Facts have emerged on how top officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) framed up Chief Emmanuel Nwude and Mrs Amaka Anajemba, charging them with using Advance Fee Fraud (aka 419) to defraud a Brazilian Bank, Banco Noroeste SA of $242million.
Nwude and Anajemba were in early 2000s convicted of the crime and served out jail terms in Ikoyi prisons.
However, Pointblanknews.com investigations have revealed that Nwude and Anajemba may have been wrongly convicted.
The investigations uncovered a grand conspiracy by high ranking government officials, particularly those in the EFCC. Most of them made millions of US dollars from.the controversial case.
One official of note is EFCC chairman at the time, Nuhu Ribadu. Another is Babajide Ogundipe, a lawyer, who claimed he was briefed to recover a judgment debt against Anajemba and Nwude. It was Ogundipe who invented the theory that Nwude and Anajemba wanted to sell an airport to a Brazilian Bank, Banco Noroeste SA.
Documents have revealed that the fraud was committed by one Nelson Sakaguchi a staff of the Banco Noroeste SA, his wife and one Naresh Asnani. Sagaguchi and Asnani were convicted in the United States for the crime and have served out their terms.
Checks revealed that Sakaguchi had an extensive global business network, and had transferred some money to his business partners in Nigeria. The money passed through a clearing house owned by Nwude. During his trials in the US, Sakaguchi alleged that he used part of the stolen funds in an investment in an airport in Nigeria. An audit report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers Auditores Independentes S.C also confirmed that Nwude and a few others received money from Sakaguchi’s partners.
A High Court of London Chancery Division had earlier cleared the 18th defendant in the case (Emmanuel Nwude) of culpability in the crime. The court held that Nwude’s involvement was the payment he got from.his money transfer services.
However, Ribadu and his accomplices picked up the airport story, ignored all the facts established by the courts in Brazil, US and London, twisted the story and went ahead to hound Anajemba, Nwude and their families into prisons, sold their properties, and shared the proceeds amongst themselves.
Pointblanknews.com recalls that a few years ago, minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun stated thatt only about N50 million out of the over N800billion said to have been recovered by EFCC was accounted for and that the difference remained unaccounted for.
Interestingly, Rubadu’s successor in EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri once gave an insight into the disposal of forfeited assets. According to Waziri, upon assumption of office, she discovered the absence of records of the recovered assets and accounts for the proceeds of the sale. She pointedly accused Ribadu of leaving the proceeds of assets of persons in the hands of “thieves.”
In the course of investigating the whereabouts of the over N800 billion EFCC chairman Nuhu Ribadu claimed was recovered, Pointblanknews.com stumbled on the true story of the alleged $242 mllion scam.
The true Story.
The truth of the case is contained in facts made public in cases that have been judicially acted upon in courts in Brazil, United State of America, United Kingdom and Switzerland. They are contained in the affidavits deposed to by one Luiz Teixera Pinto and the audit report by Price Water House.
The reports revealed that certsin shareholders of Banco Noroeste SA where desirous of selling their shares for USD 450m. Meanwhile, tucked in the bank’s books was a debt of USD242 million. The debt consisted of $190m wire transfers, $22m arbitrage, $9million spent on Macunda priest and sundry fees.
The shareholders subsequently sold their holding less the debt with an agreement that the debt be assigned to them to enable them recover the balance of sale price. This debt was found to have been incurred by the Manager of the Bank at Cayman Island who in conjunction with other staff stole same and transferred the money to his company, Stanton Development Corporation.He also invested in properties in Florida. USA, and transferred about $122m to a strawman discovered to be Naresh Asnani a British Indian. The transfers were made in primary transfers to companies in USA, Switzerland, Hong Kong and London. Some secondary transfers got to Nigeria.Thereafter, the assignees began tracing the monies and initiated worldwide criminal investigation over the fraud in Brazil, Switzerland, Hong Kong and London where judicial proceedings were conducted.
In the process, Sakaguchi was found guilty alongside Naresh Asnani and Asrandi Asnani by the Swiss Court following investigation that led to tracing the sum of $122m to Asnani and $4.7m to Sakaguchi.
