Story by Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has accused a businesswoman and socialite, Hajiya Bola Shagaya, of frustrating its efforts to conclude investigations into a suspicious Unity Bank account with a balance of N1, 902,673,399.93.
The anti-graft agency said it invited the businesswoman, but she refused to honour the invitation, “thus making us unable to conclude investigation and file a charge against her.”
A female operative of the EFCC, Oghare Ogbole, stated this in a counter-affidavit, which the anti-graft agency filed before the court in opposition to the suit filed by Shagaya challenging the freezing of the Unity Bank account.
The EFCC had placed a No Debit Order on the account, following an interim order granted by Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos on December 29, 2016.
The businesswoman, however, filed an application, urging the judge to lift the freezing order, saying she was not given fair hearing before her account was frozen.
But the EFCC opposed the application, insisting that the freezing order was lawfully obtained.
The anti-graft agency claimed that the N1.9billion found in the Unity Bank account was the balance of a total of N3,305,150,000, which Shagaya received as “founder fees” on behalf of a Non Governmental Organisation, “Women for Change” being spearheaded by former First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan.
The EFCC in the counter affidavit said the N3.3billion was realised through Shagaya’s “fraudulent activities in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation,” where she allegedly “influenced the fraudulent allocation of Dual Purpose kerosene to Index Petrolube Africa Limited, with the aid of the former First Lady, Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan.”
According to the EFCC, the N3.3billion was paid by Index Petrolube Africa Limited. and its sister company, Autodex Nigeria Limited.
The two companies, it said, belong to one Honourable Ezeani ThankGod, adding that the reason for the N3.3billion payment was to “fraudulently facilitate Dual Purpose Kerosene to ThankGod’s company, Index Petrolube Africa Limited.”
The anti-graft agency further claimed that out of the N3.3billion, Shagaya had “paid a cumulative sum of N1,212,000,000 to the former First Lady, Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan, through her account, ‘Women for Change Initiative’ account domiciled in Diamond Bank, to which the former First Lady is the sole signatory.”
It said after paying N1.2billion to Patience, Shagaya kept the balance of N1.9billion for herself by “warehousing” same in her personal bank account in Unity Bank.
The EFCC said it was on this basis that it secured an order of Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos on December 29, 2016 to freeze the account.
It said Shagaya would have been charged to court, but she had not honoured its invitation to enable it to conclude investigation.