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Two Key Witnesses Die After Giving Evidence Against Ex-Governor In Alleged N29bn Fraud Case

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Two vital prosecution witnesses who gave evidence in the trial of former Adamawa Governor Murtala Nyako have died mysteriously.

Adekunle Odofin, a detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, made the startling revelation before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja today.

According to the detective, the two witnesses made “crucial statements” during the investigation into a N29billion fraud case.

Odofin told the court that the two persons were very vital to the prosecution of the case.

Nyako is being prosecuted by the Commission, alongside his son, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba, on a 37-count charge of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N29billion.

Five companies that allegedly served as conduit pipes for the illegal diversion of the funds – Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited, were equally charged before the court as the 5th to 9th defendants.

Testifying as the twentieth prosecution witness, Odofin, who started his testimony on June 23, 2018 and tendered documents which were admitted in evidence, told the court on November 26, 2018, that one Mohammad Maj Iro, who was the General Manager, Zenith Bank Plc, the Regional Manager in charge of North-East, and the Account Officer of Adamawa State 200 accounts, domiciled in Zenith bank, died after making “crucial statements”, at the time of filing the case in the court.

While being led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, on November 27, 2018, the detective told the court that the Commission also extended invitation to one Dalhatu Abdulmalik, who was the cousin to Nyako.

The commission invited the Director of Ameak Investment Limited, Kirkelly Investment Limited and Pilkola Engineering Limited, who also died after giving his statement.

Odofin said Mohammad Major Iro pulled out over N800million from the Adamawa State account, and credited it to Crust Energy Limited, the 9th defendant in the case, taking orders from Nyako.

Odofin explained that the pattern of two accounts belonging to the State (Special Service Department, SSD, and Secretary to the State Government, SSG) drew the attention of the EFCC.

According to him, “the behaviour of these accounts, showed how money was being withdrawn in multiples of Ten Million Naira on different dates, running into billions of naira, by late Mohammad Maj Iro”.

“The question is, why did Maj Iro withdraw money from Adamawa State account, without being a staff of the state government?

Investigations revealed that memos were originated from permanent secretaries of the SSD, Mohammed Ibrahim Jidado and that of the SSG, Emmanuel Ibrahim.

“Having generated these memos, same were forwarded to SSG for transmission to the number one citizen of the State, the governor. Upon the approval of these memos, same came back to the SSG”.

He explained that vouchers were raised after the approval of the memos, in the name of the Permanent Secretary, the Accountant, and cashier as the same and now taken to Maj Iro.

“Having received these cheques, Maj Iro, being a seasoned banker, pulled out these monies from the two accounts ( SSD and SSG) and he starts crediting various individuals and corporate accounts, most especially, without the knowledge of the account owners”, the witness added.

“Maj Iro credited Zenith Bank accounts of the 5th to the 9th defendants (Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited), out of the money he pulled out from Adamawa State account. Part of the money Maj Iro transferred to Tower Asset Management Limited, the sum of N678,000,000 (Six Hundred And Seventy-Eight Million Naira) was transferred to Crust Energy on different dates.

“Maj Iro also transferred N160, 000,000 out of the money he pulled out from Adamawa State account to a company called Maxion Option Limited. Maxion Option Limited transferred same to Crust Energy Limited zenith bank account”.

The witness further told the court how Maj Iro disbursed millions of naira to the companies used to launder state funds.

“Maj Iro also transferred sums of money on different dates to Sabore Farms Limited. Out of the money transferred to the company by Maj Iro, the sum of N20million was transferred to Mainstream Energy Limited. Another N20million was transferred from same Sabore Farms to one Sanni Hello of Mainstream Energy Limited. Another N10million was transferred to Crust Energy Limited”, Odofin said.

Statements made by Maj Iro at the Commission were tendered and admitted in evidence by the court.

According to the court, “Statements made by Maj Iro on June 21, 2014; June 24, 2014; July 2, 2014; July 10, 2014; July 15, 2014; July 22, 2014; July 23, 2014; August 29, 2014 and October 22, 2014 admitted in evidence as LL40-1 to Ll40-9, respectively”. Also, statements made by Dalhatu Abdulmalik were tendered and admitted in evidence.

The matter was thereafter adjourned to November 29, 2018, for the continuation of trial. (NAN)

BIG STORY

BREAKING: I Remain Lagos Police Commissioner, It’s A New Order From Abuja – Edgal Imohimi Declares

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Edgal Imohimi, has declared that he remains the Lagos State Commissioner of Police.

