Nigeria: N-Power – D’Banj’s Lawyer Laments His Continued Detention, Say He’s Victim of Targeted Blackmail

D’banj is accused of allegedly fraudulently diverting hundreds of millions of naira earmarked by the Nigerian government for the N-Power project.

Following his continued detention by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), solicitors of the famous singer and songwriter Oladapo Oyebanjo, known as Dbanj, have again called on the body to effect his release.

The pop star is accused of allegedly fraudulently diverting hundreds of millions of naira earmarked by the Nigerian government for the N-Power project, an empowerment programme set up in 2016 to address youth unemployment and increase social development.

In a statement on Thursday, his lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, said the singer has dutifully cooperated with the Commission during their investigation.

Mr Olajengbesi added that D’banj has also demonstrated a shared zeal to help the Commission make its impassioned and honest findings on the matter, as he is interested in clearing his name.

In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, D’banj’s attorney said that the commission has carried out all the necessary checks but has continued to delay the singer’s release.

He said, “They have checked all his accounts, and to their satisfaction, there is nothing relating to N-Power in his account. Nothing incriminating was found on him. His release has been processed, but the delay is a need for an order from above.”

In a statement earlier, Mr Olajengbesi described the allegation brought against D’banj, an entrepreneur, as false, saying that his immediate release has become expedient under the law and constitutional convention.

“Investigators of the Commission have, between the 6th and 7th of December 2022, thoroughly examined D’banj’s honest and straightforward answers to all its inquiries to the mutual satisfaction of the Commission and his legal representatives.

“Consequently, after Wednesday’s interview session, we were informed he will be released as a matter of course, having found nothing on him and with no other grounds for his continued detention. However, the Chairman of the Commission was required to sign off on his immediate release before it could be effected, and that never happened,” he said.

Targeted blackmail

According to Mr Olajengbesi, although Dbanj, who owns DB Records, has been getting the required legal representation, the singer believes that he is somehow the victim of targeted blackmail or faceless malice from certain quarters with perhaps vested interest in his downfall.

Describing the allegations as laughable and deliberate publicity, the lawyer said that Dbanj, 42, is fully ready and willing to cooperate to the extent of the law that makes for the finding of the truth in this matter “which we take pretty seriously”.

“D’banj has no such access nor colluded with government officials over any dubious transaction. The allegation is a nightmare that must be dissipated by asserting the truth of D’banj’s unimpeachable innocence.

“As a matter of course, we now place a major demand on the oversight Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to immediately cause the release of the names of the government officials alleged to have colluded with D’banj, and the investigation of the same should be made public.” Mr Olajengbesi said.

He further demanded that the ministry make public the money alleged to have been traced to Dbanj’s account.

The legal representative also called on the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee to open a comprehensive investigation into the N-Power scheme through an open and all-free-entry public hearing without protecting any sacred cows.

“It is alarming and incongruous to design such an allegation against Dbanj, who does not have access to government accounts or government platforms, to have been alleged to have diverted such huge sums without any single government official in custody with him,” he added.

Mr Olajengbesi implored the Commission to bring Dbanj, known as ‘The Entertainer’, before a competent court with the necessary charges or release him while continuing their investigation.

Arrest and detention

Earlier, the ICPC confirmed that the singer had been arrested and is being held for questioning over alleged N-Power fraud.

In a statement signed by the Commission’s spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua, the body said that in line with its mandate, it had received numerous petitions on the diversion of N-Power funds running into billions of naira following the approval and release of such funds to the beneficiaries by the Federal Government.

She revealed that about ten persons have been invited by the ICPC over the last few months in connection with the N-Power fraud and have been granted administrative bail after detention.

“Mr Oyebanjo (D’banj) turned himself in and was taken into custody at the ICPC Headquarters on Tuesday, 6th of December, 2022, and is currently assisting the investigators in unravelling the circumstances of the fraud allegations by the petitioners.

“The investigation will be all-encompassing and extended to other collaborators of the fraud and the banks where the beneficiaries’ accounts are domiciled,” she said.

Dbanj broke into the mainstream Nigerian music scene in 2004 with the song, ‘Tongolo’, earning him the moniker, ‘The Kokomaster’.


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