The Grand Conspiracy
Pointblanknews.com investigation revealed that shortly after the judgment of the High Court of London Chancery Division exonerating Chief Nwude and Florence Nwude of any complicity in the fraud and liability to pay any monies to the claimants, Ogundipe approached Nwude with a blackmail to “settle” him. Nwude walked Ogundipe out if his house. An infuriated Ogundipe petitioned the Inspector General of Police, presumably on behalf of Nelson Sakaguchi.
Acting on the petition, a high ranking police officer demanded a bribe of N20 million from Emmanuel Nwude to let him “live in peace”. After much pressure, Nwude reluctantly offered N10 million. The DIG who was assigned the petition rejected the money, leading to a charge against him and Mrs Anajemba at a magistrate court.
At the magistrate court, Nwude and Anajemba were charged with obtaining money from Sakaguchi. Since Sakaguchi was not in Nigeria, Ogundipe got some persons who claimed to be shareholders of the Brazilian Bank to initiate a fresh petition to the IGP.
Interestingly, the bank’s auditor, Luis Teixera Pinto had in his affidavit before the High Court of Lagos State restated the fact that the monies that came to Nigeria were in secondary transfers and that the claimants were not interested in pursuing any further recoveries in Nigeria.
Whilst the trial was ongoing at the magistrate court in Lagos, the National Assembly passed into law the EFCC Act of 2002, which came into force in August 2002. In April 2003, ostensibly at the behest of newly-fomed EFCC, TheNews magazine published a story that some Nigerians had defrauded a Brazilian Bank of $242m, and that the bank has on account of the fraud, gone under. A former editor of the magazine told Pointblanknews.com that they approached Nwude to pay to kill the story, but that he insisted he had done no wrong. Nwude was mentioned as the principal suspect in the matter. Whilst the media trial was on, EFCC declared him wanted.
EFCC officers at the time confirmed that Nwude appeared in their Abuja office a day after he was declared wanted, and punctured all the allegations in the media report.
“Our chairman (Ribadu) took his (Nwude) statement and kept visiting him in the premises at nights and would spend hours discussing with Nwude,” an officer attached to Ribadu at the time told Pointblanknews.com.
Pointblanknews.com gathered that a major part of Ribadu’s discussions with Nwude dwelt on his ambition to succeed Tafa Balogun as Inspector General of Police, and begged the suspect to assist him “in any way possible”.
It was specifically gathered that Ribadu begged Nwude to writed a petition against the Chief Judge of FCT High Court that the judge collected a $300,000 bribe from him.
Ribadu had also begged Nwude to claim that Tarfa Balogun demanded and received N100 milllion as gratifiation from him. When all the entreaties failed, Ribadu, it was gathered, demanded Nwude to pay $40 million to Ogundipe who wrote the petition against him as complainant, so that the matter could be settled and he would be released from detention. He again reportedly refused, referring Ribadu to the judgement of the London Court on the matter.
Apparently angered, Ribadu changed strategy, proffering charges against Nwude, first before Justice Gumi of the Abuja High Court. EFCC also approached the Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Anuri Chikere to apply for an interim forfeiture of the properties belonging to Nwude and companies he had interests.
EFCC argued that only the Federal High Court had jurisdiction as the properties were located in several states of the Federation.
Shortly after granting the order, EFCC handed them to the law firm of Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe and Belgore to manage. The letter of instruction from EFCC to SOOB was signed by Director of Operations, Ibrahim Lamorde. When Justice Gumi of the FCT high court was set to determine the issue of jurisdiction, the charge was abbruptly withdrawn and transferred to Lagos and charged before the High Court Lagos state presided over by Justice Oyewole.
When Nwude’s counsel Chief G.O.K Ajayi SAN raised the issue of the competence of the EFCC to administer criminal code offences among other issues raised, Justice Oyewole, after weeks of delays, dismissed the objection.
The judges obvious bias, it was gathered, led to a frustrated Ajayi, and Chief FRA Williams, counsel to Aajemba, pulling out of the case.
Nwude refused to accept EFCC recommended lawyers and retained Alex Iziyon and later Olisa Agbakoba SAN, who suddenly stopped representing him after collecting his professional fees fully. Nwude was pressurised by EFCC to engage the services of Rickey Tarfa SAN which he did under duress.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges from the onset and was denied bail by the court presided over by Justice Oyewole, and remanded in prison custody from 2003-2004. In a whole year, the EFCC managed to produce six out of the 43 witnesses listed in the proof of evidence.
