*Suspected NGO got N3.2b from sponsor in 3 months
*Presidency alerted on findings
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Four persons, among them a woman, and two non-governmental organisations currently working in Borno State to provide ‘succour’ to internally displaced persons ravaged by Boko Haram terrorists, have come under the scrutiny of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for alleged terrorism financing, conspiracy and money laundering.
Specifically, EFCC wants to establish the relationship between the four persons and the two NGOs on one hand and their relationship with a cash-dispensing company, which has been feeding them with huge war chest for unstated reasons.
How trouble started
Trouble started for the suspects when EFCC operatives, acting on intelligence, swooped on the Maiduguri Airport on 18th March 2019 and arrested a man and a woman with cash totalling N54 million.
While the man carried N45 million, the woman was arrested with N9 million cash at the airport, claiming it was meant for the payment of grants to their workers in two Local Government Areas of Borno State.
Saturday Vanguard learnt that the operatives immediately seized the cash and began interrogating the suspects, who have been found to be engaged by two non-governmental organisations registered and operating in Nigeria and particularly, the North East.
Investigations by the anti-graft agency revealed that one of the suspected entities operates 40 different bank accounts while the other organisation under probe by the EFCC runs 15 different banks accounts with variegated Bank Verifications Numbers, BVNs.
Investigations by the EFCC also exposed one of the firms as having recently made a proposal of $7 million to an international aid agency but recently received N141 million from the Millennium Development Goal, MDG, office.
Operatives of the commission also stumbled on how the sum of N567 million was wired in 12 different inflows into its account in one day, 6th March 2019 from a suspected company registered as a financial services provider and foreigners as directors into the account of the NGO.
Most shocking to EFCC investigators was the startling revelation of how the same NGO received a whopping N3.2 billion from the same suspicious firm between January and March 2019.
According to the findings, all the transfers, which were from the company’s account domiciled with one of the flourishing commercial banks in the country, was tagged as ‘USD Purchase Order’ without stating the purpose.
EFCC alerts Presidency
Apparently suspecting that the suspects might have been passing the huge cash to terrorists, the EFCC has written to the Presidency to alert it of the facts it had stumbled on in the course of pursuing the N54 million at the Maiduguri Airport.
In a letter addressed to the Presidency and dated March 28, 2019 with reference No.EFCC/EC/P/01/620, the anti-graft agency wrote: “This deals with an alleged case of Criminal Conspiracy, Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing initiated following an intelligence report to the Commission on the 18th March, 2019 against an NGO and four others.
“The cash movement of the total sum of N54 million through the Maiduguri airport provides strong grounds for suspicion of conspiracy, money laundering and Terrorist financing.
“Your Excellency, the suspected NGO has also not been able to furnish the investigating team with vital details on the beneficiaries of the said grant to enable us cross-check and verify them. In a letter dated 20th March, 2019, signed by the country director of the suspected organisation it simply stated that it would require the approval of her Donor to disclose or furnish data on the beneficiaries of the intercepted money.
“Additionally, the director of operation of the suspected agency in his written statement specifically stated that beneficiaries’ data could not be provided to the Commission “as the donor for this particular programme did not authorize it to share this data”.
“The Office of the Secretary to the Government of Borno State has in a letter dated 21st March, 2019 confirmed that the suspected NGO is one of the NGOs working in the State, while the Ministry of Budget and National Planning is yet to respond to the commission’s requests on the matter.
“It is pertinent to state at this junction that the commission is conducting further investigation on the suspects in relation to different bank accounts and different BVN as reflected in our findings.
“Your Excellency, investigation is still on-going and further developments will be communicated in due course,” EFCC wrote.