BY OUR CORRESPONDENTS
Following allegations of corruption and manipulation against billionaire businessman, Captain Idahosa Okunbo by a former Chairman of Skye Bank Plc., Mr. Tunde Ayeni, the Nigeria Police Force, which investigated the matter, have released their report, where they described the allegations as malicious, baseless and false.
This is as allegations of blackmail against the police and an attempt to influence the report have continued to trail Ayeni, as the police report, being the latest twist to the matter, has vindicated the retired commercial pilot.
That notwithstanding, Okunbo too has written, both to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, intimating them of the development and the need to authenticate the report by acting on it.
According to the report, which generated from the office of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, “Upon the receipt of the petition and in compliance with the directive of the Inspector General of Police that, the matter under reference should be investigated, on the 7th January 2021, the suspect (Captain Idahosa Wells-Okunbo) volunteered a statement under word of caution and denied all the allegations levelled against him and presented all the documentary evidence to support his claims and transactions that took place between him (Captain Idahosa Wells-Okunbo) and the complainant (Dr Tunde Ayeni).
“All the documents submitted by the suspect (Captain Idahosa Wells-Okunbo) were perused, scrutinised and forensically investigated and were found to be genuine and they were all endorsed by the parties (Dr Tunde Ayeni and Captain Idahosa Wells-Okunbo) to the transactions.”
According to the report, the police stated that during the investigations, all the requisite documents were copied and distributed by the parties to all stakeholders and relevant agencies, and thereafter invited Ayeni for his statements.
In their findings, the Police said they established that both men had been friends since 2003, which led to a lot of business relationships, one of which was Ocean Marine Security Limited, which later rebranded as Ocean Marine Solutions Limited.
Tracing the ownership structure of the company, the report noted, “That Ocean Marine Solutions Limited, then, has the following shareholders, Captain Idahosa Wells-Okunbo – 46%; Dr Tunde Ayeni – 35%; Garth Dooley – 14%; Admiral Augustus Aikhomu originally has 5%, which was subsequently re-acquired by Captain Idahosa Wells-Okunbo and Dr Tunde Ayeni, who also became chairman and vice-chairman respectively.
“That the complainant, Dr Tunde Ayeni, voluntarily and legally transferred his shares and that of his wife from Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMS) and its subsidiaries to Capt Idahosa Wells-Okunbo in consideration of the total sum of N2billion, which the complainant (Dr Tunde Ayeni) acknowledged receipt of same and resigned his membership from the board of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMS) and its subsidiaries.”
The report, therefore, concluded thus: “That the allegations of stealing and criminal diversion of company funds as alleged by the complainant, Dr Tunde Ayeni against the suspect, Captain Idahosa Wells-Okunbo could not be established as there was documentary evidence provided by the suspect – Captain Idahosa Wells-Okunbo, which clearly shows that Captain Idahosa Okunbo, has lawfully acquired Dr Tunde Ayeni’s interest in Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMS) for a valuable consideration of N2, 000, 000, 000 (Two Billion Naira only).
“So, also, the allegation of criminal diversion of company funds is baseless, malicious and false as it hasn’t been proven by the complainant.”
The report has since been forwarded to the EFCC and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, thus, foreclosing Ayeni’s false allegations against Okunbo and his attempt to return to the company through other means possible.
Meanwhile, sources within his camp have threatened to go on a media onslaught in the bid to change the situation in his favour.
“A close associate, who takes side with true position hinted me of a damaging allegation in the making,” the police source hinted.
However, in his separate letters to the AGF and the EFCC, Okunbo through his lawyer, Augustine Alegeh of Alegeh and Co., expressed the appreciation of his client to Malami for intervening when Ayeni attempted to duplicate the investigation by sending same petition to the police and the EFCC.
“We respectfully request the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice to notify the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of the outcome of the investigation by the officers of the Inspector General of police so that the matter can be put to rest an d treated as closed,” the letter stated.
In yet another letter to the EFCC chairman, Okunbo’s lawyers, while reiterating the content of the letter they sent to Malami, also emphasised to Bawa: “We trust you will now treat the matter as closed.”
Incidentally, the IG’s investigation report appears to have confirmed and validated the EFCC report of 2019, which also stated that Ayeni had actually sold his shares in OMSL.
According to the EFCC report with reference number EFCC/EC/GC/31/2538, dated June 25, 2019 and signed by the Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar Abba, “…Investigation was extended to Corporate Affairs Commission, where it was discovered that Dr. Ayeni had on the 8th August, 2018, actually sold his 35 million ordinary shares in Ocean Marine Solutions Limited and 37.2 million ordinary shares in PPP Fluid Mechanics Limited to Wells Property Development Company Limited, a subsidiary of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited.
“Consequent upon the following, the Commission’s investigation so far did not indict the Chairman of Ocean Marine Solutions and its subsidiary companies, Capt. Idahosa Wells Okunbo on the alleged diversion of 29.5 billion naira from the defunct Skye bank Plc., by Dr. Tunde Ayeni.”
Curiously, some weeks back, Ayeni, despite the EFCC report, petitioned the EFCC again through his lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, and alleged that he sold his shares at the OMS under duress while also accusing Okunbo of stealing and criminally diverting company funds.
But, three months after the petition became public, investigations carried out by the Inspector General of Police Monitoring Unit, have absolved Okunbo of any wrongdoing.