EFCC probes Bode George, Odili, Bello Over $2bn Arms

This is the riddle the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is battling to resolve. Its detectives are probing the role (if any) of Chief Olabode George, former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, former Rivers State Governor Peter Odili and a former General Officer  Commanding (GOC) 82 Division, Maj.-Gen. Sarkin-Yaki Bello.

Although the three were under EFCC’s watch yesterday, none of them had been arrested as at press time. In fact, George denied knowing former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki. Odili and Bello could not be reached for comments.

The clues on them were said to be preliminary, based on references by some suspects.

Three bank accounts belonging to the embattled former Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) finance director Mr. Shaibu Salisu have been frozen.

The EFCC shut down the accounts as part of the ongoing probe of the $2billion arms contracts.

Also, the agency has invoked the Interim Assets Forfeiture clause in its Establishment Act to seize three duplexes, worth N810million in Lake View Estate in Abuja, which were allegedly traced to Salisu.

Dasuki yesterday denied implicating anyone in his statement at the EFCC, which secured a court order to remand in custody some suspects, including the former NSA. The others are former Sokoto State Governor Attahiru Bafarawa, former Minister Bashir Yuguda, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi and 18 unnamed persons.

The EFCC is said to have discovered that Salisu allegedly “diverted government funds and made illegal payments to his companies from ONSA’s accounts”.

The Nation stumbled on a document which indicates that four slush companies – Fanskan Equisite Travel Tours, Starr Concrete Blocks PPTYS, Famskan Exquisite Limited and Musim Ventures – were traced to Salisu.

The document shows that the EFCC found that three duplexes (at N270 million each) in Lake View Jabi allegedly belong to Salisu, in spite of the fact that the name on the receipt is Yusuf Salisu.

These duplexes were apart from a “mansion” in U Bur Dubai and a big farm in Zaria, Damwanzam Farms Limited (bearing the email address of the ex-director).

It was also learnt that the EFCC was still looking at the business relationship between Salisu and Halal Hotel and Rekiya Hospital in Kaduna.

A top EFCC source said: “We have frozen three key accounts of a former Director of Finance of ONSA. By the time the figures are collated, we will tell you the actual amount. But out of N600million deposited in one of the accounts on October 2, 2014, about N100million was  given to one Alh. Bashir.

“All the three banks involved have been asked to put PNB on the accounts.

“As I am talking to you, we have invoked the Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause to seize three duplexes(at N270million each) at Lake View Estate, Jabi which were traced to Salisu.”

Some suspects have reportedly named George, Odili and Bello as some of the beneficiaries of the “arms cash bazaar”.

“We are putting them under watch until there is sufficient ground to either invite or arrest them,” an EFCC source said.

“Certainly, there are some allegations but none of them has been fully implicated or arrested. And we have not invited any of them for questioning.”

Asked when some high-profile suspects will be granted bail, the source said: “Well, we have secured a court order to remand in custody some suspects, including  Dasuki, Bafarawa, Yuguda, Dokpesi and 18 others.

“We don’t want to release them in a manner that will jeopardise the ongoing investigation. Some of them have mentioned a few individuals and corporate organisations and we need to conduct due diligence.

“For instance, Dokpesi admitted collecting N2.1billion for publicity. We have asked him to produce evidence of award of the contract, the terms of the contract, the schedule of execution and how the contract was related to arms purchase.

“The media owner also gave some evidence and we have to get in touch with those concerned and organisations to verify his claims.

“For a while, the suspects will be with us and we will treat them well – in line with international best practices.”

It was learnt that the EFCC has written some media owners to clarify what  Dokpesi meant by being “embedded in various organizations.”

“In making up his defence, Dokpesi told interrogators that he was embedded in some media organisations.

“We don’t know what he meant and we have written the affected media to explain if they were given any share of the N2.1billion for publicity .”

Dasuki yesterday denied ever making statement, implicating anyone or group in  his statement to the EFCC.

Dasuki, who spoke through his lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), said he never named anyone to EFCC and wondered ýwhere the authors got their information from.

Raji said: “I was with Dasuki yesterday and wish to make categorical statement that my client never made any statement of such nature or named anybody or group in any statement.

”Quote me anywhere, Dasuki has not done anything like that. It is absolutely untrue. It is the figment of the imagination of the authors aimed at creating falsehood for reasons best known to them and Nigerians should disregard them.

”They are just out to scandalise the man, bring his image and character into disrepute so that his friends and well-wishers can run away from him. They want him deserted and that will fail.”

A source close to ONSA said  not all funds being probed were related to arms procurement as being alleged.

The ONSA manages several funds for national security and other special interventions, which are not related to Boko Haram or arms procurement.

They include recurrent expenditures and miscellaneous expenses under Special Service Office (SSO) to fund special projects and programmes including capacity building, refreshments, travelling, office maintenance, crisis communication and support to special causes and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

“Most of the figures being bandied were taken from the special funds meant for the purposes that they were spent and not on the so-called arms deal.”

“All over the world, there are lots of expenditures of national security and sensitive matters that are not ridiculed in the press,” the source told PRNigeria, a covert media machinery of the military.


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