How we shared N468.7m project fund: Suspect tells ICPC

N924m already returned to ministry

A principal suspect in the alleged stealing of  N468, 794,613.79  earmarked for the Great Green Wall, a federal government initiative to check desert encroachment through tree planting, has revealed how a cartel planned  the fraud and how the beneficiaries helped themselves to the loot.

Adeolu Olugbenga Adeyanju told Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) interrogators that the cartel hijacked the account from the Federal Ministry of Environment and stole the sum before luck ran against them in the process of exhausting the entire allocation of over N1.392billion originally meant for the project.

ICPC foiled moves to withdraw the balance of about N924million in the account and recovered it for the ministry.

Adeyanju said the N468, 794,613.79  was first converted to dollars – about $2million based on the exchange rate in 2014 – and was then shared at a popular cinema house in Abuja.

He claimed to have received $57,000 for making his company, Detwinx Global Service Limited available for the fraud.

Adeyanju has already been charged to the High Court of Justice of the Federal Capital Territory while the ICPC is on the trail of top civil servants who connived with him to loot the account.

In a statement on oath by Adeyanju, which was attached to the charge sheet and obtained from the court, he explained how the fraud was perpetrated in November 2014.

He implicated a Director of Finance and Account, Mr. Edet Akpan in the deal.

Akpan has denied ever knowing Adeyanju or having anything to do with him.

Adeyanju said: “Sometime in April 2014, I went in search of contract. I visited the Ministry of Environment in my quest to get a contract.

“I walked up to Mr. Edet Akpan at the Ministry, Mabushi where I pleaded seriously if I can be awarded any contract at all, even if it is supply or any available contract.

“He told me that he was alone on ground as at the time I was in his office. We exchanged telephone numbers in case I may be favourably considered any other time. He gave me one Airtel number 080233246….

“Sometime in July-August, he called me to meet him at Silverbird Galleria, Central Area. I rushed to meet him with the hope that I will get contract or I have been considered by Edet Akpan.

“Meanwhile, he called me with one Glo line on that day-08085…He came with his Honda Accord ash colour with Abuja number plate. He was with a driver but he excused the driver from us.

“On getting there, he told me that he wanted to use my company for a contract he will execute and the money will be paid into my account but am I sure I will not run away with the money and I answered that never, I can never run away with his money.

“Then he said he will test me to see if he can trust me. Then a sum of N5million was paid to me which I collected and gave him. And he gave me N150,000 after he showed me a document of the list of expenses on the execution of the contract that showed a gain of N450,000.

“Then he called me sometime November 2014 to meet him in his house in Wuse 2. He said that there is another contract he wanted to use my company if only I can abide by the rules. He stated categorically that he will give me a phone that we shall use in communicating only till the contract is finally executed and paid.

“He said I should not call him on any other number except from the line he gave to me. Also, I should call his Glo line alone and I should make sure I get the money out of the bank on the same day.

“I said if that was his rule, I will abide with it. As we were rounding up, a woman drove in a KIA SPORTAGE, brown colour with Abuja number plate and he greeted the woman as “honey” and he immediately dismissed me that we shall see the following day.

“This meeting was at about 8-8.30pm that day. He gave me a small Nokia phone with a Glo line of 0807…and his Glo line 0805… was saved on it.

Throwing light on how the N468, 794,613.79 was wired into his account, he said: “at about 11am on the 28th of November, 2014, Mr. Akpan called me that money had been paid into my account.

“I asked him how much was paid and he said over N450million. I moved to the bank and confirmed same.

“Immediately, I told my account officer to arranged for a Bureau De Change that I could transfer to. When he got the BDC, I returned and wrote cheques for transfer to the Bureau De Change (BDC) account and Williams delivered the dollar value of the same figure to me. I dashed him $500 and the fellow that helped him in bringing the money into the car was also dashed $500.

“Then I drove to Silverbird Galleria to wait for Mr. Akpan. He kept me waiting for close to two hours and I became uncomfortable staying in public with the huge sum and I didn’t know what was in the mind of the bankers.

“I decided to move to ASD Motors to collect the car I bought from them the same day through transfer.

“On the 28th of November, 2014, I gave over $2milliom to Mr. Edet Akpan and he gave me $57,000 only.  Mr. Williams Echechi of Zenith Bank can recall the actual amount he collected from the Bureau De Change. Mr. Edet Akpan made me to understand that he had executed contract with the Ministry of Environment.

“I returned to Silverbird Galleria where I waited for a while as well before Mr. Akpan arrived with Honda Accord car alone and showed me the list of expenses as usual and made me to understand that he shall give me $57,000 only which he did.

“He collected the Nokia phone from me and said we shall have something doing in March and he will get to me then.

“I have not heard from him. I did not know that the money was stolen or from fraud.”

But Akpan in a statement to ICPC said: “I do not know the person by name Adeolu Adeyanju neither the owner of Detwinx Global Service Limited. I do not know Adeolu Adeyanju. It is in the course of the investigation being carried out by ICPC that I got to know or hear of this name Adeolu Adeyanju and the company.

“I have never transacted any business with him. Nobody with this name has ever come to my office for any transaction.”

As at press time, it was gathered that ICPC was still on the trail of the syndicate behind the fraud.

Records indicated that the anti-graft agency had on September 15, 2015 returned N924million intercepted to the Federal

The ICPC chairman, Mr. Ekpo Nta, had explained how the commission burst the fraud.

He said: “On the 1st of December, 2014, we received a petition from this Ministry in respect of a fraudulent electronic funds transfer from its accounts. A forged payment mandate in the sum of N924million was presented to the First City Monument Bank Plc. Where the Ministry’s account was domiciled, the funds were diverted to different company accounts.

“The funds were meant for the Great Wall Programme of the federal government meant to check desert encroachment through tree planting.”

Culled from The Nation