his gubernatorial ambition and the party primaries is not being held, and that I should help him. He wanted somebody to link him up, that the Kogi State governor already has a candidate of his choice who had compiled a dossier on him and sent to the EFCC. That was how the incident happened,” al-Amin said in his response to reporters’ questions.

Shortly thereafter, a mild drama played out as the suspect exchanged hot words with the EFCC spokesman over the circumstances surrounding his involvement in an auction scam for which he was also being investigated by the anti-corruption agency.

Al-Amin, described by Babafemi as a super fraudster who at various times had claimed to be a blood relation of powerful personalities in the country including the late president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, vehemently denied the allegation but said he was close to Vice President Namadi Sambo, whose wife he claimed, was his student in 2004.
The suspect allegedly claimed having close ties with the Sambos in an attempt to swindle some politicians in Kaduna. He was said to have offered to assist them in securing auction bids at the EFCC when there was no such exercise going on in the agency.

But in his account of how he got involved in the botched deal, al-Amin claimed he had approached the vice president for assistance on the issue and was later called on telephone by his (Sambo’s) wife, who sought to know if an auction was actually going on at the EFCC.

“Some group of politicians in Kaduna came to me and said they had assisted during the Goodluck Jonathan/Sambo election campaign, and wanted something like auction in the EFCC. So, I went to the vice president and told him that these people need your help. Later, after two days, the wife of the vice president called me and told me that the Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida was going to call me and she called me there and then.

She (Farida) told me, you said there is auction in my EFCC, there is no auction; I told her I didn’t say there is action going on; that these people came to me and said an auction was in the offing, that they have registered and completed all the due process. So she said I should text her the name of the company, that if it is true that it is registered and had followed all the due process and is lucky, it will get. I didn’t call Farida; why should you say I called her,” he querried.
Al-amin, however, insisted that he had maintained a close relationship with vice president Sambo over a long period and indeed, taught his wife before he became governor of Kaduna State and later, the number two man in the country.
His words: “I know the vice president. I have been teaching Namadi Sambo’s wife from 2004 before he became governor, before he became vice president and I have nothing to do. I taught her in a school called Adis-Adis Koran. Go and see my house; my house is less than N5 million, it is not even my house. It is a house we inherited; we are two. But I had never said I am one of the Yar’Aduas, or that I am their cousin.”

Also yesterday, the EFCC paraded 22-year-old Mr. Fidelis Tule, a Tiv from Benue State, who allegedly attempted to defraud two unnamed persons of N18,000 each, on the pretext of securing employment for them at the anti-graft commission.
Babafemi said in his bid to convince his victims, the suspect who was in possession of a fake EFCC staff identity card bearing his name and the rank of a Senior Crime Officer 3, had printed employment forms which he claimed, were issued by the commission.