Imohimi told members of the press on Tuesday during a handover-takeover ceremony between him and supposed incoming CP, Kayode Egbetokun, that they were about concluding the process when a directive came from Abuja asking them to suspend the action.

Imohimi, who addressed journalists in the presence of Egbetokun at the Lagos State Police Command’s headquarters, said, “I am sure that you know Mr Kayode Egbetokun, he is an old timer in the command.

“You all know that our first job is about order and direction; we were about concluding the handing and taking over procedure when we were instructed by our bosses from Abuja to suspend action for now. So, there will be no change of guard for now. Of course, we would keep the press briefed about any development.

“But I am happy, humbled that you find it serious enough for you all to come to witness what we are doing here. I consider it an honor.”

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JUST IN: Buhari Formally Names Mohammed Adamu New IGP, Decorates Him In Aso Rock [PHOTOS]

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President Muhammadu Buhari has officially named Mohammed Adamu as acting Inspector-General of Police, IGP.

Buhari decorated him with the new rank during his meeting with the outgoing Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris and Adamu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Mohammed had served as the Commissioner of Police in Enugu State.

He was one-time director of peacekeeping operations of the Force.

He had been the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone Five, in Benin, Edo State.

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BIG STORY

EFCC Nabs Bishop Defrauding People In God’s Name

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Benin Zonal Office has arrested a Bishop and suspected fraudster, Giniko Obi, for allegedly defrauding thousands of people of millions of naira, in the guise of helping them “fight poverty”.

Obi, founder of Beloved Gideon Foundation, based in Agbor, Delta State, with outreaches in Bayelsa, Onitsha, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Benin City, however, denied any involvement in fraud claiming that he was only “doing the will of God by trying to help the people fight poverty”.

According to him, it was his desire and God’s will to see people prosper that led him into operating what appears to be a Ponzi Scheme. Obi who claim to be a consecrated Bishop, possessing a diploma in theology explains thus:

“We write books such as ‘24 Nuggets for Successful Living’, ‘36 Nuggets for Successful Living’, ‘48 Nuggets for Successful Living’. We organise seminars and conferences on how to be successful. We tell the people to subscribe to these publications. If you subscribe with N10, 800, we give you N15, 000. If you subscribe with N18, 000, we give you N23, 000. I had about 30,000 subscribers and I was paying them”.

According to him, when he left Agbor for Lagos, his desire was to expand his subscription base but his subscribers were impatient.

“If they allowed me to hold the conference in Lagos, I would have paid them,” he claimed.

However, some of his victims who have continued to throng the EFCC office, since his arrest, described him as a “fraud”.

One of them, Janet Amaka Okafor, said the Bishop sold a dummy to them by claiming that he was from the famous Gideons International, based in the United States.

She said: “He organised seminars in Agbor market that he was from Gideons International and that their mission was to help eradicate poverty in Nigeria.

“He told us that unlike in the past when Gideons International distributed Bibles and Christian literatures, their mission now was to eradicate poverty”.

On how she became a victim of the scheme, Okafor, 35, who claims she has never participated in any Ponzi scheme in the past said she fell for his tricks because the “Bishop” swore with the Bible.

“The Bishop knelt down and swore with the Bible. He convinced us that he was from Texas, USA and we believed him. I subscribed with N10, 800 and he paid me N15, 000. It was after this that he engaged over 60 of us as canvassers. I brought many people including my relations and friends. All together, they invested over N5 million”.

Another victim, Bessie Nwadibire, 67, said the Bishop was very deceptive from the beginning.

“When he came to the market he gave out drinks and dashed some people money as much as N50, 000 as he said the poverty rate in Nigeria was too high,” Nwadibire said, praying and hoping that the Bishop will be made to refund her money.

Expressing gratitude that the EFCC has arrested the Bishop, she said, “Before he was arrested, we went into hiding, because all the people who invested their money into the business through me have threatened to kill me unless I refund their money. The money is over N8, 000, 000 (Eight Million Naira) only”.

The same tale of woes has become the lot of Wisdom Aderemor Okpuzor, a civil servant based in Agbor.

Okpuzor who said she had to flee her home for fear of being attacked described the Bishop as “callous and evil”.

The suspect will soon be arraigned in court. (NAN)

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