.. Serving Youth Corper collected over N34 million as pension and gratuity.
Are women still the weaker vessel?
The Bible, the holy scriptures of the Christian faith, describes women as weak, emotional and easily susceptible.
Contrasting the Biblical description, recent developments have shown daring moves by women, treading where men dare not. Nowadays, women, just like men, are into untoward activities in the quest for power, money and position.
This has also played out in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation where a woman, wove deceitful tactics, lured and influenced men to rob pensioners of their hard earned sweat in her desperate lust for filthy lucre.
As a respectable government official on whose shoulders was the huge responsibility of catering for our old citizens who have diligently served the nation and waiting for the fruits of their labour, Chidi Ukamaka Phina, a woman and mother of children, from who she plans to reap from in her own old age until the bubble burst was the Deputy Director at the Pensions Finance and Account at the Office of the Head Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF).
Chidi Ukamaka Phina was also a signatory to the pension accounts. She was perceived as a ‘Big Madam’ in the Nigerian local parlance and all who knew her and were associated with her one way or the other wormed their ways into her and differed to her. It was no surprise that she was even treated and regarded as a semi-god even within the banking circle.
The situation, therefore, expectedly was no different on the cold Thursday morning when she sauntered into (Oceanic Bank now Ecobank), Wema Bank and UBA to transact a large volume of business with them.
Although, it wasn’t Chidi Ukamaka Phina’s first time of moving large volumes of money into these banks and at different times and dates, she was indeed a prized customer of note to these banks and their officials, who ever calculative of what to reap from the huge volume of the amounts involved, without minding the impact on the nation and its old citizens, threw away caution, and assisted her in defiance of the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) which required that a bank do a thorough check on its customers to prevent fraudsters.
By the time the transactions ended, Chidi Ukamaka Phina who was also known according to various bank documents as – Ify Chidi and Cecilia Maduagwuna had opened about eight different accounts in the name of five firms, namely – Ijez Global Resources, Figure International Agency, Obiz Ventures, Cenco Ventures and Pam Investment Properties.
Not satisfied, she recruited other cohorts who opened additional bank accounts, using fictitious and fraudulent companies to fleece the pension department of billions of money in Naira and foreign currency. In all, over 16 bank accounts were opened using over 16 non-existing and active companies through which money was paid out for fictitious contracts and supplies.
Also of note in this national scam was Ikenna Anuruo through whom six ghost pensioners – Grace Onyema, Goddy Mbagwu, Kellu Sulaiman, Aminu Yakubu, Daniel Agada and Akomah Jane were recruited.
Another laughable aspect is that of Chinwe Natsha Nweke Ezeh, a Youth Corper serving in Lagos as at that time, who was paid over N34 million as pension and gratuity.
For Ijez Global Resources, she opened two accounts in Oceanic now Ecobank. The account numbers were 0621101007221 and 3991101004712.
Her accounts in Wema Bank were – 0771030597512 (Figure International Agency), 0771029825714 for Obiz Ventures and Cenco Ventures with account number 0771029969511. Pam Investment Properties had two accounts with UBA -04970030002472 which was a current account and the other, 04970131001596, was a domiciliary account.
One thing however, was common to all the firms and the bank accounts, they were all fictitious, opened with forged documents and credentials aided by the corrupt bankers.
Chidi Ukamaka Phina, wove the scam around different cohorts with fictitious bank accounts to loot the Pension Fund dry. Interestingly, as you read this story, Chidi Phina is still a free woman despite the huge evidences and witnesses that have confessed to aiding her in the heinous crime.
For instance, Phina U. Chidi falsified documents at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to register Ijez Global Resources in the name of Ify Chidi according to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) documents titled ‘Proof of evidence’ submitted to a Federal High Court in Abuja in the suit FHC/ABJ/CR/28/2011, FG v Sani Teidi Shaibu & 29 others.
According to the documents sighted by insideBusiness, the EFCC further underlined her deceit in another account number 074030030317 in Wema Bank with the name, Cecilia Maduagwuna. She modified the name to become Cecilia Maduagwuna Phina to enable her register at CAC the three additional companies mentioned above – Figure International Agency, Obiz Ventures and Cenco Enterprises.
Ijez Global accounts number 0621101007221 and 3991101004712 with Oceanic Bank, now Ecobank Plc according to Jibrin Idrisu, her former account officer, were also opened with a drivers’ license with her picture on the mandate card in the name of Ify Chidi.
A check by the EFCC at the Federal Road Safety Corps FRSC regarding the drivers’ license with which she opened the Wema and Oceanic bank accounts with the name, Ify Chidi and Cecilia Maduagwuna shows they were also forged.
These fraudulent acts have again brought to the fore, the role of the banking industry who have now exposed to all, their complicity in the several frauds and forgeries that have continued to paint the country black.
Computation of figures from the various bank statements of the fraudulent companies, according to the EFCC revealed that a total of N283,082,049.00 was paid to the four companies from the OHCSF for fictitious contracts and supplies.
The breakdown shows that N32,607,432.00 was paid into Ijez Global Resources, N88,336,604.00 to Figure International Agency, N80,233,631.00 to Obiz Ventures and N81,904,382.00 to Cenco Enterprises.
