Nigeria: Emiefele – More Heads May Roll As Investigators Beam Searchlight On CBN, NIRSAL

The special investigator appointed by President Bola Tinubu and his support team are set to commence quizzing officials involved in alleged sharp practices at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and related entities, Daily Trust findings reveal.

Following the sacking and subsequent arrest of Godwin Emiefele, Tinubu appointed Jim Obazee as a Special Investigator to probe the activities of the CBN and other related entities.

In a letter dated July 28, Tinubu said the appointment of Obazee, relying on the fundamental objective outlined in Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution, was in furtherance of his administration’s anti-corruption fight.

Daily Trust reports that the Inspector General of Police had on September 6 deployed a four-man team of senior officers to support the special investigator to probe the activities of the apex bank and related entities.

The deployment was in response to a letter by Obazee dated August 18 requesting the IGP to deploy senior officers to his office to facilitate the smooth take-off and execution of his assignment.

In response, the IGP in a letter titled, ‘Deployment of Police Personnel’ with reference number TH:5361/FS/FHQ/ABJ/T.5/428, listed the deployed officers as DCP Eloho Edwin Okpoziakpo; CSP Celestine Odo; CSP Segun Aderoju and DSP Tijani A. Bako.

It was gathered that preliminary findings based on developed intelligence by the investigating team led by DCP Eloho are already causing sleepless nights to the top management at the CBN and NIRSAL.

Daily Trust had in December 2022, investigated multiple corruption allegations that rocked NIRSAL under the former managing director, Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed, who was later fired by ex-President Muhammadu Buhari.

Apart from revisiting the N5.6 billion wheat project scandal in Kano and Jigawa states, a source confided in Daily Trust that the investigators would be digging into the alleged allocation of about N600,000 monthly for the upkeep of the former MD’s dogs.

It was gathered that some close aides of the embattled ex-CBN governor and officials of other affected entities are jittery as the crack team is set to start quizzing them over some contracts at NIRSAL, as well as the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme soon.

Among the contracts is that for the design, development, and hosting of the Jigawa State unemployed graduate database for NIRSAL which was first awarded to a company, Syspec Network Limited of No.20 Jalingo Shopping Complex, Jalingo, Taraba State.

The contract award letter dated May 23, 2016, with Reference Number: MD/PROC/013 was signed by the ousted Managing Director of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abdulhameed. It was said to have been re-awarded several times as a conduit.

“The investigators are also set to unravel how the Anchor Borrowers funds were being kept as fixed deposits by parties close to the embattled CBN governor. This scheme was to allow parties involved to scoop the interest generated by the deposits.

“This development led to a significant delay in the delivery of fertilizers and other inputs to farmers, and by the time the inputs were eventually supplied, the planting season would have been over even as they (farmers) were expected to pay for the unsupplied inputs,” a source told Daily Trust.

Daily Trust reports that the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme guidelines stipulate that upon harvest, benefiting farmers are to repay their loans with produce (which must cover the loan principal and interest) to an anchor, who pays the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account.

Another source confided in Daily Trust that among those involved in the fixed deposits racket is an aide of the ex-CBN governor (names withheld) who is said to have operated a total of 61 bank accounts that included 44 fixed deposit accounts and 2 treasury bills accounts.

Daily Trust reports that in a letter dated July 28, Tinubu said the appointment of Obazee, relying on the fundamental objective outlined in Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution, was in furtherance of his administration’s anti-corruption fight.

Prior to his appointment, Obazee was the chief executive officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) until 2017. His job was with immediate effect, and he was asked to report directly to the president.

It was gathered that startling preliminary intelligence by the investigator’s team headed by DCP Eloho is already sending jitters down the spines of top management staff of the CBN and NIRSAL.

The IGP is said to have nominated Eloho, a renowned investigator, as head of the Special Investigator’s support team as part of his desire to boost President Tinubu’s fight against corruption and economic sabotage.

The president recently gave a marching order that all funds allocated to these agricultural programmes be recovered.

It is widely believed that DCP Eloho is a thoroughbred investigator within the police force who worked under the IGP when he was DIG FCIID. It was there that the IGP identified Eloho’s capacity and penchant for thorough investigation.

Sources within the Nigeria Police Force said Eloho, whose work as an investigator spans over 20 years at the top level of investigations, holds a degree in Psychology and a master’s in International Law and Diplomacy with hands-on-deck experience in economic, financial, cybercrime and other white collar crime investigations.

DCP Eloho is said to have started his investigative journey at the state level with the FCT Police Command where he headed the Commissioner’s Monitoring Unit between 2005 and 2008. In this position, the CP referred matters of importance directly to him and he was always asked to take over the most difficult investigations from other sections.

At the national level, he worked at the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU), Ikoyi, Lagos, and Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) in 2008 where he was appointed to head several sensitive sections after being a part of the General Investigation Section of the unit.

The sections he headed include the Cybercrime Section, Assets Fraud Section, Bank Fraud Section, and the Anti-Money Laundering Section.

Currently in charge of the Counter Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) having previously been in charge of the Bureau’s Cryptography & Cybercrime Unit (CCU), Eloho served in various investigative capacities both at the state command levels and the Force Headquarters (FCIID) level.

He was the pioneer head of a unit created at the request of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in conjunction with the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF), with the major aim to assist the Nigeria financial sector in the investigation of e-Payment and card crimes.

Destruction of files, and records at NIRSAL

Daily Trust gathered that there are attempts by some of the officials targeted for investigation at CBN and NIRSAL to scuttle the process. This is said to have led to the alleged destruction of office files, contract documents and related records.

Sources familiar with the investigation said among the destroyed office documents is a contract for the development of NIRSAL’s ICT Policy.

“Although financial trails show payments made multiple times for the same contract, the record of this contract has disappeared from NIRSAL’s procurement department,” an insider who wouldn’t want his name mentioned said.

Another source told Daily Trust that unless the investigation team deploys ways and means of obtaining the necessary contract records and documents, it may have hitches getting to the root of the matter.

Contacted on phone, the Head of Procurement at NIRSAL, Sheriff Salaudeen, however, said the organisation does not destroy its files or other records.

He declined further comments, insisting that he would only do so if a written request is communicated to NIRSAL.

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