“For Mrs. Anajemba, she was intimidated to share the family assets for her liberty in the guise of a plea bargain. She buckled, but Nwude refused. The persecution continued”, offered a former operative of the anti-graft agency.
“Under detention, we, on the orders of our chairman and Ogundipe, subjected Nwude to several forms of mental torture. We would arrest his aged aged parents and relations and make them.pile pressure on Nwude to enter a term of settlement with us”, he added.
On the EFCC-appointed Ricky Tarfa, he said, “The reason we appointed for him Tarfa was to manipulate him. Ricky was one of the most successful agents we used to make Nwude accept to change his plea from one of not guilty to that of guilt insisting that it was the best option open to him in the circumstances to avoid further harassment of his family and secure his release from detention.”
Continued the agent, “Eventually we made Nwude succumb to pressure and change his plea from not guilty to one of guilty against his personal conviction and better judgment to charge No. ID/92c/2004 which was only read to him in the Court hence he could not have known the full content of the charge.”
He added, “Sadly, contrary to the enticement of a plea bargain touted by the EFCC and Nwude’s counsel Tarfa in convincing him to change his plea, the trial court still handed him the maximum sentence of five years without option of fine for a charge under Section 419 of the Criminal Code which he had completely served.
“The court also made order for forfeiture of properties vide a schedule that was not made known to Nwude nor related to the charges read to him and that included properties and assets belonging to other persons and companies related to him. The trial syndicate describing him as the beneficiary- owner of the said properties,’ adfing, “good that Nwude immediately appealed the obnoxious judgment
In Nwude’s appeal, he averred that he was well informed to know that he had no power to compromise or effect transfer of a company’s property without the resolution of the Board of Directors of the company. He was also well informed to know that a company can only execute documents or authenticate the same by execution by a Director and Secretary under its seal. The companies also appealed against the judgment.
According to Nwude, he later discovered that his counsel Ricky Tarfa betrayed him after reached an agreement with the triola of Ribadu, Ogundipe and Prosecutor Rotimi Jacobs on how to share the proceeds. He realized from the disposal of his properties, especially the Russell Centre in Abuja for which Tarfa received over US$500,000.
Pointblanknews.com checks revealed that he only thing standing in the way of sharing the “loot” is the appeal lodged at the court of appeal by Nwude’s new counsel Dr. Alex Iziyon SAN.
In the appeal, Nwude stated that on several occasions Rotimi Jacobs came to pressurize and harass him to withdraw the appeal failing which he would bring more charges against him.
The appeal notwithstanding, Nuhu Ribadu and his accomplices began to sell off the properties. To confirm Rotimi Jacobs’ threat, said Nwude, four more charges were initiated against him by EFCC after he had served out his term.in prison.
They include: Charge at the Federal High Court for non-disclosure of interest in companies and properties listed in the charge; Another at the State High Court alleging that he kidnapped a photo journalist; Another at the state High Court alleging that he bribed Nuhu Ribadu. He was charged with his lawyer, Emmanuel Ofulue; and another case arising from the fraudulent sale of his property.
Nwude said the information was made available to him and made public via charge No.ID/102c/2006 and thst the proof of evidence thereof revealed that the officers of the EFCC particularly its chairman, Ribadu, Rotimi Jacobs and Babajide Ogundipe entered into a financial arrangements for the compromise of the Court, EFCC officials and his solicitor to ensure that the instruments of the state, the EFCC is used for purposes other than that it was set to achieve and for their personal interests.
Pointblanknews.com checks revealed that Ribadu misinformed the general public that Nwude defrauded a Brazillian Bank of $242million contrary to the truth of the matter as contained in the suit filed by the Leo Wallace Cockrane and 33 others against Sagaguchi.
Ribadu obtained an interim forfeiture order of the property known as Russel Centre in Abuja and handed over the management to the law firm of Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe & Belgore to manage and the proceeds of rent from the management was shared between Ribadu, the law firm, Rotimi Jacobs and persons unknown; that Ribadu and co. also sold the properties listed in the schedule to the judgement of Oyewole J. in suit No. ID/92c/2005 in which one Mr. Sagakhuchi was named as a victim, and shared the monies amongst themselves.
