The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has revealed that it is investigating the Akwa Ibom State government over the suspicious payment of over N2 billion as legal fees without any contractual agreement or documentation.
EFCC sources, who spoke exclusively with LEADERSHIP said following an intelligence report on August 2, 2017, over the suspicious movement of N500 million to the Fidelity Bank account of one of the legal representatives of Akwa Ibom State on January 20, 2017; operatives of the commission embarked on investigation and discovered that there was no justification for the payment.
The EFCC, it was learnt, discovered that about N2,110,000,000 have allegedly passed through the state government and eight Senior Advocates of Nigeria between 2012 and 2016 without clear explanations as to what the funds are meant for.
The sources, who kept the names of the lawyers away because they have not been invited to speak to investigators, said records from banks show that while one of the lawyers would get N60 million; another would get as much as N570,000,000 without any document to back up the reason for the payment.
LEADERSHIP also learnt that the EFCC has invited all those involved, especially the permanent secretary of the Akwa Ibom State ministry of justice, accountants but that they all refused to honour the invitation.
Our sources also revealed that during the cause of investigation, it was discovered that the Akwa Ibom State accountant general’s Impress Account had allegedly made a cash payment of N300 million to one Paul Usoro and Co Zenith Bank account number 1014604466, which was opened on March 16, 2016 and received the payment, March 14, 2016, two day before the account was opened.
EFCC operatives stated “that this cash deposit of N300 million is above the threshold of N5 million for individual and N10 million for group or corporate bodies and therefore, contravenes the provision of the money laundering (prohibition Act, 2011 as amended).”
The EFCC discovered that the funds were shared among law firms with three getting N75 million each and one got N45 million while the last one got N45 million.
EFCC investigation also revealed that the funds were allegedly paid for the legal case of the state governor, Emmanuel Udom as personal legal charges.
The Sources said they are investigating why state funds should be used to pay for the governor’s personal legal cases, in addition to making cash payments above approved threshold.
This has also triggered investigation into the activities going on with the Akwa Ibom State accounts and hence, the need to place Post No Debits, PNDs on the accounts whenever investigation is ongoing.
The EFCC maintains that it never froze the accounts of Akwa Ibom state government as reported because it is only the courts that can give such orders for freezing accounts.
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