An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC investigator, Hammadama Bello, has described as untrue claims that he demanded N96m bribes from former bankers, standing trial for allegedly defrauding the Central Bank of Nigeria in mutilated currency scam, in order to release them on bail.
Three former bankers, Ayodele Adeyemi, Ishaq Akano and Ajiwe Adegoke had in separate affidavit deposed to at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State and published in an online platform, alleged that Mr Bello, an operative of the EFCC, asked them to raise N96 million to be set free.
The trio, who are among ex-bankers indicted in a mutilated currency scam which investigation commenced in November 2014, alleged that for their inability to meet the bribe demand, the said Bello orchestrated their detention in a ‘German Cell’ in Abuja and forcefully seized their properties, claiming he had been collecting rent on the properties.
However in a sworn counter-affidavit deposed to at the Federal High Court, Ibadan on December 7, Mr Bello, described the averments of the defendants as not only prejudicial to the pending criminal charge at the Federal High Court, Ibadan but “blatant falsehood, concocted to malign and damage my hard earned reputation”.
“I did not at any time request for the sum of N500,000 or any other sum from either Ayodele Festus Adeyemi or any of his colleagues.
“I did not at any time demand for N12 million or any other sum from the defendants or from any other person.
“I did not ask any lawyer to collect any money from any of the defendants and I challenge Mr. Festus Adeyemi to name the said Senior Advocate of Nigeria”, Mr Bello stated.
He also averred that he was not in position to influence the release of the defendants as he was merely a member of the investigating team. According to him, “I was not one of the leaders of our team, constituted to investigate the case and I could not have promised Mr. Festus Adeyemi or any other person that he would not be prosecuted.”
Mr Bello described the alleged inhuman treatment of the defendants as “fiction.” Not only is the so called “German Cell” non-existent, he explained that the condition of the EFCC cell where the defendants were detained is decent.
“Contrary to the averments contained in paragraph 19 of the affidavit, I am not aware of the existence of any German cell in the EFCC or in any other place.
“That I am aware that the EFCC cell is one of the best in the country with facilities such as fans, toilets, bathrooms and beddings”, he said.
Wondering why it took Mr Adeyemi and his colleagues six years to come up with this tale of bribery, Mr Bello claimed that the false averments were a desperate gambit by the defendants to incite the public against the EFCC, having unsuccessfully tried to set aside the interim forfeiture of the alleged proceeds of crime.
Mr Adeyemi and his co-defendants allegedly swindled the CBN of hundreds of millions of naira by fraudulently depositing boxes of N10,000,000.00 in supposed N1000 notes with ordinary papers, N5 notes, N10 notes, fake currencies and at times with N100 notes while the correct value of N10, 000,000:00 was given the deposit money banks, DMBs in respect of each of the boxes.
“Ayodele Festus Adeyemi and his First Bank colleagues offered huge sums of money to Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Muniru Adeola and Toogun Kayode Philip as their shares of the fraud in order to allow mutilated, interleafed or corroded bank notes to be accepted by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ibadan Branch”, Bello said.
Mr Adeyemi allegedly used the proceeds of the heist to acquire the following properties: i. Duplex with BQ at Kolapo lshola Estate, Bashorun Akobo, Ibadan; ii. Three bungalows of 10 flats of two bedroom at Oladigbo Street, Ogungbade Area, off New Ife Express Road, Ibadan; iii. MRS Filling Station at Old Ife Road, New Gbagi Market opp., Stanbic IBTC Bank, Ibadan; iv. A Camry Car, ash colour with registration No: KJA 569 BF; v. A bungalow of two bedrooms, comprising two flats at No., 3 Bankole Street, Alaaka, Adegbayi Ibadan; vi. A fenced empty plot of land with black gate at Lt. Col. Abimbola Onipede Close, opp., His Mercy Academy, off Bethel Secondary School Junction, off Alakia, Isibo Road Ibadan; vii. A fuel station, AZOP OIL at Lagos/Benin Express Way, Ore Ondo State.
Mr Adeyemi also owned monetary assets in the sum of N10, 000, 000.00, deposited in the account name of MRS Petroleum Plc; the sum of N132, 334.41 in First Bank Account No. 3022677380, Account Name: Adeyemi Enitan Olufunke; the sum of N316, 2660.77 in First Bank Account No. 2004308313, Account Name: Adeyemi Ayodele Festus; the sum of N207, 972.13 in Zenith Bank Account No. 1014010089, Account Name: Oja Omo Jesu Multibiz Ltd, a company in which he is the alter-ego, which assets are in excess of his legitimate, known and provable income.
To forestall the dissipation of these assets, the EFCC initiated a forfeiture proceeding that led to their seizure on interim basis. Contrary to the claim by Adeyemi that Bello seized his properties and had been collecting rent on them, such forfeiture proceedings are handled by the Legal and Prosecution Department of the EFCC, while the Commission’s Assets Forfeiture and Recovery Management Directorate handles the management of seized assets.
“I did not and could not have employed the services of an agent to manage the forfeited assets,” Mr Bello declared.