The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Office of the Inspector General of the Global Fund to facilitate exchange of information on fraud and abuse of office in relation to grant programs managed by the Global Fund targeted at fighting Tuberculosis and Malaria in Nigeria.
Under the MoU which was signed on behalf of the Fund and the Commission by the duo of Norbert Hauser, head of the office of the Inspector General, Global Fund and Ibrahim Lamorde, Chairman, EFCC, respectively, both parties will cooperate by providing information and intelligence to each other, which may help in the investigation and prosecution of anyone suspected of engaging in fraud and abuse of Global Fund grant funds and related criminal activity.
Terms of the agreement stipulates that both parties will consult regularly, in particular to exchange information regarding new areas of potential cooperation and other joint activities falling within their respective mandates. All information exchanged will be treated as strictly confidential.
The Memorandum stipulates that any information exchanged will not be used as evidence in any judicial proceedings without the express prior consent of the party providing that information.
In addition to exchanging financial and criminal intelligence, both parties may cooperate in other ways, including the exchange of general information regarding fraud, abuse and other economic crimes.
Lamorde, who said the Commission is not just helping the Global Fund in signing the MoU, said “What we are doing is helping ourselves. It is our moral obligation to give you our support and cooperation.”
On his part, Hauser said that the signing of the Memorandum with Nigeria, a country where Global Fund grants are being distributed on a large scale, is sequel to similar agreements with Malawi and Tanzania. “This is also an expression of country ownership in its most positive form”, he explained.
Meanwhile, EFCC has received an interim order from Justice F.A Olubanjo of the Federal High Court, Umuahia, Abia State, to take possession of 44 assets of the eight persons who allegedly defrauded Union Bank of Nigeria Plc of about N700million.
The order also covers the freezing of the account of one of the accused person with a credit balance of N30million.
The eight accused persons are Chikezie Neoma Agbara, Amarachi Iroha, Lucy Nwosu and Glo Chizzy International Limited. Others are Nneamaka Raphael Iheabuchi, Nnamdi Nwosu, Ikechukwu Nwosu, Chukwu Chikezie and Oliver Ogbujie.
The accused were arraigned in two separate charges that border criminal conspiracy, stealing by fraudulent conversion, money laundering and fraud to the tune of about N700million.
The EFCC had on January 4, 2013 sought the leave of the court to seize their assets – in line with sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004.
Section 28 reads: “Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.”
Justice Olubanjo in granting the interim forfeiture request ordered as follows, “That all assets as listed in schedule 1 to 5 of the ex-parte originating summons being proceeds of economic and financial crimes held directly by or for the benefit of or on behalf of the persons named in schedule 1 to 5 of this ex-parte originating summons be temporarily attached pending the conclusion of trial in charge Nos. FHC/UM/CR/30/2012-FRN VS. Chikezie Neoma Agbara and 3 Others; and FHC/UM/CR/77/2012-FRN VS. Chikezie Neoma Agbara and 6 Others”
The Judge also ordered the manager or “ such other person in control of the financial institution in schedule 6 of this ex-parte originating summons i.e. Zenith Bank Plc, to freeze all accounts held directly, indirectly, by or for the benefit, and on behalf of one Oliver Ogbujie within Nigeria more particularly account No. 2006909505.”
A breakdown of the assets affected by this order is as follows: A four bedroom apartment at World Bank Hosing Estate, Umuahia; twin two bedroom apartment at Amakama, Umuahia; one storey building of four flats at Umudike, Umuahia; an undeveloped plot of land at Government Station layout, Umuahia; another undeveloped parcel of land at Udume Ibeku Umuahia North LGA; uncompleted Hotel project at Winners Road, near House of Assembly Complex, Umuahia; a 2002 ModelToyota Camry and 2002 Model Toyota Corolla cars – all belonging to Chikezie Agbara
The properties belonging to Nneamaka Raphael Ibeabuchi include, five bedroom duplex with two rooms Boys Quarters at Umuagoro, Umudike, Umauhia; a block of five self-contained students Hostel at Umuagoro, Umudike, Umauhia; 3-bedroom bungalow at Plot UM/964, Health Centre Road, World Bank Housing Estate, Umuahia, among other assets.
Assets belonging to Nnamdi Nwosu include, one storey uncompleted block of 16-room students residential apartment at Unuahu/ Ofeke Ndum Ibeku, Umudeke Umuahia. A parcel of land at Umuohu Azueke, Umudike, Umuahia belonging to Ikechukwu Nwosu was also attached.