Of the total amount, the following were in fixed deposits in the different companies’ bank accounts. N77,785,344.42 was in fixed deposit in Figure International Agency, N25,504,796.73 in Obiz Ventures, and N27,546,748.05 in Cenco Ventures.
Also, N6,400,000.00, N47,200,000.00 and N54,200,000.00 were transferred from Figure International Agency account, Obiz Ventures account and Cenco Enterprises accounts respectively to Cecilia Maduagwuna’s account. Equally in fixed deposit in Cecilia Maduagwuna’s at Wema Bank was found N80,551,216.60.
Below are some other individuals and corporate entities used by Chidi Ukamaka Phina to perfect the scam.
1. BONIFACE JIRBO
He was a branch manager of UBA Plc Maitama Abuja at the time. Rather than uphold the etiquette of global banking best practices, where trust is paramount, he allowed himself to be used against those that have exhausted their youthful energies, sweat and toil to build this country and are now at the mercy of these mindless pension managers.
For his gain, Boniface Jirbo is today, the sole owner of Newgate Energy Ltd, Redwings Energy Ltd. And Redwings Procurement Services Ltd used as one of the conduit pipes through which the millions of Naira was fleeced.
Enquiries at UBA on Newgate Project Ltd acct No. 1040078025 and Redwings Procurement Services Ltd acct No. 1040603294; and GTB over Redwings Energy Ltd acct No. 340097-5-110 confirm the culpability of Boniface, according to the EFCC report showed that Newgate Energy Ltd, Redwings Energy Ltd. And Redwings Procurement Services Ltd were fraudulently paid the total sum of N81,024,300.00, N26,730,950.00 and N39,016,002.00 respectively from the OHCSF for fictitious contracts and supplies.
Further enquiries were made at UBA in respect of J.K Palawinco Nig Ltd acct No. 04970030001570 and Effect Services Ltd acct No. 00520030002800 respectively, and it was discovered that these were accounts of a client of the bank who, until the lid was broken was unaware that his accounts were being used by the fraudulent banker.
These discoveries prompted the arrest of Boniface Jirbo, and the execution of a search warrant obtained from a Magistrate’s Court of F.C.T, Abuja on his UBA Plc, Usuma Street, Maitama Branch office revealed several dubious acts Jirbo had been perpetrating.
Several deposit slips that were used to make deposits into Pam Investment Properties in addition to mandate file of Pam Investment Ltd were recovered from his office.
It was then that Pam Investment was discovered to have both current and domiciliary accounts with UBA and after which Boniface confessed to have remitted the total sum of N146,771,252.00 to Chidi Phina through Pam Investment Properties account with UBA from the monies fraudulently paid to his companies. He claimed to have benefited 5 per cent of the total sum which amounts to N7,338,562.60.
Boniface also confessed to have used several of his customers’ various company bank accounts: Effect Services Ltd and J.K Palawinco Nigeria Ltd to collect the total sum of N116,525,000.00 and N105,100,000.00 respectively for fictitious contracts from OHCSF. Boniface claimed the money was withdrawn and deposited into Pam Investment and Properties account.
Boniface further confessed to have collected funds from other cohorts – namely; Ikenna Anoruo, Franklin Okey Nwankwo and Emmanuel Olanipekun several times on behalf of Phina Chidi and deposited same into Pam Investment Properties Limited account using fictitious names.
The discovery of deposit slips from Boniface Jirbo for the deposits into Pam Investment Properties Ltd prompted another letter to UBA Plc requesting for all the relevant documents on the account.
The outcome of the request from UBA confirmed that the idea by Pam Investment Properties to have a current account No. 04970030002472 and a domiciliary account No. 04970131001596 was from Boniface to assist in laundering the money offshore.
Analysis of the current account revealed a turnover of about Five hundred and sixty million Naira only or N560 million while the domiciliary account had $2.150 million or Two million, one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
Further enquiries at UBA also showed that $500 million and $2 million were placed in fixed deposit in the two accounts respectively; but which the EFCC has obtained an interim forfeiture order to secure.
Upon intense grilling, Boniface disclosed more that Pam Investment Properties accounts were opened by Phina Chidi who used an elderly woman’s passport photograph while, Chidi, herself remains the sole signatory to the accounts. The purported account owner was said to be Cecilia Maduagwuna which is the same name that Chidi used in opening her personal account with Wema Bank Plc with her picture and forged drivers’ license on the account opening package.
A track of the account showed that N6,900,000.00 was transferred to Maduagwuna Cecilia’s account at Wema Bank Plc from Pam Investment Properties Ltd.
A thoroughly shaken Boniface Jirbo, in additional confessional notes squealed that deposits into the current account were from the monies collected from Emmanuel Olanipekun, Franklin Okey Nwankwo, Ikenna Anoruo, his own payments from OHCSF and the companies he used.
A thorough scrutiny of the account showed that he made deposits of N10 million and N25 million into the account on July 28, 2009, and afterwards used fictitious names with those fictitious deposit slips recovered during a search warrant on his office.
