$20,000 bribe story "is attempted blackmail against EFCC"

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday refuted claims that it failed to sanction one of its investigators that was involved in a $20,000 bribe scandal in 2018.

It said the staff was demoted, suspended for three months and transferred two years ago in accordance with administrative rules, as soon as the attempted extortion was discovered.

The anti-graft agency was reacting to a publication by an online medium that the concerned staff was left untouched because he was a favourite or ‘Godson’ of EFCC Acting-Chairman Ibrahim Magu.

It said the makers of the claim were acting on behalf of defendants in a N350million fraud case who resurrected the dead issue in order to blackmail the Commission.

The EFCC on January 29, 2019 arraigned an ex-Executive Director of Punch Newspaper Azubuike Ishekwene, a company director Olalekan Abdul and Adeyinka Adewale, for conspiracy to forge, and forgery at an Ikeja Special Offences Court.

Abdul solely faces charges of forgery, use of false document, obtaining N350million from Wema Bank Plc by false pretences and falsification of books and account documents.

The said publication was titled ‘How EFCC Acting Chairman, Magu, ordered arrest of complainant to protect ‘godson’ caught for extortion during sting operation’

It claimed that when the identity of the arrested EFCC officer was examined, “it turned out to be Dectective Auwal Umar – a ‘godson’ of the EFCC boss and an integral member of a special squad within the organisation known as ‘Magu Boys’.

“Rather than sanction stiff punishment for the erring officer, Magu went ahead to turn the entire case on its head by ordering the arrest of the complainants and leaving his ‘godson’ off the hook….

“Under Magu’s protection, the said Umar had been returned to his position in EFCC, thus confirming that he’s an official bribe-collector for his godfather and therefore above the law.”

But responding to the allegations, an EFCC source said: “The staff in question has been dealt with administratively since 2018. He was demoted from level 12 to level 10. He was equally suspended for three months without pay and also posted out of department where the defendants were trying to bribe him.

“But because investigation indicted them and legal opinion stated that they should be charged to court and tried, they now felt that the best way to escape justice is by blackmailing the commission.”

In the case pending before Justice Mojisola Dada, EFCC counsel Mr Mohammed Idris, said Abdul, Ishiekwene, Adewale and Morakinyo (now at large) conspired to commit forgery on April 6, 2018.

"The defendants sometime in 2018 knowingly forged a document titled 'Account Opening Document' dated April 9, 2018 which they purported that it was issued by Cleanserve Integrated Energy Solution Ltd.

"Abdul and Ishiekwene on April 6, 2018, knowingly forged a document titled 'Board Resolution of Cleanserve Integrated Energy Solution Ltd' dated April 6, 2018 which they purported was issued by the company.

"On April 6, 2018 Abdul and Ishiekwene fraudulently presented the forged Board Resolution to Stanbic IBTC Bank as genuine.

"Abdul and Morakinyo had also on April 6, 2018 forged the Board Resolution of Cleanserve Integrated Energy Solution Ltd," he said.

According to the EFCC prosecutor, Abdul had previously on Dec. 14, 2010, forged the Board Resolution of Cleanserve Integrated Energy Solution Ltd and had presented it to Wema Bank Plc as genuine.

"Armed with the false document, Abdul had on Dec. 14, 2010 obtained a credit facility of N350million from Wema Bank Plc by falsely representing to them that the Board Resolution was genuine," Idris said.

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