The Cybercrime Unit of the International Police (INTERPOL) in Nigeria, National Central Bureau in Abuja, has arrested two suspects over their alleged complicity in a multi-million Euro scam connected to the procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The Force public relations officer, Mr Frank Mba, in a statement, explained that the suspects, Babatunde Adesanya aka Teddy, a 50-year-old Masters Degree holder in Cell Biology and Akinpelu Hassan Abass, a 41-year-old managing director, Musterpoint Investment Nigeria Ltd were members of a sophisticated transnational criminal network that cloned the corporate website of ILBN Holdings BV, Holland to transact with and defraud one Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn, a representative of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Mba, a deputy commissioner of police, further stated that “the arrest of the suspects was sequel to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) received by the Bureau from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice conveying a request from the German government for investigations into a fraudulent transaction on the procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment linked to a Nigerian-based Bank Account”.
He noted: “Discrete investigations by INTERPOL Nigeria revealed that the suspects and their Holland-based cohorts, Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder specialised in identity theft, cyber-stalking,
cloning of corporate websites amongst other cyber mischiefs to defraud unsuspecting members of the public across the world.
“In this instance, the suspects fraudulently obtained from Mr Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn the sum of 1.5m Euro and another 880,000 Euro as
advanced payment for the supply of COVID-19 PPEs valued at 14.7million Euros”.
Mba noted that disturbed by the non-arrival of the PPEs, Mr Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn eventually visited the corporate office of ILBN Holdings BV in Holland to inquire reasons for the delay
in supplying the items only to find out that the company never did business with him and that the transaction was a scam.
The fraudsters were said to have merely cloned the company’s website and falsely presented themselves as representatives of the company before subsequently executing the fraudulent transaction.
The Force spokesman said consequently, he reported the case of fraud to the Police in Holland and this led to the arrest of Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder in Holland and investigations extended to Nigeria.
Investigation by INTERPOL Nigeria further revealed that Babatunde
Adesanya received 498,000 Euro from Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius
Maulder through his Citibank London account and transferred same to an account number domiciled with a Lagos branch of a leading commercial bank in Nigeria belonging to Musterpoint Investment Nig. Ltd.
While commending the commissioner of police, INTERPOL, Garba Baba Umar and operatives of INTERPOL Nigeria, Cybercrime Unit for a job a job well done, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, assured members of the public and the international community of the commitment of the Force to tackling cybercrimes and other transnational crimes.
He reiterated that there would be no hiding place for internet fraudsters in the country.
Meanwhile, the suspects will be arraigned before a competent court of law soon.
N30.5bn Spent On Pandemic In 4 Months – FG
Meanwhile, the federal government has disclosed that N30.5billion has so far been spent in its effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Accountant-general of the federation, Ahmed Idris, had in response to a freedom of information (FoI) request by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Connected Development (CODE), said that 84 per cent of N36.3 billion COVID-19 donations received from April to July had been spent.
Not satisfied with the reply by the accountant-general, the deputy director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, and chief executive officer of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, in a letter jointly signed, asked the accountant-general of the federation to give a breakdown of how the money was spent and plans of how the balance will be expended.
He said, “We note among others that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 spent N22 billion, and 36 states spent N7 billion to support their COVID-19 initiatives,” the groups wrote.
“We also note that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spent N877 million for deployment of assets in support of COVID-19 operations; while the Nigeria Police spent N500 million on personal protective equipment.
N17,865.09 was paid as bank charges.
“However, we also note that the documents sent to us do not contain other significant details as indicated in our FoI request dated 10 August 2020, including details and breakdown of the number of
Nigerians who directly or indirectly have benefited from the spending, and details on plans to spend the balance of N5.9 billion in the COVID-19 Eradication Support Accounts.
“It is refreshing to note that 115 ordinary Nigerians donated between N1 and N100 to support the authorities’ efforts to fight COVID-19, despite the fact that it is the country’s poorest and most
disadvantaged sectors of the population that continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We welcome your demonstrated commitment to transparency and accountability, and hope other public officials and institutions would emulate and learn from the good example you have shown by honouring and respecting FoI Act as a matter of routine and practice.
“We would therefore be grateful to receive more specific details and
additional information on the spending of N34.4bn between April and July, and details on plans to spend the balance of the balance of N5.9 billion in the COVID-19 Eradication Support Accounts.”
PMB Briefs ECOWAS In Niger Republic Today
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, will depart Abuja today for Niamey, Niger Republic to participate in the Fifty-Seventh Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.
According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, the one-day summit will deliberate on the special report on COVID-19 to be presented by President Buhari who was appointed the ECOWAS Champion on the Fight against COVID-19 during the extraordinary virtual summit of ECOWAS on April 23, 2020.
He said as a champion, the Nigerian leader was expected to coordinate the sub-regional response against the pandemic.
“In furtherance of that objective, under the supervision of the Champion, Nigerian Ministers of Health, Aviation and Finance were appointed Chairpersons of the Ministerial Coordination Committees on Health; Transport, Logistics and Trade; and Finance respectively.
“The Summit will also receive a Special Report on the ECOWAS Single
Currency Programme to be presented by President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone and Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), and President Alassane Ouattara, who is Chair of the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU/UEMOA)” Shehu stated.
He also noted that the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Kassi Brou, will present to the West African leaders, the 2020 Interim Report on activities of the sub-regional body including ECOWAS Vision 2050.
The alarming rise in incidents of terrorism, insurgency, armed banditry and piracy will also come under focus, while the disruption of the democratic process by the military in Mali, will receive further attention.
Similarly, Shehu said in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Niger where parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled for this year, the imperative to strengthen democracy in the sub-region by respecting constitutional provisions, rule of law and outcomes of free and fair polls will be emphasised.
President Buhari, who will be accompanied to the Summit by ministers and other top government officials, will return to Abuja after the meeting.