Regarding Pam Investment Properties accounts, he revealed that N70, 710,000.00 were laundered through another Cecilia Maduagwuna’s account No. 03260520120047 with UBA Plc.
Now reading more like a classic crime reality show script, InsideBusiness investigations showed that this was another Cecilia Maduagwuna, a totally different person from the other Cecilia Maduagwuna who opened the Pam Investment Properties Ltd and the fictitious accounts with Wema Bank Plc, which was discovered to be Chidi Phina.
Transfers orchestrated from Pam Investments by Boniface included N40 million – discovered to have been laundered through one Iloabachile Thompson and Uche with accounts with Zenith Bank Plc Acct. No. 6024306501 from Cecilia Maduagwuna’s account No. 03260520120047 with UBA Plc.
Chidi, according to EFCC’s proof of evidence in the court later owned up to the several fraudulent payments and admitted to have collected monies from Stanley Iwu, Olanipekun Emmanuel and Ikenna Anoruo, sometimes directly or through Boniface Jirbo (UBA Bank Manager).
She also admitted ownership and opening of Pam Investment Properties account with UBA Plc with a woman’s picture which she claimed to be her mother, just as she confessed being the sole signatory to the account. Before her confession, the EFCC had made efforts to contact the purported owner of the account, Pam Investment Properties, Cecilia Maduagwuna through the caretaker and other tenants at Carter Plaza, Suite D104, Adetokumbo Ademola Crescent, Opp. Kiss FM, Wuse 2, Abuja, the purported address.
Now like a fish out of the river, she further confessed to have fraudulently collected the funds from OHCSF through her fictitious companies and handed them over to Ikenna.
Another letter to Zenith Bank over O.G Fortunes Nig. Ltd. and Fair winds Travels & Tours revealed that the two companies that respectively collected N9,700,000.00 and N4,850,000.00 from the Head of Service, belongs to a customer of Ikenna.
Further enquiries at Zenith Bank revealed that another friend of Ikenna Anoruo, Miss Chinwe Ezeh, a Youth Corper serving in Lagos as at May 2011 was also discovered to have collected N8,539,332.09 from OHCSF as pension arrears and gratuity, while the total sum of N13.8 million and N12.6 million were fraudulently paid to her companies Challyview Enterprises and Chineze Nig Ltd respectively.
From Zenith Bank on 27 May 2011 in a response signed by Ademola Ajayi and Chamberlain Okezie to enquiries from EFCC, more disgusting revelations came to the fore. Upon the strength of these revelations, Miss Chinwe Natsha Nweke Ezeh was invited to EFCC and under caution on 13 April 2011, confessed that Ikenna was the one who used the account for the fraudulent transactions.
More enquiries at Zenith Bank came even more disclosures that Ikenna Anoruo opened six (6) fictitious accounts with Zenith Bank in the name of Grace Onyema, Goddy Mbagwu, Kellu Suliman, Aminu Yakubu, Daniel Agada, and Akomah Jane through which N7, 473,012.84, N17,411,637.58, N12,901,663.71, N14, 241,000.00, N28,515,545.20 and N22,876,504.33 respectively were fraudulently credited to the amounts from OHCSF as pension arrears and gratuity.
Investigations showed that the account addresses were vague, even as calls placed to the numbers provided by the fictitious pensioners did not connect. Ikenna later confessed that the account owners were ghost pensioners and all, fictitious.
He candidly told EFCC he was responsible for the fraudulently opened accounts and also signed for collection of their cheque books from Zenith Bank Plc according to Ademola Ajayi and Chamberlain Okezie who responded to enquiries sent by David Iloyanomon of the EFCC.
Ikenna stated that whenever monies were paid from OHCSF into the ghost pensioners’ accounts, he promptly used the cheques in his possession to make withdrawals for remittance to Phina Chidi and Stanley Iwu, who introduced him to Chidi.
Not done, he disclosed to have used all the accounts listed above to commit the fraud and claimed to have burnt the cheque books when the Commission commenced investigation. He nonetheless agreed to have benefited 5 percent of the total sum only. Investigations meanwhile revealed that, once payments were received from the OHCSF through the fraudulent accounts he was operating, he withdrew the money or transferred same to the accounts being operated by Stanley Iwu and Musa Bala Sadauki.
Ikenna further confessed to have collected some funds from Emmanuel Olanipekun on several occasions on behalf of Phina Chidi and remit same to her through Boniface Jirbo.
Another conduit pipe was Zumba Resources Ltd with Zenith Bank accounts No. 6310300078 and 6210303675 which enquiries from the bank showed that the total sum of N208,382,365.46 was fraudulently paid into both Zumba Resources Ltd. from OHCSF for fictitious contracts and supplies.
Also was Traore Ventures Ltd also with accounts at Zenith Bank and which the bank had disclosed of fraudulent payment of N164,206,546.45 from OHCSF for fictitious contracts and supplies. The accounts for Zumba Resources and Traore Ventures Ltd were among the fraudulent accounts discovered to have been opened by Ikenna, who was the same person the cheque books were released to by the Bank.
To be continued.