The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has said that after a thorough investigation, the 1,034,515,000 USD alleged loot in the Nigerian Port Authority Account (0013670344) with Unity Bank was not found.
In a statement made available to TheNigeriaLawyer (TNL) signed by his Senior Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umaru Jibrilu Gwandu, AGF said the account does not even belong to the Nigerian Ports Authority.
A whistle Blower, Mr. John Okpurhe, had on 11th June, 2018 forwarded a hand-written letter to the Office of the AGF titled “NOTICE OF ALLEDGE (SIC) FRAUD OF 1,034,515,000 USD IN ACCOUNT NUMBER (0013670344) WITH UNITY BANK PLC” through the Law Firm of one Mammam Maiyaki & Co.
Mr. Okpurhe in the said letter alleged that the Nigerian Ports Authority operates an account containing looted funds amounting to the sum of USD $1,034,515,000.000 (one billion, thirty four million, five hundred and fifteen thousand United States Dollars).
However, Malami (SAN) said their findings does not establish the claims of Mr. John Okpurhe. He said:
“By way of setting machineries in motion and springing into action, on 13th June, 2018 the Office of the HAGF wrote a letter to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit requesting for forensic analysis of the account.
After thorough and due analyses of the account, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit replied the Office of the HAGF with the report of their findings in a letter on 22nd June, 2020. The following findings were made:
a) The Account number 0013670344 does not belong to the Nigeria Ports Authority. However, the agency has an account 0013680344 with the bank.
b) There is a pending litigation involving Nigerian Ports Authority (being the defendant/Judgment debtor/applicant), Aminu Ibrahim and Company & Gboye Ayoade and Company (being the plaintifs/Judgment creditors/respondents) and Unity Bank as well as 9 (nine) other banks (being garnishees) in suit No. FHC/L/CS/882/10.
c) The claim by Mr. Okpurhe that the account has $1,034,515 (one billion, thirty-four million, five hundred and fifteen thousand dollars only) was not found in the account.
d) The Most similar balance to the reported amount was $1,034,515 (One million, thirty four thousand, five hundred and fifteen dollars and nine cents only) which was closing balance on the account as at 31st October, 2017. This is almost a year before the whistleblower’s letter). And the highest balance in the account was never up to five million dollars as at December 10th 2007.
e) The sum of $939,019.79 (Nine hundred and thirty nine thousand, nineteen dollars and seventy nine cents) was the initial amount in the account as at 27th August, 2010 when the account was put to garnishee order, while the difference represents accrued interest over the period between 27th August, 2010 and 4th December, 2019 when the transfer was effected to the judgment creditors.
f) The account has been on Post No Debit (PND) since 2nd November, 2015.
g) Nigeria Port Authority operates an account with the Unity Bank no. 0013670344
h) Bank Statement revealed that on 4th December, 2019 that the sum of $1,057,772.03 (One Million, Fifty-seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Seventy Two Dollars, Three Cents was debited in favour of suit no. FHC/L/CS/582/2010 GARNISHEE ORDER NISI- AMINU IBRAHIM & CO & ANOR. VS NIGERIAN PORTS AUTHORITY SUIT.”
Malami added that his office notified the Whistle-Blower in writing via letter (Ref. No. HAGF/ARMU/WBO/2018/1 dated 27th July, 2018 of the Forensic Report of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit and that of Special Investigation Panel, the Head of Asset Recovery and Management Unit at the Office of the HAGF
However, Mr. Okpurhe was dissatisfied with the report and therefore forwarded another application stating that the said account is a cloned one. He further engaged a forensic auditing firm, Crescent House Limited via MOU in which the firm forwarded an application to the Office of the HAGF to be engaged as Whistle blower.
He also introduced a law firm, F.C Dikeocha and Associates to the Office of HAGF and later two others – JK Gadzama LLP and lastly Falana & Falana’s Chamber
At a point, according to the AGF, one Bunmi Naiyeju-Adelaiye (Mrs) (a staff at the Assets complained that her life was threatened by associates of the Whistle-Blower one Mr. Isreal Eshanekpe, with calls and text messages claiming that the alleged monies were in the recovery account and the Office of the HAGF has failed to pay his 5%. Also made allegation of fraud and compromise against the government officials involved in this recovery
Due to the desperation and behavior of the whistle blower his last solicitors, JK Gadzama LLP wrote him on 6th May, 2019 withdrew from the matter.
The statement of the AGF reads in part:
“The Office of the Nigerian Port Authority was consulted and in a letter dated 11th June, 2020, the Managing Director conveyed to the Office of the HAGF stated thus:
“Please note that the said account has never been operated by the Nigerian Ports Authority and this evidenced by letter reference UB/TICP/SO/TO dated February, 2020 from Unity Bank Plc which is a response to the Authority’s letter reference no: HQ/GMF/AD/B5/098 dated the 12th of February, 2020”.
“Perhaps, the “whistle-blower” got to know that on 4th December, 2019 the sum of $1,057,772.03 (One Million, Fifty-seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Seventy Two Dollars, Three Cents) and not $1,034,515,000 (one billion, thirty four million, five hundred and fifteen thousand United States Dollars) as claimed by the “whistle-blower” and was the account number 0013680344 and not account number 0013670344 as wrongly claimed by the “whistle-blower” and it was that amount that was debited in favour of suit no. FHC/L/CS/582/2010 GARNISHEE ORDER NISI- AMINU IBRAHIM & CO & ANOR. VS NIGERIAN PORTS AUTHORITY SUIT. He assumed, and wrongly so, that the money was recovered by the Federal Government and transferred into the
account because of his “whistle-blowing”.
“On 17th June, 2020 the Office of the HAGF received a letter written on 14th January, 2020 signed by Mr. Okuprhe John on 17th January, 2020 claiming non-payment of whistle blowing fees alleging that his “action resulted in the discovery and recovery (of the funds), by the Head of Assets Recovery and Management Unit in the Ministry of Justice (Hajia Ladidi Mohammed) on 11th June, 2018. I have since not received my reward as there have been series of deceits from the department even after the money has been recovered, hence this petition for the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice’s necessary action”.
“It is important that the general public note that the matter was already in court before the “whistle blower” wrote to the Office. Subsequent correspondence proved that. It was therefore, never an issue of whistle blowing. The account was put on PND and the amount was transferred to the plaintiffs following garnishee order.
“By Writ of Summons dated the 6th day of October, 2006 the plaintiffs commenced a suit against the Nigerian Port Authority claiming Orders of the Court directing the authority to pay the sum of USD $9,186,701 (nine million, one hundred and eighty-six thousand seven hundred and one United States Dollars) and N144,303, 981.00 (One hundred and forty-four million, three hundred and three thousand, nine hundred and eighty one naira) to the plaintiffs, being the alleged agreed fee for consultancy services rendered by the Plaintiffs and interest on the said sums at the rate the of 10%, from 27th April, 2004 until the final liquidation of the debt.
“From the forgoing, the man was not in any way connected with the whistle-blowing over the account. The transfer of the money was not due to his letters of alleged “whistle-blowing”. The monies were not transferred to the designated assets recovery account at the Central Bank of Nigeria. He cannot in any way claim any fee for the work that he was never responsible.”
Malami therefore concluded that his office is committed to fighting and enforcing whistleblower policy and cannot be deterred by desperation and campaign of calumny.
“The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice remains resolute to the fight against corruption, enforcement of whistle-blowing policy and ensure that no whistleblower is short-changed having done what is legally acceptable in the interest of the public good.
“No amount of desperation or campaign of calumny will deter us or make the Office of the HAGF alter the laid down procedure of doing things in accordance with the extant laws and regulations.”