How bankers aided pension fraudsters to push our old citizens into penury.

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After several delays and adjournments spurned by intrigues, unnecessary delays, scheming et al, on November 4, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, where Justice Kolawole holds sway, a Daniel will after all and finally come to Justice.

The courtroom as expected, would be filled to capacity, as it is the date when the pension suspected fraudsters will again keep a date to finally commence the definite hearing at the Justice Kolawole led Federal High Court, Abuja.

This time, and with the dawn of a new regime with the “change” mantra and its zero-tolerance for corruption, all eyes will now be on both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the judiciary to see whether justice will finally be served on Nigerian pensioners whose labour, reward, sweat, pain of hard work and service to their fatherland had been swindled and looted in millions of naira by the very cabal, entrusted with their well-being for their old age.

On that day, the who-is-who in the pension fraud game will appear to tell Nigerians how they beat the system to plunder the sweat and impoverished our old and senior citizens.

One of those that may cover their faces in shame for being a disgrace to their profession, family and generation is Udusegbe Omoefe Eric.

Employed by former Oceanic bank Plc (now Ecobank), Udusegbe Omoefe Eric rose through the ranks to become a bank manager. Having spent time and energy to rise in his chosen profession, he must have been lettered in the ethics of the business and also demonstrated thorough knowledge of the banking ethos part of which aided his promotion to such a plum banking position. But according to him and court documents sighted, he abused his position.

The ‘Know-your-Customer, (KYC)’system, is a strategy put in place by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN to enable the operators have a thorough knowledge of their customers so as to keep fraudsters and swindlers at bay.

Over the years however, the banking system has jettisoned this due to the competition to outwit others in the race for huge clientele base and to also deepen the banks’ bottom line. This was also relegated to the back burners due to the greed of operators who, overnight, desired to gain the attention of the Forbes Magazine on its list of richest men on the globe, albeit, through fraudulent activities.

But the bank, Oceanic got the type of leaders it deserved. Just like the bank, so also were the staff. Oceanic bank’s management was removed for fraudulent practices by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the former Central Bank Governor who did not only sack its top management but jailed the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru. This simply has shown that the banking system is no longer one to look up to and trusted for safe keeping of one’s wealth.

Udusegbe Omoefe Eric, a banker, turned upside down, the ethics of the profession and rather than nipping frauds, was aiding it. By time the bubble of the pension fraud got bursted, he had aided in the laundering of over N1.99 billion through fictitious companies and ghost pensioners.

To perfect his strategy for the heinous crime which he claimed was committed on behalf of Chidi Ukamaka Phina and Sani Shaibu Teidi, he used five fictitious firms registered by accomplices in the bank and a lawyer, Ogar M. Enyi, using fictitious names. Also handy are some Bureau de Change (BDC) operators through whom the money that was looted and later laundered, was converted to foreign currency.

The BDC operators are: HUssaini MOhammed, Aliyu Abubakar Kiruwa, Musa Mohammed, Sidi Gambo Umar, Alanemen Chukwuemeka Sylvester, El-Mustafa Yahaya and Bello Alhaji Minister

They all confessed to one thing – To have worked for Ukamaka Phina and Sani Shaibu Teidi.

Udusegbe Eric thought his strategy was foolproof until luck was exhausted and enquiries started streaming to Oceanic bank now Ecobank Plc from the EFCC. Between January 18, 2011 and May 12, 2011, the entire fraudulent transactions that fleeced a total of N1.99 billion were laid bare and a long litigation that could end up with a jail term became imminent.

It took a letter to Oceanic bank for enquiries about Gozinda Enterprises, and Bashinta Nigeria Ltd to reveal that N413.4 million, and N393 million were respectively paid to the two firms from the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) for fictitious contracts and supplies. Another N2.34 million was paid to Akpotehiri Otega, a ghost pensioner for pension arrears and gratuity.

Other conduit pipes deployed for the fraud scheme were three other fictitious firms namely – Haleath Enterprises, Uthahak NIgeria Ltd and Krasiva Nigeria Ltd. The three were fraudulently paid N384.162 million, N364.9 million and N396.9 million respectively. The funds were paid into the Oceanic Bank accounts of the above named BDCs who converted them to dollar denominated currencies and handed over to Udusegbe. These transactions were confirmed to the Commission by the then operations manager, Oyedeji Olutobi who allowed himself to be compromised.

Findings, according to the EFCC’s proof of evidence submitted to the Federal High Court Abuja in charge number FHC/ABJ/CR/28/2011 in the suit FG Vs Sani Teidi Shaibu showed that these were all fictitious firms concocted and registered by Udusegbe at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

“He confessed that he was one that handed the accounts to the account officers and that Know-Your-Customer (KYC) was never conducted as the owners of the accounts were fictitious,” according to the EFCC document.