EFCC chair Ribadu and others executed the instruments of transfers of the properties as Attorneys to Leo Wallace Cockrane and 33 others and not Mr. Sakaguchi that was named in the charge, and the monies they made on this transaction were partly transferred to the account of Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe & Belgore domiciled with Standard Chartered Bank Plc at Ajose Adeogun branch whilst part were laundered to overseas banks in favour of William Richey and from whence it is distributed to the groups individuals accounts.
EFCC officials told Pointblanknews.com that they looted Nwude’s personal properties; expensive attires, Persian rugs, N1.5million cash, 500,000:00 British Pounds, and eight (8) Cartons of Crystal Champagne and Don Perignon. Also reportedly looted was a 60KVA F.G Wilson generator, shirts, ties, belts, suits, trousers and other apparels. One if his looted cars, a Mercedes G.500 was last spotted in Ibadan with Nuhu Ribadu whilst the others are yet to be accounted for.
Pointblanknews.com investigation revealed that at the time of Nwude’s arrest and detention by EFCC, the agency had no powers to take over existing cases from the Director of Public Prosecution of Lagos State or the court as it did in the Anajemba case. EFCC also had no power to administer offences created by the criminal code. Similarly, the Federal Attorney General that prosecuted Anajemba for the offences created by S.419 and S.519 of the criminal Code at the High Court of Lagos State also had no powers to do so.
Dispute over the sharing of the proceeds of crime by the Ribadu and gang
An EFCC source told Pointblanknews.com of a conspiracy between Ribadu and a Lagos based law firm to use the commission to expropriate the properties of the citizens based on information made available by the Lagos lawyer.“To achieve their objective”, said the official, they use the media extensively to convict the victims in the eye of the public and having achieved that, they embark on the scrambling for the properties, selling and sharing the monies amongst themselves.”
Problems, he said, arose over the sharing of the monies made from the sale of the properties. This led to the arrest and trial of Rickey Tarfa in 2006.
“After Nwude’s conviction was the trial of Anajemba’s counsel, Re: Suit No. ID/102c/ 2006, Federal Republic of Nigeria V Ricky Tarfa. He was charged with obtaining money by false pretenses and Advance fee fraud. A charge similar to the one he had handled in Suit No. Federal Republic of Nigeria V. Chief Emmanuel Nwude & amp; Ors,” stared the agent.
Pointblanknews.com recalls that back then in 2006, the story was that Tarfa was witch -hunted by the Federal Government of Nigeria for representing the then Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The truth was not known to the public then, save for the impression created by the EFCC.
Pointblanknews.com has however unearthed the truth. According to confessional statements made by Ogundipe who claimed he was briefed to recover a judgment debt against some Nigerians and others in respect of a foreign judgment noted that he conspired with Ribadu as Chairman of the EFCC to act by agreement on fee sharing – sharing of proceeds of crime. Ribadu, in order to oblige Ogundipe the use of his office directed him to Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, the EFCC prosecutor, agreeing to fee sharing with him before they could commence action against the accused. Upon reaching a fee sharing agreement with Mr. Jacobs as directed by Ribadu, the accused and the other defendants in the London suit were arrested and their properties expropriated to them.
It was gathered that Hanafi O. Hanafi, a lawyer with the law firm of Sofunde, Osake, Ogundipe & Belgore had also testified how he got Prince (Dr.) Akinrutan of Obat Oil and Petroleum Ltd to buy Russel Centre, property belonging to Nwude at the cost of N3.2billion. He also said that a sum of fifty million naira was removed by Ricky Tarfa for contingencies while Ogundipe received the balance of N50,000,000 (fifty million naira).
This was the substance and reason for the information on which Rickey Tarfa was arrested by EFCC and charged to Court. It’s simply a dispute over the sharing of the proceeds realized from the sale of Nwude’s property called Russel Centre. In spite the fact that the property was not a subject of any final forfeiture order, it was nonetheless forcefully taken by EFCC and handed over to Ogundipe who sold it to Prince (Dr.) Akinrutan of Obat Oil and Petroleum Ltd.
“Meanwhile, as the property was being sold, the real victims had recovered their money in Brazil, UK and in London but in Nigeria the same money N190m was also claimed and awarded by the court. Anajemba was forced to pay N80m, Nwude forfeited N110m and was still jailed”, declared the former agent.
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