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Access Bank prosecutes defunct Intercontinental Bank staff for stealing N1.2bn from customers

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Following the startling discovery of a whopping N1.2bn fraud, allegedly committed by one Olayinka Sanni, a former staff of Access Bank, through illegal siphoning of customers’ money, the bank has now taken the bold step to prosecute the said former staff, through the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC,) after intensive investigations confirmed Sanni’s culpability in the alleged fraud.

An employee of Access Bank, one Arthur Ezindu, narrated how Olayinka Sanni, then an Account General Manager, AGM, of several plum accounts, severally stole a sizeable amount of money to the tune of N1.2billion from several accounts belonging to customers of the bank.

Some of these customers’ accounts include: the Falana & Falana Chambers; Babington Junior Seminary; Viju Industries; Mechano Nigeria, PWU Nigeria; Elizade Nigeria; Murhi International Group, to mention a few. Sanni was reportedly arraigned alongside one Oyebode Oteyebi by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an eight-count charge bordering on stealing, forgery and altering of forged documents. Ezindu, who gave his office address as Block 99C Damole, off Adeola Odeku, testified as a prosecution witness before an Ikeja High Court, Lagos.

While being led in evidence by the EFCC Lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, Ezindu said that Sanni withdrew the said huge sum of money from different customers’ accounts without their consent and thereafter issued them forged documents of confirmation which he purportedly claimed, emanated from the bank.

In the course of interrogation, Arthur Ezindu told the Special Offences Court that, Olayinka, who was his boss at the time of the incident, was a regional Executive, Lagos Mainland North at Intercontinental bank, now Access Bank. According to him, “The bank received several complaints from several customers whose accounts were debited without their consent.

However, during the preliminary investigation, we noticed that all the complaints were centered on our staff, Olayinka Sanni. We then invited him to the head office for questioning, but he claimed that everything was under control. He told us not to bother investigating the matter on the ground, that there was more behind what was happening.

So since he was our senior officer, being the AGM at that time, we decided to petition his case to the EFCC for proper investigation. When asked how much was involved as at the time the bank petitioned for EFCC, Ezindu replied, the total sum was about N1.2billion.

The prosecution thereafter tendered the petition dated September 2011 in evidence. Meanwhile, the two defendants were also arraigned alongside a company, Sidaw Ventures Limited, which was allegedly used to transfer and cash out the stolen funds.

The employee further said that during the preliminary investigation, the bank discovered that the company, Sidaw had Adamu as its signatory, while Sanni indirectly managed the account. Some of the handwriting on the cheques belonged to Sanni. He was the one indirectly signing and filling the cheques for Adamu. But in the wake of this unfolding scenario that is creeping into the good image of Access Bank, it was found out that the sleaze by Sanni was actually committed when he was still a staff of now defunct Intercontinental Bank, before it was acquire by Access Bank, thus with its assets and liabilities, as normally done in cases of acquisition.

Upon acquisition, Access Bank began a fresh look into the books and records of Intercontinental Bank; that was when the Olayimka Sanni’s lead was broken, as many atrocities and malfeasances were discovered, all pointing in the direction of Sanni, who by this time had resigned from Access Bank, apparently due to the fact, that it would not take long before his misdeed will be found, and he would go in for it. Subsequently, he was invited by the bank and handed over to EFCC for further investigation, which now led to his present prosecution at the Ikeja High Court (Special Offences Unit.)

The case was adjourned to a later date for further hearing, while the accused was refused bail, and still in the detention of EFCC.

The deduction from the case is that the implication being created is that the fraud was committed by Sanni as a staff of Access Bank, but the truth of the matter is that the fraud was committed by Sanni while he was a top official of defunct Intercontinental Bank, until it was eventually acquired by Access Bank with all its assets and liabilities, which now, in a fresh bid to regularize the acquisition, found out the sleaze committed by Sanni.

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INVESTIGATION

Insiders reveal: NHIS Chairman fighting Executive Secretary for exposing N1.5bn fraud, others