The report went on to state “he further confessed that he was the one who registered the subject companies with CAC and opened the accounts with Oceanic in his branch. He also confessed that everything was done at the instance of Shaibu Sani Teidi who directed him to get accounts for him which was used for laundering of funds”.

To confirm the document’s claims was a search warrant obtained from the Magistrate Court Abuja and upon its execution on Udusegbe’s house at 54, 3 Drive, Prince and Princess Estate, Abuja on February 24, 2011, the Automated Teller MAchine (ATM) cards of the companies were recovered along with the payment mandates to these companies.

He would later change the cumbersome arrangement of using fictitious firms, ghost pensioners and accounts to a better one, through the use of the BDCs.

“Udusegbe Omoefe Eric confessed to have advised Dr Shaibu and Mrs Chidi to substitute the fictitious companies with some BDCs and remit payments from the OHCSF Pension account to the BDCs accounts who will give them dollars in exchange instead of the previous arrangement,” the court documents noted.

With the change in operational procedure, the EFCC document noted that, “on the directives of Udusegbe Omoefe, the operations manager, Oyedeji Olutobi admitted to have scouted for some BDCs operators accounts in Oceanic bank which include: Hussaini Mohammed account number 3501701700172, Aliyu Abubakar Kiruwa account. Umber 0421701700343, Musa Mohammed account number 1270001012704, Sidi Gambo Umar with account number 1261701200014, Alaneme Chukwuemeka Sylvester account number 0661701700173, El-Mustafa Yahaya account number 0291701200120, Bello Alhaji minister account number 1830001010401 and submitted them to Udusegbe Omoefe who was said to have forwarded same to Dr Shaibu at the OHCSF”.

The document read further “After payments were made, the BDCs operators paid the dollar equivalent of what was paid to them to Oyedeji Olutobi who remitted same to Udusegbe Eric who also confessed to have collected the funds and remitted same back to Shaibu Sani Teidi”.

Below is the analysis of the funds paid to the BDCs operators and which were converted to dollars. Some of the payment mandates for the transactions below were discovered to have been signed by both Ukamaka Chidi and Shaibu Teidi.

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Emmanuel Aderemi Olanipekun

Emmanuel, according to the Bible, the holy scriptures of the Christian faith means “God With Us”. At the Pension Office at the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), however, the name has entirely a different meaning. It depicts, “the thief in our midst”.

Such is how the greed in Emmanuel Aderemi Olanipekun, and his lust for money and filthy lucre changed the name that is highly revered, making him a disgrace to the Christendom.

Until the bubble burst on the pension scam that kept everyone wondering about the intrigues and the crooked machination, Emmanuel was the head, final accounts at the Head of Service, and one of the signatories to the pension office’s accounts.

By the time, the dust settled, Emmanuel had been linked to N2.5 billion looted from the pension office. All this happened in 11 months, specifically between June 2009 and April 2010.

Like others, he wove the frauds, using four fictitious companies, several bank accounts and several ghost pensioners to siphon the money away, and leaving the pensioners, who have served the country diligently to continue to wallow in penury.

One thing is common to all the pension fraudsters. They were all aided by the banking industry who threw away the caution as dictated by the KYC mechanism.

To loot the fund successfully, he was aided by GTB, First Bank and Intercontinental, now Access Bank. The fictitious firms included – Komobosco Integrated Services, FesBee Global Resources, MOF Investment Ltd and Moshfad Enterprises.

Other accomplices who collected pension gratuities without serving government are: Nze Ebibodere, Fadahunsi Moshood, Abass Babatunde, Olu John Folorunso and several others.

Analysis of several payments made out of the pension office accounts at the Head of Service during the period revealed that Emmanuel used five bank accounts one in GTB, one in First Bank and three in Intercontinental Bank (now Access Bank) into which a total N131,878,419.73 fictitious allowances were paid.

A breakdown of the amount shows N41,086,469.73 was paid into the Intercontinental Bank (Access) account number 0338001000004313 as well as N31,893,000.00 into another Intercontinental bank account number 0226001000001350. Into his GTB account number 325339032110 was paid N26,218,870.00 and into his First Bank account number 5062010021049 was deposited N32,680,080.00.

The payment raised suspicion and a search warrant dated November 25, 2010 that was obtained at an Abuja Magistrate’s court and executed on Emmanuel’s house at 32, 13th Crescent, Phase 2, Kano Estate, Abuja on January 13, 2011 revealed the unthinkable.

