Salami panel: EFCC operatives caught on tape demanding N75m bribe
A businessman has played a recorded tape before the Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential Probe Panel, showing how some operatives of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), allegedly used a lawyer to demand bribery of N75 million to be paid into different accounts.
The businessman, Mr. Donald Wokoma of Damijay Integrated Services Limited, had tendered an affidavit of fact in support of a petition he wrote against the operatives for extortion before unfreezing his account.
The EFCC had in 2018, refused to obey the order of Justice O.C. Agbaza to lift the restrictions on the account of Damijay Services Limited, after the firm had filed a suit for fundamental rights enforcement at the FCT High Court.
An Abuja-based lawyer, who was allegedly involved in the deal, the Economic Confidential gathered, did not deny his voice in the 27 minutes tape recording that was played before the panel, where he mentioned names of suspended Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, among other operatives over the bribery allegation.
The Lagos-based lawyer was the former lawyer to the company on the case with the EFCC.
Meanwhile, in the affidavit sighted by the Economic Confidential, the businessman alleged that on or around 20th of May, 2020, the lawyer asked him to sign three blank cheques (valued at N25 million each), which he would hand over to the people in EFCC to enable them unfreeze the account.
The petitioner had revealed that the said EFCC operatives had sent three different bank accounts namely: Cikin Gida Nigeria Limited with account number 1771773211, at Polaris Bank; Black and Black Global Concept Limited with account number 0259011841 with GTBank and Amina Kigbu with account number 2176716071 with Zenith Bank for the payment of the alleged bribe.
When the cheques were not honoured by the bank, the operatives requested that the businessman execute an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (on the company’s official letterhead) in favour of the three bank accounts and later demanded for 40% of the money in the company’s account (which aggregates to One Hundred Million Naira), which the businessman outrightly rejected.
After rejecting their last demand, the businessman stated that: “On the 9th of July, 2020, an official of EFCC called me to come to their office the next day being 10th July, 2020 (Friday). I honoured the invitation and stayed for long hours only for me to be informed by him (around 5:09pm after I had left), that I have been charged to Court by SMS and that I was to appear before the F.C.T. High Court sitting at Lugbe by 8:30 am on Monday, 13th July, 2020 to be with a copy of the charge and arraigned simultaneously.
“He warned me via the SMS to ‘endeavour to come to avoid unnecessary embarrassment.’ On the 13th of July, 2020 while at the Lugbe High Court, I was served with an Amended Charge dated and filed on the 19th day of June, 2020 (exactly 2 days after I outrightly rejected their fresh demand of 40% of the total sum of the money in the company’s account).
“The said amended charge was signed by one Abba Muhammed of Legal and Prosecution Department of the EFCC with Supreme Court No: (SCN046977). Upon going through the documents served on me in Court, I discovered to my chagrin that there is an earlier charge dated the 3rd day of January, 2019 and filed on the 4th day of January, 2019 signed by one Aisha A. T. Habib from the Legal & Prosecution Department of the EFCC with Supreme Court No: SCN014045. This particular charged of 4th January, 2019 (which is over a year and five months) was never served on me.”
It went on to add that: “After presenting the petition to the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and specifically on Monday, the 6th day of August, 2020, I called (the Lagos-based lawyer) and informed him that a copy of the correspondences he has been exchanging with the operatives of the EFCC would be needed at the office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation in support of the petition.
“In response to my request as per the preceding paragraph, (the lawyer) told me over the phone that he has been receiving calls from agents of the EFCC and that in particular one Aisha of the EFCC was crying and pleading with him not to expose them else her career would be ruined.
“He (the lawyer) said that some other EFCC officials, which he has been corresponding with, called him to query him on why he allowed me to write the petition to the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and demanded that the said petition (Exhibit Dami 1) be withdrawn else there would be consequences after the storm currently buffeting the Commission.
“(The lawyer) further told me that those EFCC officials reminded him that he is a young Lawyer and that he has a lot before him and that he should not forget that what is happening at the EFCC at the time was a tussle between the Honourable AGF and the suspended Acting Chairman of the EFCC and boasted that things would soon return to normal at the EFCC. They thereafter asked him to call me so we could have a meeting where the matter would be effectively resolved.
“On 7th August, 2020, I instructed Barrister Johnmary Jideobi to call (the Lagos-based lawyer) and remind him of the request I made on him the previous night. (The Lagos lawyer) told Barrister Johnmary Jideobi that he was not going to make the correspondences yet available to me because he had those discussions with the EFCC people in confidence and that we should not join the fray of what was/is happening because no one knows tomorrow. That he would not want to offend the people who gave him the information in confidence since he should be honourable enough not to do things that would offend them. (The Lagos lawyer) later told Barrister Johnmary Jideobi that he would call him back and hung up but never did that day.”