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EFCC Arraigns Ex-Governor, Kwara Ex-Finance Commissioner for N1.22bn Fraud

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The Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday April 29, 2024 arraigned a former Commissioner for Finance in Kwara State, Ademola Banu before Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin over alleged money laundering and misappropriation of state funds to the tune of N1.22billion.

The defendant was alleged to have among sundry issues conspired to divert the said sum during the administration of governor Abdulfatah Ahmed between May 2011 and May 2019 when he served as the Commissioner for Finance.

Banu was to be arraigned alongside his principal, former governor Abdulfatah on February 23, 2024, but when the case came up, he was absent in court and had no legal representation, prompting the court to issue a bench warrant against him upon the application by counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN.

The court, on the said date, took the plea of the former governor Abdulfatah on the 12-count charge preferred against him and his finance commissioner by the EFCC and adjourned till Monday, April 29, 2024, while ordering the prosecution to produce Banu for trial.

At the resumed sitting on Monday, the two defendants – Abdulfatah Ahmed and Ademola Banu, who were listed as first and second defendant in the charge, were present in court.

When the case was called, A. A. Ajibade, SAN announced appearance for Abdulfatah, Gboyega Oyewole, SAN for Banu, while the prosecution team was led by Rotimi Jacobs, SAN.

Jacobs informed the court that the second defendant who was unavailable at the last sitting when his co-traveler, Abdulfatah was arraigned, was finally in court to take his plea.

“My Lord, at the last adjournment, the first defendant (governor Abdulfatah) took his plea, but the second defendant (Banu) was not available in court that day, causing your lordship to issue a bench warrant against him”.

“Following the order of the court, counsel to the second defendant called me and explained that he would produce his client before the court today, which he has done. I pray the court to allow the charge to be read to him”, he said.

In response, Banu’s counsel, Oyewole prayed the court to discharge the bench warrant earlier issued against his client, which Jacobs did not oppose.

In a short ruling, Justice Anyadike vacated the bench warrant on the second defendant, setting the stage for his arraignment. Therefore, he was ordered to enter the dock to take his plea.

Count three of the charge reads:
“That you, ABDULFATAH AHMED (while being the Governor of Kwara State) and ADEMOLA BANU (while being the Commissioner of Finance of Kwara State), between January and December 2018 in Ilorin, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired between yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of
N411,000,000 (Four Hundred and Eleven Million Naira) property of Kwara State Government meant for the provision of security in Kwara State, which sum you reasonably ought to have known was a proceed of an unlawful act, to wit; theft/fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”
The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to him.

Following his plea, Oyewole, SAN, moved a motion for the bail of his client. He prayed the court to grant the application on liberal terms citing the medical conditions of the client as reasons.

Jacobs however did not oppose the application in view of the earlier ruling.

Justice Anyadike admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N20million with two sureties in like sum, who must have landed property within the jurisdiction of the court. The sureties must deposit three passport photographs with the court’s registrar. The sureties must also produce evidence of payment of electricity bills for the last three months.

Furthermore, the judge ordered that the sum of N5million must be paid as bond into the litigation account of the Federal High Court by the defendant, which will be returned to him after the final determination of the case, but forfeited to the Federal Government in the event the defendant jumps bail.

The judge also ordered the defendant to deposit his international passport with the court, adding that the defendant must not travel without the permission of the court, but may apply to get it on medical grounds if the need arises. Thereafter, the judge ordered the defendant to be remanded in the custody of the EFCC pending the perfection of his bail conditions.
The case has been adjourned to June 25 and 26, 2024 for trial.

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Crime

Police Invades Ondo PDP Guber Candidate, Agboola Ajayi’s Lagos Home Over Forgery And Perjury (Video)

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The Gubernatorial Candidate of Peoples’ Democratic Party, for the forthcoming Governorship Election in Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi has been alleged of illegally occupying a Building property which is the beneficial property by purchase, of Segzyadet Integrated Ltd.The property is 5-Bedroom Duplex with Boys’ Quarter situate at 14B Abimbola Okulaja close, Lekki Phase1, Lagos Nigeria.

Segzyadet Integrated Ltd claimed it has purchased the said property through public bidding/auction, in 2023 and since then the occupant of the property who is Alfred Agboola Ajayi has refused to vacate the property, thereby inhibiting the occupation of it by the new owner.On Monday 6th of May when Newsmen were visited the premises to access the situation, it was discovered that the said occupant is still living therein. What is more, the staff of Segzyadet Integrated Ltd in the presence of Police Officers, were prevented from entering the Building premises.It took the effort of someone who came over and intervened before Journalists gained access into the premises.Speaking with Newsmen, Segzyadet Integrated Ltd CEO, Adetuwo Oluwasegun said the said Occupant of the building has refused to vacate the premises despite several notifications, in a manner that smacks of impunity.Check the video:https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMMW8ReAbHe said the occupant is leveraging on his connections as a politician to frustrate the Company from having quiet possession and occupation of the property. He called on all relevant Authorities to rise up to the occasion and call Alfred Agboola Ajayi to order.According to a reliable source, AGBOOLA AJAYI was said to have been using his father’s inlaw name as pseudo in most of his dealings including this particular property.The police has gotten confessional statement from the father in-law who denied his involvement in all the deals traced to him including the affidavit he was alledged to have disposed to.

