Detectives have uncovered the alleged award of N279,675,796 phony contracts at a Federal Government agency.
Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency (NIHSA) Director-General Moses Oluwatoyin Beckley and seven others have been interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The others are the Deputy Director (Account), Mrs. Hauwa Ibrahim; Mary Abioye (Central Processing Officer); Ajayi F. Alaba (Asst. Director, Head, Internal Auditor); Jonathan Mbachi (Asst. Chief Executive Officer Accounts); Banwo Oladele Oluwale (Chief Accountant); Joseph Awe Olufemi (Head, Salary); and David Okon Williams (Chief Executive Officer, Accounts).
Also interrogated is the owner of Full Range Bureau de Change into whose account N130m was allegedly paid.
Detectives have recovered about N135, 567,047 out of the N279.6million.
A source, who was privy to the investigation, gave the details of how the fraud was allegedly perpetrated by a top official and the staff of the accounts department.
The source said: “In the course of investigation, various sums of money meant for capital projects were observed to have been diverted by various staff of the Accounts Department as well as the Director General of the agency, using their personal accounts or their private companies.
“They hid under the guise of paying for projects/contracts that were either non-existing or never executed. About N135, 567,047 has been recovered and registered as exhibit.
“A summary of the amounts linked to each suspect and duly admitted by the suspects in their cautionary statements are as follows:
Moses Beckley (DG NIHSA) – N40,000,000.00
Hauwa Ibrahim (Deputy Director Accounts) – N49,112,502.00
Mary Abioye (Central Processing Officer) – N47,546,000.00
Ajayi F. Alaba (Asst. Director, Head, internal Auditor) – N2,000,000.00
Jonathan Mbachi (Asst. Chief Executive Officer Accounts) – N305,000.00
Banwo Oladele Oluwale (Chief Accountant) – N612,047.00
Joseph Awe Olufemi (Head, Salary) – N7,759,400.00
David Okon Williams (Chief Executive Officer Accounts) – N2,340,847.00
The eight suspects may face trial.
“From the investigation carried out so far, a case of conspiracy, abuse of office and diversion of public funds can be established against the suspects,” the source said, adding:
“We are going to arraign all the suspects very soon after the completion of our investigation.”
Another source said the EFCC acted on an anonymous petition which revealed the rot in the agency. The petitioners alleged conspiracy, abuse of office and diversion of public funds.
Said the source: “The petitioner alleged that the Director-General of the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency (NIHSA), Mr. Moses Oluwatoyin Beckley conspired with the Deputy Director, Account Mrs. Hauwa Ibrahim and some other staff of the Account Department and diverted large amount of money meant for the agency’s 2016 budget for their personal use.
“Upon receipt of the petition, the Director of Administration and Finance of the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency was invited and interviewed. The Chairman of the staff union of the agency was also invited and interviewed.
“Staff of the account department were interviewed and their various statements recorded under word of caution.
“Voluntary statements of some staff of the agencies involved for 2015 and 2016 were obtained from various banks and analysed.
“Information on various companies linked to the suspects were also obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“A bureau de change owner, Full Range Bureau de Change whose account the sum of N130m was paid into was interrogated.”
The Director General of the agency, Mr. Moses Oluwatoyin Beckley, was interrogated and released on bail.