The Federal High Court in Abuja has frozen seven separate accounts which, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, were used by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to launder the sum of N10bn said to be derived from the proceeds of the Paris Club refund.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole directed on Wednesday that the freezing order would last for 45 days within which the EFCC must either institute charges in respect of the transactions against the relevant suspects or apply to the court for an extension of the order.
The judge also gave seven days to the account owners, if interested in seeking the setting aside of the freezing order, to file an application which must be served on the EFCC.
The frozen accounts are 0002184449 with Jaiz Bank Plc and operated by HAD Properties Limited; 0025600864 with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and operated by Hassan Ahmed Danbaba; as well as 0005892453 with Access Bank Plc and operated by Melrose General Services Coy.
They also include one Access Bank account, 0045824054 and another Zenith Bank Plc account 1010948906, both of which belong to Bina Consult and Integrated Services.
The rest are two Access Bank Plc accounts – 0700755576 and 0700946008 – belonging to Farouk Adamu Aliyu and Malam Alu Agro Allied Company Ltd., respectively.
EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Ben Ikani, had moved the ex parte application seeking the freezing of the accounts on November 27, following which Justice Kolawole adjourned till Wednesday for ruling.
The commission alleged that its preliminary investigation had revealed that the N10bn was fraudulently diverted by the NGF under the guise of paying consultancy fee to BizPlus GSCL Consortium which the Forum engaged “to carry out reconciliation of accounts and recover the amounts due to the states” from the refund of the over-deducted payment of Paris Club debt by the Federal Government from 1995 to 2002.
In an affidavit filed in support of the EFCC’s ex parte motion, a member of the Special Investigation Committee, set up by the commission to investigate the alleged Paris Club refunds scam, Osas Azonabor, alleged that preliminary investigation had revealed that the NGF caused the Central Bank of Nigeria to pay N19,439,225,871.11 into its account for onward payment to BizPlus as consultancy fee.
But the investigator stated that N10bn of the N19.4bn paid to the NGF account by the CBN was fraudulently disbursed to the seven accounts of companies and individuals, who were not part of the said BizPlus GSCL Consortium.
Detailing how the fraud was allegedly perpetrated, Azonabor alleged that the NGF had agreed to pay success fee of two per cent to BizPlus GSCL Consortium.