[Punch – Olalekan Adetayo and Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja]
In a continuation of the probe into how the Peoples Democratic Party allegedly bribed some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission before the 2015 presidential election, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested an oil tycoon, Mr. Laitan Adesanya, for his alleged role in the $115m (N23bn) bribe funds.
It was learnt on Sunday that Adesanya, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Lenoil Nigeria Limited, was arrested by the EFCC in Lagos on Friday.
The anti-graft agency had, last week, arrested the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo and the bank’s Head of Operations, Mr. Martin Izuogbe.
Adesanya was alleged to have handed $1.85m to the bank based on the instruction of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Other companies, which allegedly handed over money to the bank MD, included Northern Belt Gas Company Limited ($60m); Auctus Integrated ($17.8m); and Midwestern Oil and Gas ($9.5m).
Diezani was also alleged to have given the bank MD $26m in cash which was ultimately disbursed to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission ahead of the 2015 presidential election as bribes.
A reliable source at the EFCC said Adesanya was in the custody of the commission in Lagos and was being grilled as of Friday.
He said, “We are asking him about the $1.85m he dropped and what purpose it was supposed to serve.”
According to the United Kingdom Financial Times, Adesanya is an international oil businessman, who has been in the business for decades.
The newspaper states that Adesanya made huge profits during the military administrations of the 1980s and 1990s.
Also, sources within the EFCC have denied claims by Fidelity Bank Plc that it reported all its financial dealings to the appropriate authorities
The bank had, in a statement last week, stated that “transactions were duly reported as required by the regulators and the bank is cooperating fully with the authorities on the investigation.”
However, the source said the $26m, which the MD allegedly collected directly from Diezani, was neither reported to the Central Bank of Nigeria nor the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, which is domiciled in the EFCC.
The source added, “The $26m cash that was collected from Diezani was not deposited into any account. So, how could they say they reported it? They didn’t report anything because the money was given to the bank for safekeeping and there was no intention for it to be used to open an account.
“If it was put in the system, then, there must be records. Who brought the money? They don’t know. They were supposed to have reported the transaction to the CBN and NFIU, which is domiciled in the EFCC but there is no such report.
“The money was meant for distribution to INEC officials. When the bank MD was collecting $26m cash from a serving minister, why didn’t he ask her where she got the money from?”