A computer with several payment mandates worth N2.5 billion was found. Emmanuel later confessed, according to the Court papers sighted by InsideBUSINESS that, “out of the N2.5 billion, he used Shell companies and proxies to collect over N1.070 billion which he confessed to have remitted to Madam Phina Chidi, sometimes directly or through Mr. Boniface Jirbo or Ikenna Anoruo”.

“Some of the accounts he also confessed to have used for the fraud included the following – Regina Ebibodere, Komobosco Integrated Services, FesBee Global Resources Ltd, MOF Investments ltd, and MoshFAd Enterprises”.

“The ghost pensioners were: Fadahunsi Moshood, Abass Babatunde, Olu John Folorunsho and several others,” the court documents revealed.

Nze Regina Ebibodere is a staff of the office of the Head of Service. However, scrutiny of Ebibodere’s GTB account number 3253410241101590 showed that N17.7 million was fraudulently paid while another N50,353,451.00 was paid into Ebibodere’s other account number 0287001000005644 at Intercontinental now Access bank.

“In total, she was fraudulently paid the total sum of N68,053,451.00 from OHCSF for fictitious collective allowance. Out of the proceeds of the crime, she collected, the total sum of N12.145 million, while N7.3 million was directly traced back to Emmanuel Olanipekun’s account number 0226001000001350 with Intercontinental Bank on February 8 and 9 2010 respectively”, EFCC noted in its submission to the court.

EFCC’s enquiries at FinBank Plc now FCMB about account number 337430000167601 maintained by Komobosco Integrated Services, and that of FesBee Global Resources account number 338430000238501also showed fraudulent payments of N28.5 million and N97.1 million respectively for fictitious contracts and supplies from Office of the Head of Service.

“The two companies into which these monies were paid are owned by one Festus Ederekumor currently at large,” the court papers noted.

From the total of N145.1 million looted into both Komobosco and FesBee, N15 million were traced to Nze Ebibodere’s accounts and some others to Emmanuel Olanipekun’s accounts.

From the lead at other banks, and confession by the accused, further enquiries at Oceanic bank now Ecobank, according to the EFCC shows that MOF Investments was paid N79.7 million, Fadahunsi Moshood Olatunde, a ghost pensioner was paid N4.4 million via account number 1741701200004 pension arrears and gratuity while another ghost pensioner, Abass Babatunde Onafowore was also paid N1.6 million for pension arrears and computer supplies.

Also from Sterling bank came revelations that MOF Investment was also paid another N154.6 million through his two account numbers 2153602150 and 21536024110 with the bank.

Both Babatunde Lawal and Akeem Akala of Intercontinental bank, now Access bank in their response of February 16, 2011 to the enquiries of January 18, 2011 by Wakili Mohammed on behalf of the commission showed  that N131 million was also paid to Moshfad Enterprises’ account number 0239118000000245 for fictitious contracts and supplies. Another fraudulent payment, according to the EFCC was the sum of N4.75 million into Fadahunsi Moshood Olatunde’s account 0239115000005626.

Upon invitation by the EFCC, Fadahunsi Moshood Olatunde admitted to the fraud and that of the ownership of MOF Investments and Moshfad Enterprises and also confessed, according to the commission’s documents at the court to have collected the funds from his companies and remitted to Emmanuel Olanipekun Aderemi through his Emmanuel’s accounts.

“Fadahunsi further furnished with the duplicate copy of the tellers he used in depositing the proceeds of the crime back to Olanipekun’s accounts, while a transfer of the total sum of N344,998,000.00 was traced to Olanipekun’s accounts from his companies”, EFCC documents to the court stated.

From First bank came the name of Olu John Folorunsho, another cohort of Olanipekun who was, according to the court papers, paid N2.5 million, another fictitious payment as allowances from OHCSF.

“From Olanipekun’s confessional statement, he admitted to have collected all the monies paid to his cohorts fraudulently from OHCSF. He further stated that he remitted the proceeds of the crime to Mrs. Phina Ukamaka Chidi through Mr. Boniface Jirbo of UBA plc and Mr. Ikenna Anoruo of Zenith Bank plc, (both managers) this has been corroborated by them that some of the payment mandates used in executing the above fraudulent transactions were discovered to have been signed by Mrs P.U. Chidi, Dr. Shaibu S. Teidi, Barr. Garba Tahir, Etu A.D and M.K Ahmed.

Musa Bala Sadauki

Many who have heard of it have simply described it as ‘untoward’, insisting that it is only in Nigeria that such untoward fraudulent practices could manifest. It is only in Nigeria that a Youth Corper who has not tasted employment or work for any organisation will collect pension and gratuity.

