N62.8b ‘fraud’: Ex-naval chief, others in trouble
Jibrin defends his integrity
Ex-Accounts chief refunds N155m
Seven officers, a retired Rear Admiral and five businessmen have been implicated in the alleged diversion of N62.8billion belonging to the Navy.
The fraud occurred between 2013 and 2015 when Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin was the Chief of Naval Staff, The Nation learnt.
A former Naval Chief of Accounts has refunded N155million to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), even as his share of the loot is still being traced.
Jibrin, who is facing trial over the $2.1billion arms deals, is being investigated for the alleged diversion with his wife and some companies, which are believed to have been allegedly used to launder funds.
According to a preliminary report on the investigation, the N62, 851,088, 500.04 was allegedly siphoned from two accounts belonging to the Navy.
The diverted funds were sourced from the Chief of Naval Staff Operations Account and Okogba Mark Naval Account.
EFCC detectives discovered that four cashiers in the Navy(Lieutenant/Sub-Lieutenant) were used to siphon funds from the two accounts into some companies in which Jibrin has interest.
The ex-Chief of Naval Staff is believed to have incorporated some companies through proxies.
The report said: “The Naval cashiers were withdrawing cash and each time they did so, the same amounts were immediately credited to the proxy companies.
“The account details of some of the affected companies and deposit slips filled by these cashiers reflected the same dates. We did cash withdrawal and deposit analysis.
“One of such companies is Mugabis Integrated Services Limited. This company received N80, 648,000 and N98, 373,000 from the Chief of Naval Staff Operations and Okogba Mark accounts.
“Detectives have uncovered that even though the ex-Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, was never cited as a director in the registration of Mugabis at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), he became a signatory to the account of the company in 2015.
“The ex-Chief of Naval Staff will be interrogated on how he became a signatory to an account of a company in which he is not a director. It is recommended that Jibrin should explain his status in Mugabis.
“In the course of investigation, it was discovered that a suspicious lodgment of N209, 757, 700 was made in the account of Thames Equistrin Limited (1013990645), which is a company traced to Lami Jibrin, the wife of the ex-Naval chief.
“Another company, Lahab Nigeria Limited, received N471million from the Chief of Naval Staff Operations Accounts and Okogba Mark. The company is registered with CAC. Vice Admiral Jibrin and Hadiza Jibrin are directors. But Jibrin is the sole signatory to the account.
“There is also a case of another firm, Hadiza Zainab Nigeria Limited; N230million was paid into its account when Jibrin was the Chief of Naval Staff.”
“The purported owner of Mugabis Integrated Services, Muhammed Gabis, has been asked to appear before the EFCC for interrogation on May 30,” the EFCC source said.
He confirmed that the former Chief of Accounts and Budget had refunded N155million.
“He made the refund after admitting that he benefited from the looted funds from the two accounts of the Nigerian Navy. We are yet to end the tracking of cash allocated to him.
“Our operatives are working on clues that many Naval officers benefited from the N62.8billion loot. And these four cashiers paid cash into the accounts of these senior ones.”
The top source said the ex-Chief of Naval Staff might have got wind of the investigation when he opted to “raise the alarm that the EFCC wanted to plant incriminating evidence” against him.
Jibrin is facing trial alongside Rear Admiral Bala Mshelia, Rear Admiral Shehu Ahmadu (all retired) and Habor Bay International Limited on a four-count charge of criminal conspiracy preferred against them by the EFCC.
The naval chiefs whilst in office allegedly bought a house worth N600million from the account of Naval Engineering Services without budgetary provision.
It was also alleged that the documentation for the transfer of ownership of the property was done such that a private company owned by the family of the first defendant (Vice Admiral Jibrin) became the buyer.
The offence is in contravention of Section 26 (1) (b) and punishable under Section 22 (4) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offence Act 2000.
But in an open letter to the EFCC chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the former Chief of Naval Staff accused some “cabal” members of using the anti-graft agency to settle scores with him.
