By Emma Ovuakporie,Â Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Ifeanyi Okolie
ABUJA â€” The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday gave debtors of recently bailed-out banks two weeks to pay up or face another round of action.
Also, the anti-graft yesterday docked a former Ambassador to Spain, Ambassador Yusuf Yaro Mamman, before an Abuja High Court sitting in Lugbe, for allegedly spearheading the diversion of funds earmarked for the establishment of Aso Television station in Abuja.
The agency said it is focusing on Other Financial Institutions, OFIs, in its efforts to rid the country of money laundering and what it calls â€˜terrorism financingâ€™ .
Bank debtors get 2-wk ultimatum
The latest ultimatum to bank debtors is coming following reports from the affected banks that most of the debtors had reneged on their promise to pay up within a stipulated period.
According to the Head, Media and Publicity of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Femi Babafemi, yesterday, â€œIt is worrisome that those that made part payments with a promise to pay up within a certain period following the intervention of the EFCC, have failed on their own terms.
â€œIt is therefore necessary to remind them that the recent withdrawal of the EFCC operatives from the affected banks should not be misconstrued or taken advantage of.
â€œSince our investigation of the criminal flavor of these loans is still on-going, we therefore wish to warn those that have reneged on the repayment terms not to be taken by surprise at the end of the latest two weeks grace when the Commission shall again move decisively against defaulters.
â€œIt is our wish to round off our operations in the affected banks by the end of the year so that the banks can run smoothly without any further interference from next year.
â€œAs such, it is imperative that all concerned should make haste to fulfill their promises to enable the Commission concentrate fully on the prosecution of those already found culpable.â€
Ex-Ambassador Mamman docked
Ambassador Mamman, who was hitherto the Chairman Board of Directors of Aso Radio and Television Abuja and one-time national chairman of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, was said to have conspired with three of his board members on February 5, this year, to dishonestly misappropriate about N300 million belonging to the establishment.
The other accused persons who were also arraigned yesterday by the EFCC over the fraud were Mr. Ahmed A. Ishaq, Mr. Ahmed Tafida and Mr Sani Jaâ€™afaru.
The embattled former envoy and his board members however entered a plea of innocence to the entire 9-count criminal charges that were read to them by the court clerk.
They were granted bail in the sum of N5million each by trial Justice Olukayode Adegbola Adeniyi who adjourned further hearing in the matter till February 4, next year
Four of them were specifically alleged to have conspired to obtain credit facilities totaling about N25million, dishonestly siphoned about N130 million meant for the establishment of Aso TV and further shared amongst themselves another 22,280 Euros allegedly secured through an illegal transmission of â€˜Aso Radio Internationalâ€™ radio station.
The EFCC, further alleged in the charge sheet that while about N1.5million was used by the accused persons to lodge in an Hotel in Abuja, that about N8.6 million was latter traced to a Zenith bank account, which they were said to have opened in the name of one Sunday Ibok.
Their act according to the anti-graft agency, contravened section 97(1) of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990, Article 801 of the Financial Regulation and punishable under section 309 of the Penal Code Act.
EFCC probes other Financial Institutions
EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri, said yesterday that the agency will henceforth, focus attention on Other Financial Institutions, OFIs, in its efforts to rid the country of money laundering and what it calls â€˜terrorism financingâ€™.
The OFIs, which the EFCC Chairman said have become weak link in the war against money laundering in Nigeria include Discount Houses, Primary Mortgage Institutions and Micro-Finance Banks.
Mrs. Waziri who was represented by Emmanuel Akomaye, Secretary to the Commission, made the remark at the Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorist Financing training/seminar, organised by the EFCC through the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, for other financial institutions.
â€œFocussing on the OFIs or strengthening AML/CFT measures within the OFIs sector will help us weed out unscrupulous operators who have brought disrepute to other sectors; enhance business transparency and promote legitimate private business growth; provide a fair and enabling environment for all OFI operators; increase investors confidence thereby attracting more investment and facilitate the prevention and detection of money laundering and all associated predicate offences,â€ Waziri said.