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The resolve of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf to re-accredit the Health Management Organizations(HMOs) and ensure the implementation of a security report which mandated the ES to recover the sum of N1.05 billion allegedly embezzled by some HMOs may have pitched him against the Chairman of the NHIS Council, Dr. Enyantu Ifenne, this newspaper has learnt.
The executive secretary was last Thursday reportedly suspended indefinitely on the order of the council chairman ostensibly to allow unfettered investigation into a petition said to have been written against him some staff of the NHIS.
In a letter signed by its Chairman, Dr Eyantu Ifenne, the Council said “in line with the public service rule 030406, has resolved to suspend you, Professor Usman Yusuf, indefinitely with effect from 18th October 2018 to allow for a comprehensive and unfettered investigation of the issues in the petitions against you.”
However, staff of the organization kicked against the suspension claiming it was a unilateral decision by the chairman as seven out of the 11 council members reportedly walked out of the meeting. A senior Director of the organization instructed to take over from the ES in acting capacity also reportedly declined the offer in solidarity with staff.
In his response to the letter of suspension, Prof. Yusuf stated that contrary to the claims of the council that the NHIS Act and the Public Service Rules no.030406 conferred on it the power to suspend the executive secretary, it had no such powers, stressing that only the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria could order the suspension or removal of the ES.
Insiders with knowledge of the in-fighting in the NHIS explained that there was no love lost between the chairman of the council and the executive for reasons many of the staff consider as self-serving.
The most obvious reason, according to sources, is an alleged collusion between the chairman and HMOs which has considerably weakened the scheme but benefitted the HMOs. Since resuming as ES in 2016, Prof. Yusuf had indicated interest to sanitize the scheme and stop an alleged racket which had ensured that HMOs to NHIS funds for as long as they liked without paying hospitals offering service to enrollees in the scheme.
An internal audit carried out by the ES had also revealed a staggering number of ghost enrollees and hospitals while the HMOs continued to receive huge illegal payments. The Department of State Services (DSS) had also investigated the Scheme from 2013-2015, and one of the recommendations in its report is that HMOs should pay back the sum of N1.05b that they were illegally paid in 2015.
But it was learnt that even though the ES sought and got the council approval to recover NHIS funds and re-accredit the HMOs, the Chairman never supported the move. The Chairman reportedly called a Council meeting one week after the go-ahead was given and asked a representative of the HMOs to address them on why they should not pay back the money.
“The meeting was attended by only four of the 11 council members, and after the presentation the Chairman asked the HMOs not to pay back any money to NHIS,” a senior staff explained. On several occasions, the Chairman had also allegedly circulated council meetings among certain HMOs, an action that was frowned upon by the ES who warned against given undue access and advantage to some HMOs above others at a time they were being accredited.
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INVESTIGATION

EXCLUSIVE: FG moves to arrest Delta Senator, James Manager, seize properties worth N5bn

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The Okoi Obono-Obla-led Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP) for the Recovery of Public Property has summoned the senator representing Delta South Senatorial District at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, James Manager over fraud and illegal acquisition of properties worth over N5bn with government funds, THE WITNESS learnt.

The panel is investigating the PDP senator following a petition written by a group, Conduct and Due Process. The group is calling the SPIP to investigate and prosecute the Delta lawmaker and also to request that the illegal properties allegedly scattered all over Delta, Abuja and the USA be temporarily forfeited to the FG. Some of the alleged properties include: a mansion in USA, KFT Event Centre in Warri (the biggest centre in Delta), Bendel Estate in Warri, a mansion in Apo area in Abuja worth over N500m, amongst others. Sources further disclosed that detectives from the Presidency were in Warri and Asaba, Delta State capital last week Tuesday to trace and mark the illegal properties.

Though Sen. Manager is said to have travelled out of the country to China for a seminar organized and sponsored by the Senate, THE WITNESS reliably gathered that he is billed to appear before the panel in Abuja on October 25, 2018 at 10am.

In line with THE WITNESS investigative journalism practice, our reporter contacted the chairman of the panel, Chief Obla who confirmed the report. “It’s true, we are investigating Senator James Manager,” Obla said.

Efforts to reach Sen. Manager for his angle to the reports proved futile as calls and text messages placed to his mobile line were not responded to as at press time.

More details as events unfold…

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INVESTIGATION

Again, Captain Idahosa Okunbo denies report linking him with alleged fraud

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Respected businessman cum philanthropist, Captain Hosa Okunbor, has caused to be issued again a statement dissociating him from the controversial oil swap deal involving former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke.

An unverified news report currently being circulated among Whatsapp users, which listed some Nigerian businessmen as beneficiaries of the said fraud, is a rehash of a report published in 2015 by a news portal, Pointblanknews.com, which it had since retracted as Okunbor was never listed among the perpetrators.

A statement released by the media team of Captain Okunbor reads, “As widely known, Captain Okunbor is neither under any probe nor facing any litigation over oil scam. The current administration, which has made anti-corruption its mantra and made giant strides in that respect, has not found Captain Okunbor or any of his businesses questionable or culpable of any underhand dealings. It is therefore horrifyingly unprofessional that some people, who perhaps saved the earlier report for hideous purposes apparently, have made it a habit to rehash and circulate it on a periodical basis on social media platforms especially on Whatsapp to unsuspecting contacts who in turn send it as broadcast messages.”

The statement reads further, “We, therefore, urge the public to disregard the report, which as far as we are concerned, is a product of the puerile imagination of blackmailers masquerading as bloggers, and fifth columnists who have clearly demonstrated that they have an axe to grind with the widely respected businessman.”

“It bears reiterating that Captain Okunbor has nothing to do with the controversial offshore processing agreements, OPAs, known as oil swap, involving the former Minister of Petroleum and others,” the statement concluded.
Captain Okunbor is a seasoned investor in diverse sectors of the economy spanning petroleum, marine, construction engineering and agriculture. His Hosa Wells Greenhouse Farm Limited, the first indigenously owned commercial greenhouse farm in Nigeria, launched its first fruits harvest last month, thus, blazing the trail with its all-year-round farming, which has been appraised as a novel initiative.

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