N2.5b Fraud: EFCC Arrests Ex-Imo Gov, Udenwa…As Fani-Kayode Goes Underground, Switches Off Phones

imageEconomic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives yesterday arrested former Imo State Governor Achike Udenwa over the disbursement of a huge sum of money during the 2015 presidential election.

Of the N4billion withdrawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), N2.5 billion was paid into the accounts of six chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including Udenwa, and the Goodluck Support Group (GSG).

As of last night, Udenwa was still being detained at the Lagos State office of the anti-graft agency, which has launched a manhunt for a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode.

Of the six people implicated in the scandal, only a former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Usman, has been grilled by detectives.

The details of how the cash was disbursed are: Fani-Kayode (N840million); Goodluck Support Group (N320million); Achike Udenwa and Viola Onwuliri (N350million); Nenadi Usman (N140million); Olu Falae(N100m) and Okey Ezenwa (N100million).

Mrs Usman, who was granted administrative bail on health grounds, is expected for more interrogation in Lagos this week. She was said to have refunded N140 million. She signed an undertaking to make more refunds and forfeit two houses to the government.

She allegedly owns an account, “Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited”, into which a substantial part of the funds was lodged and from where cash was disbursed to party chieftains.

According to a source, Udenwa, who was allegedly picked up in Enugu was flown to Lagos for questioning.

A source in EFCC said: “As part of the ongoing probe of the N2.5billion illegally collected from the CBN for campaign purpose, our operatives have arrested a former Governor of Imo State, Achike Udenwa. He was picked up in Enugu but now detained in Lagos for grilling.

“He is expected to explain how he came about N350million with a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri.

“Besides getting the list of beneficiaries of the N350million, we are interested in how he will refund the cash, which was illegally taken from the CBN.”

imageThe EFCC has launched a manhunt for a former Aviation Minister Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, who “has refused to report to the agency for interaction”.

“All attempts by our operatives to locate the whereabouts of Mr. Fani-Kayode have failed because he has not only switched off his phones, he has virtually gone underground,” the source said, adding: “We will fish him out wherever he is. Having been watch-listed by the EFCC, he cannot hide for long .”

Fani-Kayode is rated as “the chief beneficiary” of the disbursement of the slush funds as he allegedly received N840million, paid in three tranches into his Zenith Bank, Maitama branch account with No.1004735721.

The EFCC source gave the details of the transactions from Mrs Usman company’s accounts to Fani-Kayode and others.

The source said: “The first tranche of payment involving N350million hit the account on February 19, 2015. Another N250milion was also paid into the account on February19, 2015 while N240million was similarly credited to the account a month later; precisely March 19, 2015.

“The balance on this account as at 31st December, 2015 was N189, 402.72.”

The Goodluck Support Group allegedly received N320million

Falae allegedly received N100m through Marreco Limited, a company in which he is listed as chairman. The fund was credited into the company’s United Bank for Africa Plc account No. 1000627022 on March 25, 2014. The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation has denied any wrongdoing.

“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 was credited into their account with Diamond Bank,” the source said, pleading not to be named because he is not permitted to talk to the media.

Okey Ezenwa is believed to have received N100million.

Fani-Kayode has said that he got the cash for campaign purposes and that he rendered and account of how it was spent. He never knew the source of the cash, he said.

Udenwa said: “The money was disbursed with approval from the presidential campaign headquarters. It was not paid into my personal account.”

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