A leaked audio of an operation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mohammed Idris, has revealed how the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, compromised corruption cases in the country.
Malami had recommended the appointment of the current EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to President Muhammadu Buhari in February this year.
In one of the multiple audio recordings obtained by the Daily Nigerian and verified by some informants, the EFCC operative was arguing with a certain Abdulbari Yusuf, a younger brother of a retired rear admiral and former director of Naval Accounts, Tahir Yusuf, who faced charges of corruption.
Idris, who is a lawyer, was also heard giving Yusuf’s brother clues on how to defeat the anti-bribery commission in the Court of Appeal, as well as ways to evacuate money from a particular account.
“If you have money in any account linked to your BVN (Bank Verification Number), you need to evacuate them quickly. And if you make transfers, EFCC will still track them. You just have to withdraw and then deposit into another account, ”he said.
Yusuf had also specifically mentioned Malami as the head of the EFCC, and the minister had ordered the unfreezing of the “large accounts” investigated by the commission.
“Malami now controls the EFCC. The commission is in your hands. Once Malami speaks, the account will be unfrozen. They are unfreezing the accounts of the suspects, including the big cases, ”the EFCC operative was heard saying in the audio.
The operation spoke in reference to the frozen account of the company of retired naval officers, Aston, frozen by the EFCC with N114million in the formative stage of the investigations.
He also revealed how the attorney general presented the suspect with an attorney to handle the case.
“Yes, Malami introduced Ameh to him, so it will not be possible to question him,” the EFCC official said.
In other audio, the operative was also heard punishing his colleagues for thoroughly investigating the suspects, saying that the colleagues were “groups of evil and terrible human beings.”
It was inferred that the former naval officer had attempted to unfreeze the account when Ibrahim Magu was the chairman of the commission.
Also, their account was recently unfrozen to allow them to quickly move money as advised by the EFCC operative.
Sources said that due to the retired military officer’s connection to “leading politicians”, the EFCC recently opened its hotels in Kaduna and Zaria. The findings show that Yusuf is the owner of Grand Pinnacle Luxury Suites in Maiduguri.
Interestingly, on the board of Grand Pinnacle Luxury Hotels Limited is Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari, chairman of the Senate Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes Committee.
In 2020, Judge Ijeoma Ojukwu of a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the permanent confiscation of approximately N500 million that the retired naval officer stole while serving as a military officer.
The EFCC had told the court that three of the seven accounts were operated in the name of a company, Bitmas Enterprise, at Zenith Bank, while two were in Yusuf’s name at the defunct Skye Bank, now Polaris Bank.
In 2018, after the court granted a provisional confiscation order for the money and ordered the anti-corruption agency to publish the order in a national newspaper for any interested party to claim the money, Mr. Yusuf filed a counter-affidavit, claiming ownership of the money with claims that it was obtained through legitimate means.
However, the court ignored the claims of Yusuf, whose previous job description in the naval administration involved verifying and authenticating documents before payments while maintaining custody of the account balance.
EFCC investigations revealed that the former naval officer was linked to seven accounts (corporate and personal) with the following details: Zenith Bank accounts 1011701670 (N32,268,758.50); 9000617386 (N320,132,530.57); 1011904172 (N2,414,034.39); 5360132431 ($ 34,875.00); 5060017083 (£ 15,050.00) – all payable to Bitmas Enterprises.
Two other accounts, 2120012772 ($ 57,080.38) and 1060100885 (N2,390,987.69), were maintained at Skye Bank in the name of Mr. Yusuf.