EXCLUSIVE: TOP CEOs GIVING FG CORRUPTION TAG (PART 1): NIRSAL BOSS ALIYU ABBATI ABDULHAMEED

Top CEOs Giving FG Corruption Tag: Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed (1)

By Our Reporter

Appearing before the Nigerian Senate on February 24, 2021, the new Czar of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, looked not only confident, but spoke assuredly and was in no time confirmed as the chairman of the commission in a voice vote by the lawmakers.

Bawa told senators that his 16 years at the EFCC had prepared him well for the top job.

“I am versed in the investigation of advance fee fraud, money laundering, public sector corruption and other financial crime-related issues,” he said.

Bawa could not have come at a better time than now when it seems that high profile cases like the P&ID $10 billion arbitration case is still ongoing as well as those of 21 other hair raising allegations of graft, corruption and money laundering are persisting.

It is instructive to note that in the EFCC’s own in-house publication of January, it ran with the screaming banner, ‘2021: Faces To Watch,’ in its anti-graft war.

In the list of the EFCC ALERT magazine, it featured ex-governors, serving senators, former ministers, party stalwarts, public administrators and a host of other top individuals.

Prominent of those are a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, SAN, Senate Chief Whip and former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Benue State and a serving senator, Gabriel Suswam and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.

Others in the list are; Winifred Oyo-Ita, former Head of Service of the Federation, Andrew Yakubu, former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Adesola Amosu, a former Chief of Air Staff and a retired Air Marshal of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, as well as Abdulrasheed Maina, Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team.

Those further named include; Murtala Nyako, a former governor of Adamawa State, Olisa Metuh, a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Tanimu Turaki, a former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, George Turnah, a former Special Adviser to Dan Abia, erstwhile managing director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Muktar Ramalan Yero, former Governor of Kaduna State.

But one pending case which the commission should not overlook are the telling allegations against Mr. Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).

It should be noted that sometime in June 20, 2020 the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Mallami (SAN), had given the indication that he did not stop anti-corruption agencies from investigating alleged fraud in Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending.

 

Malami in a statement by his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, at that time was reacting to uproar in some sections of the media of a possible cover-up by his office.

The allegation was that Malami had ordered security agencies to cover up an ongoing multi-billion-naira fraud at NIRSAL, stressing that the AGF was frustrating the probe of the fraud and had ordered security agencies to stop the investigation.

But Malami said the directive contained in the letter was for continuation and not stoppage of the probe.

The statement which quoted relevant portions of the letter stated, “It is pertinent to submit for all intent and purposes that the statement as quoted above does not convey the mischievous conclusion of stopping the investigation of NIRSAL as portrayed by an online Media called Sahara Reporters.

“The clear and unambiguous directives of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation was that the other several agencies conducting parallel investigation on NIRSAL in respect of the same subject matter should stay action.”

Owing to the monumental acts of alleged corruption, it would do well for the EFCC to take a forensic look at the books of the NIRSAL as not doing so leaves the lingering suspicion that certain individuals, Abdulhameed, inclusive, are above the law.

For a year running plus, insiders have insisted that the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the NIRSAL, Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed, runs a corrupt organisation that is intrinsically nepotistic and has been undermining the agriculture value chain by not loaning money to farmers.

Launched in 2011 and incorporated in 2013 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), NIRSAL was set up to be a dynamic, holistic USD500 million public-private initiative which will catalyse the flow of finance and investments into fixed agricultural value chains.

However, highly placed sources, with avalanche of transactions bordering on corruption and money laundering, show that the organisation has been so badly run in recent times on Hameed’s watch.

It was therefore not a surprise that sometime on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, protesters holding aloft banners and placards inscribed with messages like: “Government should stop the stealing of farmers’ money by NIRSAL,” “NIRSAL is killing farmers,” “Anchor Borrowers program is a lie,” besieged NIRSAL’s head office on Plot 1581 Tigris crescent in the upscale Maitama area of Abuja, while calling for Hameed’s sack.

At that time, the allegation was that the NIRSAL boss “acquired two cars: Lexus Jeep and Land Cruiser. He has started using the Lexus Jeep in Abuja but the Land Cruiser is meant to be used in Yola. He actually bought two of them for about N180 million. He bought his previous Land Cruiser at the same time with the EDs (Executive Directors). He controls about 8 SUVs all by himself at the moment.

“He has one SUV in Kano, two in Lagos, two in Adamawa, one in his house in Abuja, his wife uses one and he just bought two bulletproof SUVs now.”

The insiders also alleged that, “Aliyu (the CEO’s first name) used many phoney companies that were barely three months in existence to perpetrate this. Many of such fraudulent practices have been happening in the financial institution since Aliyu took over its management.

“Meanwhile, there is also an ongoing investigation into another N4.3 billion of inflated personnel costs especially on the NIRSAL’s field offices located in each state of the federation and the FCT.

“The field offices staff numbering about 500 have always been paid less than 50% of their monthly pay while the remaining 50% amounting to over N200 million is being siphoned on a monthly basis,” another source offered.

But these were little compared to new revelations. Some disturbing allegations under the title: ALIYU ABDULHAMEED, IDRIS AWEDA AND MUHAMMED ABDULKADIR DIVERSION OF NIRSAL FUNDS show that NIRSAL’s Head of Finance, Idris Issa Aweda, as a conduit is on record for routinely using three personal bank accounts: FCMB (4986133010), GTB (0245155058), and Stanbic IBTC for receiving proceeds of fraud on behalf of the Managing Director.

In spite of the fact that NIRSAL is not a security agency, Aliyu Abdulhameed fraudulently orders payment of money for “advance for security challenge in the North-East on the farms fields”, “security challenge in the North- Central on the farms fields”, “advance for external security issue armored car” and “advance for security challenge in the South-East on the farms fields”. These illegal funds are directly wired into the private bank accounts of Aweda.

On the 16th day of August, 2017, at 4:50 PM, NIRSAL paid N8 million into the GTB account number 0245155058 of Aweda being payment for “security”. Also, on October 6, 2017, at 4:56 PM, NIRSAL credited Aweda’s GTB account with the sum of N8 million for “security imprest”. As at October 2019, Aweda still received money in his personal account. At 9:31 AM, on October 23, 2019, over N12 million was paid into Aweda’s FCMB account 4986133027. This is despite the fact that neither NIRSAL nor Mr. Idris Aweda is a security agency. Find below some of the transactions that constitute part of the over One Billion Naira that have been so far diverted by these individuals in the name of “Security”. These monies are moved from the accounts of Idris Aweda to that of Bureau De Change for foreign currency which is always handed over to Muhammed Abdulkadir, the Personal Assistance to the ‘Ex’ MD, Aliyu Abdulhameed:

Muhammed Abdulkadir is believed to be involved in almost every shady transaction that happens in NIRSAL as a witness and a facilitator. He is also aware of a number of high end properties purchased by the MD as he facilitated the purchase of most of these properties, including houses in Maitama, Katampe, Eko Atlantic, Lagos, Germany (through one Baba Ali), the UK, Dubai, and South Africa as well as a massive plot of land on airport road Abuja, formerly owned by Diff Hospital, and a farmland in Gembu, Taraba State. Muhammed Abdulkadir has been aiding and abetting fraud to the tune of billions of Naira on behalf of the MD.

NB: Stay tuned for the concluding part including how millions was spent on some editors not too long ago in Lagos to buy their silence and how a journalists union is on a warpath with the NIRSAL.

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