An acting governor is at the top of the list of suspects being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged fraud N6,549,942,637.14 in an arms deal.
Also under scrutiny are former Kogi state governor Captain Idris Wada, former Skye Bank president Tunde Ayeni, retired air deputy marshal Salihu Atawodi and four others.
The alleged fraud was perpetrated by the defunct Presidential Committee on Maritime Safety Implementation, PICOMS, chaired by Atawodi.
About N4.9 billion of cash is said to have disappeared from PICOMS accounts, with no specific project in mind.
It is alleged that the acting governor received N1.475.144.199,15 of the money withdrawn, with the aim of lobbying members of the Chamber of Deputies to convert PICOMS into an agency. The proposed name was Maritime Security Agency.
The governor was the chairman of the House's National Security, Intelligence and Public Security Committee at the time, and he would have convinced Atawodi's PICOMS to participate in the money. The amount received was so secret that a former president received a "ridiculous N1 million" as his share.
Some former members of the Chamber of Deputies who have benefited from the Governor's money for bribery on account may be asked to be questioned.
Sources said the governor was initially cooperating with the EFCC in the investigation, only to stop honoring the anti-graft agency's invitation two days before he was declared elected by the Supreme Court.
He currently enjoys immunity from prosecution by virtue of his position, but can still be tried after his term. The remaining seven main suspects are expected to be brought to court soon.
They include Mrs. Winifred Atawodi, Aeroconsult Limited, Xanatos Limited and a daughter of former PICOMS president Eleojo, who is under investigation. The EFCC has already blocked the following amounts in Ms. Winifred Atawodi's accounts: N141.611.736.8 and $ 228,428.16 Another million N200 was placed at Post No Debit, PND, at First Mutual Micro-Finance Bank, located at Purple Pepper Farms Limited, allegedly owned by Atawodi's daughter, Eleojo.
About five hectares of land worth N245 million were seized from the Atawodis. EFCC also discovered how $ 6.12 millions were invested by the Atawodis account with Midland Corporate Investment Limited, with Sun Trust Savings and Loans Real Estate Limited.
Of the money, AVM Atawodi reportedly transferred $ 408,000 transferred to an auto company in the United States, called Hennessy Cadillac, to exotic vehicles, including a Rolls Royce. About $ 808,851 was located at Wells Fargo Bank 2, on behalf of United International Enterprises.
Detectives identified a house allegedly owned by Atawodi in Lot in the 17th District of Fulton County, Georgia, at 3266 Ferncliff Lane, Atlanta Georgia 30324. Despite the seizure of Atawodis passports, one of the daughters applied to travel abroad for treatment doctor in order to sell the house in Atlanta.
The EFCC has also been alerted by some collaborating foreign anti-fraud agencies to a daughter's plan to sell the house. The investigation revealed that PICOMS was created between 2008 and 2012. It was dissolved in 2013. The Committee was expected to guarantee safety at sea and on waterways.
The detectives' findings revealed that AVM Atawodi, his immediate friends and family, were delighted with the resources allocated to PICOMS, including funds from donor agencies. Other PICOMS funders were the Office of the National Security Advisor, ONSA, NIMASA, Nigeria's National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and the Ministry of Defense, MOD.
A top EFCC source said: “When we invited former Kogi state governor, Captain Idris Wada, for questioning, he insisted that the contract was well executed. But we detected evidence of transfers to AUSWEE, which suggests that the hangar contract was inflated. The former governor and Aeroconsult have more questions to answer, especially when new transfers were made in 2018 and 2019, to AVM Atawodi. "
With regard to the acting governor, the source added: “The N1.475.144.199,15 was converted into dollars and handed over to the governor, when he was a member of the Chamber of Deputies. The owner of Bureau De Change used by the PICOMs, Sharif Shanono, was interrogated and provided evidence of transactions. We also note that on 12/21/2011, about N250 million were transferred from the PICOMS account to the Saab Global Links Limited account 1012330930, owned by Shanono.
"We were on the case before the election of the governor was validated by the Supreme Court. In fact, he was supposed to appear before our detectives two days for the Supreme Court trial, but he stayed away to await the verdict and avoid being arrested.
“While examining the records, the detectives were able to confirm how a minimum N1 million was given to a former president of the Chamber of Deputies. Now that the governor has immunity, we have to wait until 2023, when he finishes his term before resuming his investigation and trial. We are likely to invite some former members of the House who have benefited from the bribe money on account. The bill had the title: “Maritime Safety Agency Bill, MASECA, 2010, to transform PICOMS into an agency. So far, seven of the eight suspects involved in this fraud can be tried. "