Investigations Show Ogun Assembly Misappropriated N700m, Forged OBJ Company’s Document, EFCC Alleges - AMEBO ONLINE NEWSPAPER

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Investigations Show Ogun Assembly Misappropriated N700m, Forged OBJ Company’s Document, EFCC Alleges

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has alleged that Ogun State House of Assembly misap­propriated over N700 million meant for the running of the Assembly.

The commission further alleged that the lawmakers and Assembly staffers forged documents in the name of a company belonging to for­mer President Olusegun Obasanjo, Obasanjo Hold­ings Limited, and another company belonging to the former Speaker of the As­sembly, Suraj Isola Adekun­bi, Ashkash Nigeria Limited, to divert the fund.

The EFCC also accused the Assembly of using the receipts and invoices of non-existing corporate enti­ties to retire monies allegedly siphoned by some members of the Assembly.

Recalls that the commission invit­ed in December 2021 and January 2022 members of the Assembly, as part of the commission’s investigation into allegations of misman­agement of the Assembly’s fund.

However, instead of honouring the invitation, the Assembly, led by the Speaker, Olakunle Oluomo, challenged the invi­tation by dragging the EFCC before a Federal High Court in Abeokuta with an interloc­utory application to stop the invitation and investigation.

In its 18-paragraph counter-affidavit dated Feb­ruary 28, 2022, the EFCC alleged that it was only in­vestigating, according to its powers, an intelligence to the effect that some members of the Assembly conspired “amongst themselves to forge documents, steal and divert for their personal use over N700, 000, 000 allocated for the running of the Ogun State House of Assembly.’

The EFCC further alleged that the suspects in the case who were plaintiffs in a suite number FHC/AB/CS/8/22 carried out the alleged crim­inal acts by forging receipts and invoices “which they used to buttress the claim that the monies were spent for training of members of the House and other miscel­laneous expenses”.

According to the docu­ments marked EFCC 3, the anti-graft agency had written the Assembly since April 16, 2021, demanding for documents that could help in the investigation.

The agency said the doc­uments received from the Assembly on April 28, 2021, were full of discrepancies and needed to invite some officers to make clarification on the inconsistencies.

According to the docu­ments submitted before the court, the EFCC demon­strated how the Assembly allegedly forged documents belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corpo­ration (NNPC) mega station in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, an arm of Obasanjo Holdings Limited; and a fill­ing station belonging to the former Speaker, Ashkash Nigeria Limited.

The EFCC had written to the managing director of the mega station on January 24, requesting the management to confirm authenticity of 11 cash sale receipts with fig­ures totaling N4, 100, 000, all dated 2019.

But in a reply dated Janu­ary 26, 2022, marked exhibit EFCC 4 and signed by the dealer manager of the sta­tion, Ajibike Oluwaseun, a copy of which was also ob­tained by Daily Independent, the station confirmed that the receipts forwarded to the EFCC by the Assembly were not issued by the filling sta­tion.

It went ahead to attach copies of receipts issued be­tween 2018 and 2021, one of which was issued to the Ogun State Government House in 2018, which clearly differs from the receipts in question.

“We write to inform you that the receipts being in­vestigated were not issued by our filling station. Please find attached copies of the receipts we issued in 2018, 2019 and 2021 which differ from those in question,” the station said.

In a similar request, the anti-graft agency had also written to the Managing Di­rector of Ashkash Nig. Ltd demanding authentication of six receipt samples at­tached to the letter also dated January 24, 2022.

In a similar response from Ashkash Nigeria Limited dated January 27, 2022 and marked EFCC 2, the compa­ny denied the receipts, add­ing that no such transactions existed in its record.

The EFCC maintained that its preliminary investi­gations have revealed “that there are criminal schemes perpetuated inside the Ogun State House of Assembly by its members and officials including but not limited to forgeries of documents, falsification of financial re­cords and diversion of pub­lic funds to personal use by some elected members and civil servants.

“That investigation has also revealed that some cor­porate entities that purport­edly issued some invoices and receipts to the plaintiffs do not exist even though the receipts and invoices were used by the plaintiffs and their cohorts to justify the disbursement of funds.

“That in the record in year 2020, funds belonging to the Ogun State House of Assem­bly were spent on training and accommodation has shown to be false because there was lockdown during the time in review.”

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