The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), that arraigned Yusuf Agabi and some directors in the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has revealed through its principal witness Kabiru Paloma how the sum of N805million was serially shared.
Paloma who was personal assistant to Agabi and one Ayinla Abibu, a former director Finance and Accounts (DFA), informed the court at the resumed hearing of the matter before Justice Husseini Baba of the Federal Capital Territory High Court (FCT) in Abuja, that the mopping up ‘was pure stealing’.
During his cross examination by counsel to the ICPC, Paul Bassi, Paloma told the court how he suddenly discovered that his personal accounts were frozen by the anti-graft agency sometime in 2014.
The witness who was used as a conduit pipe for illicit transfer of funds said he informed Agabi his former boss of how his accounts were being used by the ministry in 2013 to remit funds. He claimed that Agabi shunned all his calls and never responded to his text messages hence he decided to “spill the beans”
Paloma told the court how Ayinla who became Director of Finance and Accounts (DFA) in 2014 instructed that a balance of N100 million be left of the balance of 2013 constituency project that was being ‘mopped up’ .
Paloma alleged that the DFA, Ayinla ordered a transfer of N60million to his account while the remaining N40million was to be shared amongst staff of the accounts department namely: one Mr Dickson, Kabiru Paloma, James Ihenacho and Daniel Oba, while a portion of the money was shared to staffs of the Central Pay Office (CPO) of the ministry.
Furthermore, the witness also alleged that, Ayinla directed the ‘mopping up’ of another balance of N11million so that it won’t reflect in 2014. Instead of mopping up N11 million, Paloma admitted transferring N10 million which was shared among three people including Ayinla.
When asked to elaborate on the ‘mopping up’ scheme, Paloma noted that “it was stealing”. That the mopping up was done through his five companies namely: Kapola Nig Ltd, Sindabab Nig.Ltd, KP Energy Solution, Balang Construction Nig Ltd, Nadia Collections Nig. Ltd and my personal account with EcoBank”.
“The DFA insisted that the remaining N1million should be mopped up, making the balance N503million which had been there for two months without anyone knowing”.
Trouble started when Ayinla, having been briefed directed that N333million should be taken out of the money, of which Ayinla out of greed alleged to have demanded that the sum of N233million should be paid to him.
On checking with the CBN on the remaining N100million, Paloma said he discovered an addition of N192million, and decided to transfer the whole funds into his company accounts without the consent of Ayinla. The bubble bust when Ayinla requested to pay a contractor N150million and realised there was no money there . “When he asked me I had taken the money”.
Paloma told the court that it was during his arrest, detention, interrogation and investigation by the ICPC operatives into the misappropriated N805million that other stolen money in the ministry surfaced in which Yusuf Agabi’s name surfaced.
Yusuf Agabi and four others are facing prosecution for fraudulently obtaining money from the bank account of Federal Ministry of Niger Delta. Affairs.
Justice Baba adjourned further hearing of the case to 27 November and 4 December 2015.