The letter said in part: “I regret to state that my life has been under threat by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) since my retirement from active service of the Nigerian Navy on the 14 July 2015.
“This is sequel to the fact that some cabals are hiding under the executive orders of Mr. President to settle scores against me on the perceived injustice allegedly meted on them by the Nigerian Navy during my tenure as the Chief of the Naval Staff.
“I decided to put my thought in writing because of information made available to me from very reliable sources that plans have been concluded to plant incriminating evidence against me by operatives of the EFCC.
“This revelation has pushed me to the wall to speak out as I have observed that silence may not be golden after all in the face of some suspicious activities going around my properties by unknown elements.
“My life is at stake, my dignity is at stake, my integrity is at stake and my name is at stake. I respect the rule of law and detest injustice. Fairly minded officers and men of the Nigerian Navy and those in other Services who worked closely with me could attest to this assertion.
”Let me hastily state that the kernel of my letter to you is to draw your attention to the fact that I now have it on good authority that your organisation is being used by a cabal who are very uncomfortable with my freedom and threatened by my unblemished record as the former Chief of Naval Staff who fought them to a standstill in their illegal bunkering and oil theft.
“They have found your Commission as the right tool to bring me down at all cost. Of course, your organisation working in tandem with the directives issued by these cabals who have concluded plans to plant incriminating materials, including foreign currencies, arms and ammunition, in any or some of my premises/properties and then come up with a trump up charge of financial crime or treasonable felony or illegal possession of weapons/firearms against me.
“This latest machination is to satisfy the cabal that the commission has fulfilled its bidding as well as justify all the raids which failed to produce any expected result.
”It is imperative to state at this juncture that no one has accused me of corruption or at least I am not aware of any written petition against me alleging any wrongdoing in my capacity as the former Chief of Naval Staff.
“I believe that EFCC has a procedure for investigating allegations against any individual, which is mostly predicated on a written petition, which leads to investigation, culminating into invitation of the alleged offender or arrest as the case may be. Subsequently, such offender is charged before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Ironically, EFCC has never disclosed to me if there is any petition against me or the subject matter of their investigation against me that necessitates the surprise unending searches on my properties. It is worth noting that EFCC has conducted searches on me in 8 locations without discovering incriminating evidence bordering on financial crimes.
“In most cases, my assets were destroyed in my absence without a single apology from the Commission or explanation as to why my properties were raided. In all eight (8) instances, no search warrants were produced before these raids were conducted; neither was I notified.
“Please find enclosed photographs of the series of raids on my premises and the destruction therein. When will the everlasting investigation, which commenced in July 2015, come to an end for me to have my peace in life after active service?
”Suffice it to quickly note that under my watch as Chief of Naval Staff, I arrested over 60 vessels carrying out oil theft and illegal bunkering between January 2014 and July 2015, while discharging my constitutional responsibilities and handed over same and their owners to EFCC for prosecution.
“However, to my utter consternation, many of these suspects have been released and without prosecution, except for two (2) being prosecuted as at February 2017.
“Could it be that the cabals which the EFCC under your watch is acting their script against me are also beneficiaries of the proceeds of the oil theft and illegal bunkering which I stopped.”
Jibrin made a six-point demand from the EFCC as follows:
- Put a stop to this threat to my life and consistent harassment and destruction of my properties under the guise of some undisclosed investigations.
- Come out clearly on the allegations against me and officially inform me of any petition against me in which I am being investigated to enable me defend myself.
- Put a stop to any plans to plant incriminating evidence in any of my premises aimed at incarcerating and putting me out of circulation.
- That you convey acceptance of an open invitation from me to the Commission that you personally lead a team to conduct a search on all my properties between 18, 19 and 20 May 2017 in the presence of the police, DSS and the press. Kindly refer to the list of my premises in your possession.
- That you stop the media war being waged against me wherein you have consistently labelled me a common criminal which you know I am not.
- That you provide Nigerians with full details of all the vessels handed over to you for investigation and prosecution and the status of each of them, including evacuation of the products therein.