The Nigeria corruption watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday said it had launched a thorough investigation into alleged diversion of over N551 billion by a former Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji and his son, Chinedu, while serving as the governor of the state.
The anti-graft agency said it commenced the investigation in response to a petition by a group, Fight Corruption: Save Nigeria Group, alleging that the former governor diverted various sums of money that accrued to the state government.
In a petition made available to the media by the EFCC, the funds include N383 billion revenue from federal accounts, N55 billion excess crude revenue, N2.3 billion Sure P funds and N1.8 billion ecological funds.
Other monies allegedly diverted are N10.5 billion loan from First Bank Plc through the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs, N4 billion loan from Diamond Bank, N12 billion Paris Club refund, N2 billion agricultural loan for farmers and N55 billion ASOPADEC funds.
The petition alleged that the Orji-led administration received the funds, though there were no commensurate projects on ground to match the received funds.
In response to THISDAY inquiry yesterday, spokesman of the EFCC, Mr. Tony Orilade confirmed receiving the petition. He said that the anti-graft agency had started investigating the former governor, saying the investigation “is ongoing.” Under Nigerian law, an accused person remains innocent until he has been found guilty.
The petition alleged that Theodore Orji, who was a Chief of Staff to his convicted predecessor, Dr. Orji Kalu, was the authorising officer drawing N500 million monthly purported to be security vote, which were allegedly diverted.
The petition alleged that when he became the governor in 2007, Theodore Orji continued “to withdraw the N500 million cash monthly from June 2007 to May 2015. “The N500 million is not part of the security funds expended on the Nigerian Police, The Nigerian Army, DSS, Navy anti-Kidnapping Squad, anti- robbery Squad, purchase of security equipment and vehicles for the security agencies,” the petition said.
The anti-graft agency later extended the investigation to his family members to ascertain the link and culpability of the ex-governor’s first son, Chinendum Orji Eyinanya, who is currently the Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly.
EFCC also said it had discovered about 100 accounts in different banks, with over 80 percent of the accounts still very active. The accounts, which were both corporate and individual, received so much deposit in cash without evidence of job or services rendered.
The EFCC investigation revealed that Fotoworld Industry Limited, with GTB account number 2022025805 was traced to Chinedum.
“The company received deposit of $20, 849, 044.21. The same company with another account number 2022025764 in First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) received a cumulative deposit of N362, 573, 056.50.
“Fotoworld has several other accounts with FBN. The accounts and deposits are: 2026144229, $84, 000 cash deposit between 2014 and 2015; between 2012 and 2015, account number 2022025764 housed N342, 573, 056.50; Account number 2022025939 between November 2012 and July 2015 received a deposit of 1, 689, 320.89 Pounds Sterling.”
The EFCC probe showed that the GTB account 0039060117 of the same company housed N88, 300, 000 billion between February 2009 and July 2014.
Fotoworld Industry Limited, with GTB account number 2022025805, also traced to Chinedum, received deposit of $20, 849, 044.21.
The same company with account number 2022025764 in First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) received a cumulative deposit of N362, 573, 056.50.
The same company, Fotoworld, has several other accounts with FBN. The accounts and deposits are: 2026144229 with $84, 000 cash deposit between 2014 and 2015; between 2012 and 2015, account number 2022025764 with the same bank housed N342, 573, 056.50; Account number 2022025939 with the same bank, between November 2012 and July 2015 received a deposit of 1, 689, 320.89 Pounds Sterling.
The investigation also showed that Exact Construction Limited, traced to Chinedum, is believed to have no record of any construction work in the country; also received humongous deposits in Keystone Bank where account was opened.
Between October 2008 and February 2015, the company account number 005374800 had deposits of N1, 188, 924, 190.41. Another deposit of N636, 372, 642.85 into Exact Construction Limited, Keystone Bank account number 1001538949.
The GTB account 0039060117 of the same company housed N88, 300, 000 between February 2009 and July 2014. The FBN account number 2008232908 also received lodgement of N599, 771, 424.25 between January 2011 and June 2016; account number 200823298 had N731, 135, 357.04 between 2007 and 2016.
“Fotofast Industry Limited is another company registered by the first family to siphoned the resources of the state. Several accounts were opened in FBN by the company.
“The sum of N20, 861, 165.95 entered into the FBN account number 2014629152 between 2011 and 2017. Between 2011 and 2016, another N223, 929, 515.37 was lodged in Fotofast’s account number 2015559102 domiciled in FBN”, findings revealed.