It is only in this country that someone who is in active service will collect pension and gratuity. It is only in Nigeria that a staff will award contracts from the office to himself, what an abuse of position!

So many of such rots happened in Nigeria’s civil service unchecked and these have continued to make the country and her citizens, laughing stocks. So is the case of Musa Bala Sadauki, a civil servant who, while in service, collected pension and gratuity and also used his position to get contracts from the same office where he served and while he was in service.

Musa Bala is the owner of City Tervern, Mus Jan Sah Enterprises and A.S Integrated Systems. Through these three companies, he got the N40.2 million from the Office of Head of the Civil Service of the Federation OHCSF for fictitious contracts and supplies.

The same Musa Bala Sadauki collected N5.2 million from the OHCSF as pension and gratuity while also still in service.

Such is the legacy that the highly positioned civil servants are bestowing on the coming generations.

All of these came to light when the bubble burst on the heinous crime, the pension scam in the office of the Head of service.

The devilish acts of the likes of Musa, like others, were aided by greedy and fraudulent bankers who also compromised the ethics of the profession, throwing away the Know-Your-Customers KYC, to fleece the pensioners of the funds that would have taken care of them in their old age when they would have exhausted their strength.

It all started with the enquiries to the banks and information about his heinous crimes, before revelations began to filter in. First was the letter to UBA on May 3, 2011, and the bank’s response on May 16, 2011 about Mus Jah Sah Enterprises revealed that it got N900,000 for fictitious contracts and supplies.

Enquiries at Diamond bank also confirmed the suspicion. In the A.S Integrated Systems account number 0772010007523 was paid N891,000,  Mus Jah Sah Enterprises’ account number 0191010023690  was paid N19.7 million and City Tervern account number 0412010012627 got N18.7 million. The payments were all fraudulently contrived.

While spilling the beans, he confessed that, “the payments were made into his accounts by Dr Shaibu and Mrs Chidi and it was the money with which he purchased vehicles for them. The total sum of N28.5 million was given to him through Mr Henry O. Anuforo, Skye bank MAnager which he also confirmed, adding that, it was part of the withdrawal from OHCSF account on the instruction of Mrs. Chidi.

How Charles Bonat, OHCSF Nailed Pension Accused Persons.

Like the popular moral refrain, “everyday is for the thief, but one day is for the owner of the stolen items”.

The flurry of revelations and the mind boggling amounts involved got everybody confused and worried, and Charles Bonat, the permanent secretary, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation OHCSF had to be called-in and asked for clarifications. His response of December 28, 2011 was however a very interesting and fire-spitting one – it nailed all those involved in the scam at the primary level in the first instance.

From Shaibu, the director, Pension office, to Phina U. Chidi, the deputy-director and to the lowest cadre officer in the fraudulent conspiracy, “the OHCSF was unable to trace any documents on the transactions and retirements made by the accused,” he simply submitted.

Earlier, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) in a letter signed by O.O. Adeola on May 17, 2011 had dropped a bombshell that made all the transactions criminal.

“The OHCSF was never given any exemption with respect to compliance with the e-payment directive”.

With this letter, it is expected that all the payments made in respect of collective allowances to the individual staff of OHCSF were illegal, as no staff was to collect any payment on behalf of other staff except through the accounts of the actual beneficiaries.

On response in the same letter of December 2011 from Charles Bonat to enquiries on the list of the companies involved in the scam, the details of the total fraudulent payments from OHCSF for fictitious contracts and supplies, the details of the services rendered by the companies and items supplied, tenders board approval, Certificate of No objection of the Bureau of PUblic Procurement and other relevant documents made the entire transaction more criminal.

“There was never a tender’s board committee that was set up for the contracts, neither did they make any supply to the OHCSF, nor Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval, no payment vouchers,” said Charles Bonat and this was quoted in the EFCC’s submission to the court.

Charles Bonat, the Permanent secretary overseeing the Pension Unit in his statement to the EFCC on December 22, 2011 noted “for the payment made to the suspected staff of the OHCSF for collective allowances, fraudulent payments to ghost pensioners and the fictitious payment of contracts and supplies to the fraudulent companies, they were all illegally paid by Dr. Shaibu Sani Teidi without his (Bonat) approval as the permanent secretary who is the approving authority for such payments”.

Bonat supported his claims with some reports from Oludare Medayedupin, the Internal auditor who had earlier complained against payments from the pension office which were not vetted by auditor.

“It was because of these violations that Shaibu was posted out of the OHCSF “.

To be continued.

AUTHOR: InsideBUSINESS

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