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You lied over N411m fraud allegation, jumping bail, Ex-Kwara Finance Commissioner counters EFCC

A former Kwara State Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Ademola Banu, has said that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lied over its claims that he jumped bail and that he was involved in a N411million fraud.

He also faulted EFCC for declaring him wanted, saying the declaration was unwarranted, unlawful and devoid of due process.

He also said that on 26th January, 2021, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) had written that he has been cleared by the EFCC while referencing the complainant/respondent’s letter tagged “ref: CR:3000/EFCC/ILR/BF/Vol 1/055 dated 13th January, 2021.

The ex-Commissioner of Finance further said he was not guilty of the N411million fraud allegation preferred against him by EFCC.

He also said that he had no authority over the funds of Kwara State Government as a Commissioner of Finance and that he was subject to the directive/approvals of the first defendant, who is the immediate past Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed.

These were contained in his affidavit before the court filled on Friday, a copy which was obtained on Tuesday. The affidavit was sworn on his behalf by Aisha Mahmud in the suit with charge no: FHC/Il/18C/2024 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria (complainant/respondent/) and Abdulfatah Ahmed and Ademola Banu (second defendant).

He maintained that he did not abscond in the United Kingdom as EFCC told the court. He said he only traveled to United States of America on the 21st of December 2023 to see his family and follow up on the medical procedure and that he returned to Nigeria on the 6th of February 2024. He added since that time, all his telephone lines were opened and he did not receive any invitation from the EFCC.

He also asserted that the issue of jumping bail did not arise because there was no new investigation and invitation by the EFCC after he was declared an acquitted defendant on 18th November, 2020, by the court in the previous suit with case No. FHC/IL/24C/2019.

The ex-Commissioner also said the previous charges preferred against him, Travel Messenger, and one Mr. Adeyemi in Suit Number FH/IL/24C/2019, which were withdrawn by EFCC leading to his acquittal by the court are similar to the current/extant charges contained in the case No: FHC/IL/18/2024 against Ahmed and himself.

According to him, he was never admitted to any administrative bail by EFCC since his discharge in Charge No: FHC/IL/24C/2019 and that there is no record with the complainant that anyone ever stood as surety for him before EFCC between the period of 18 November 2020 till date.

In the counter-affidavit, the EFCC claimed that the previous charges in the suit with case Number FHC/IL/24C/2019 were withdrawn as a result of their inability to join Ahmed as a co-defendant because he had then enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

Banu in the fresh affidavit filed to respond to the lines of arguments presented by the EFCC, submitted that the excuses given by EFCC for withdrawing the previous charges were a misrepresentation of facts because Ahmed had left office and no longer enjoyed immunity from prosecution as at the time the first charges in case No. FHC/IL/24C/2019 were filed on the 19th of October, 2019.

He said Ahmed left office on the 29th of May 2019.

After the review, the immediate past management team of the EFCC had according to investigations discovered that the previous charges contained in case Number FHC/IL/24C/3019 were baseless without any merit and had consequently granted the request made through the petition and directed that the charges in the suit with case Number FHC/IL/24C/ 2019 be withdrawn from court; and that the lien on the bank account of Travel Messenger Ltd alleged to have warehoused the alleged laundered funds should be lifted and that the beneficiary should be allowed to utilize the fund.

Banu, filed an application/motion asking the court to vacate the bench warrant for his arrest arguing that the facts presented to the court by the EFCC were untrue and misleading.

The date for the hearing of the motion to vacate the bench warrant has not been fixed while the substantive case was adjourned until 29th and 30th of April 2024.

The Ilorin Zonal Command of the EFCC, had arraigned the immediate past Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, on a 12-count charge bordering on alleged mismanagement of public funds of N10billion, before Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin.

The anti-graft agency joined Banu and alleged that while being the Commissioner of Finance of the state, between January and December 2018 in Ilorin, he had conspired with Ahmed to convert N411,000,000.00 property of Kwara State Government meant for the provision of security in the State.

EFCC’s lead counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, had informed the court that Banu jumped an administrative bail granted him by the EFCC and efforts to arrest him had proved abortive. He had also submitted that intelligence report had revealed that the ex-Commissioner absconded to the United Kingdom after getting information that Ahmed had been invited and detained.

He urged the court to rely on Section 83 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) to issue a summons against his surety, Salami Bashiru Ola and/or warrant of arrest against the second defendant (Banu).

Justice Anyadike in a ruling issued a bench warrant against Banu.

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