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Wema Bank Fined N61.4m After breaching 7 Nigerian Laws

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WEMA Bank found itself on the wrong side of 7 Nigerian laws in 2023, paying penalties totalling N61.350 million in one year.

This was revealed in the bank’s full-year 2023 financial statement, which showed that the lender contravened a cybersecurity law, a section of the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) circulars on Know Your Customers, among others.

On the cybersecurity framework contravention, Wema Bank received a fine of N2 million, but the lender was fined N20 million for breaching Section 19(3A) of BOFIA, 2020.

Also, Wema Bank was made to pay N17.45 million for violating the CBN circulars on KYC.

The bank further paid a fine of N10 million for the late rendition of final returns. The CBN circulars on KYC were targeted at reducing money laundering and other forms of financial crimes.

“There is no doubt that having sufficient information about your customer and making use of that information is the most effective weapon against being used to launder the proceeds of crime.

In addition to minimizing the risk of being used for illicit activities, it provides protection against fraud, reputational and

financial risks and enables individual financial institutions to recognize suspicious activities,” the CBN says in its KYC manual.

Similarly, the bank paid a penalty of N8 million for Risk-Based Supervision (RBS) breaches. The lender was likewise penalised for a regulatory breach on the CBN clearance, paying a fine of N2 million for the contravention.

For the late filing of its 2022 audited financial statements with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), the tier-2 lender was fined N1.9 million.

Fraud and burglary lower but still risks

Fraud and burglary are still big risks for the bank, which lost N256.387 million to them in 2023. However, this was far lower than N880.154 million lost by the bank in fraud and burglary cases in the corresponding period of 2022.

This would mean that the bank took some measures to tackle fraud and theft in 2023, said a credit risk analyst, Mr Osai Djemba.

Mr Djemba explained that the bank “must introduce artificial intelligence measures to reduce its exposure to theft to the barest minimum,” arguing that “sophisticated thieves and several criminals have infiltrated the Nigerian financial system to steal, kill and destroy.”

Complainants demand N10.8bn

Wema Bank left 9,974 complaints unresolved by December 2023. This is lower than 13,642 unresolved complaints reported in the corresponding period of 2022.

Various customers with these complaints demanded N10.843 billion from the lender over the issues.

The bank, however, refunded N11.258 billion to customers (apart from the N10.843 billion), the financial statement said.

“As a result of the initiatives stated earlier, the Bank successfully reduced the average time taken to resolve customer complaints by 60% compared to 2022, and the resolution rate increased from 93% to 98% demonstrating our commitment to improving the experience of our customers consistently and efficiently, the bank noted.

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Crime

Contract Scam: EFCC Arraigns Kwara Businessman Alexander Adeniran Babatunde for N170m

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The Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Monday, February 5, 2024, arraigned a businessman, Alexander Adeniran Babarinde from Oro-Ago in Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State over alleged involvement in a contract scam, obtaining money under false pretence and forgery.Babarinde was arraigned by the EFCC, alongside his company, Ajays Engineering Limited and one Suleiman Muhammed, (who is currently at large) before Justice Mahmud Abdulgafar of the Kwara State High Court in Ilorin on eight–count charges bordering on obtaining under false pretences.

The defendants allegedly obtained several amounts of money from the complainant under the guise of funding and executing some Federal Government contracts.The petitioner alleged that Babarinde brought some contract awards letters from the Ecological Fund Management Committee Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Development, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina Universal Basic Education Commission, National Research Institute for Chemical Technology. But, findings by the EFCC revealed that the letters were forged and never emanated from the said government agencies.

It was gathered that the defendants had obtained money to the tune of N170 million from the petitioner as capital to execute the non-existent contracts. All attempts to recover the money however proved abortive.Count three of the charges against him reads: “That you, ALEXANDER ADENIRAN BABARINDE, AJAYS ENGINEERING LIMITED and SULEIMAN MOHAMMED (STILL AT LARGE), sometime between the months of January 2021 and December 2021, in Ilorin Kwara State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, did obtain the sum of N30,530,300.00 (Thirty Million, Five Hundred and Thirty Thousand, Three Hundred Naira ) from one EZEKIEL OLA BABATUNDE as fees for the funding and execution of Federal Government contracts and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act”.Count four of the charges read: “That you, ALEXANDER ADENIRAN, BABARINDE, AJAYS ENGINEERING LIMITED and SULEIMAN MOHAMMED (STILL AT LARGE), sometime between January 2022 and December 2022, in Ilorin, Kwara State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud did obtain the sum of N6,655,009.00 (SIX MILLION, SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FIVE THOUSAND NAIRA) from one EZEKIEL OLA BABATUNDE as fees for the funding and execution of Federal Government contracts and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offence Act, 2006 and Punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act”.

The defendant pleaded not guilty to all the charges when they were read to him.Following his plea, counsel to the EFCC, Rasheedat Alao, urged the court to remand the defendant (Babarinde) in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service and give a date for trial to enable the prosecution to prove its case.Justice Abdulgafar ordered that the defendant be remanded at the Correctional Service and adjourned the case till March 13, 2024 for trial.

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