The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, has been arrested alongside some officials, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in connection the $115 (N23.3bn) million they allegedly received from Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum Resources.
Also arrested by the anti-graft agency is Martins Izuogbe, the bank’s Head of Operations, for his role in the alleged scam, which the EFCC described as unprecedented.
According to Punch, a reliable source in the EFCC who spoke to their correspondent revealed that ahead of the 2015 presidential election, Diezani invited Okonkwo to help her handle some cash, which would be disbursed to electoral officials and groups.
The scam was however unearthed when the anti-graft agency launched an investigation into how officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom states received N675.1m. The detective who made the disclosure was quoted to have said:
“The MD of Fidelity Bank has been arrested and is currently in our custody. During investigations into the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners, we got a major breakthrough as funds disbursed were traced to Fidelity Bank.
“We invited the MD, who then confessed to us that during the build-up to the presidential election, Diezani invited him to a meeting in Abuja. Diezani told him that some companies would deposit some funds in his bank and that she would give him further instructions on how the funds would be disbursed.
“The first company, Auctus Integrated, deposited $17,884,000 into the bank. The second company, Northern Belt Gas Company, deposited $60m while another company, Midwestern Oil and Gas, deposited $9.5m. A fourth company, Leno Laitan Adesanya, deposited $1.85m while the MD himself received $26m in cash”.
The source, who further claimed that Diezani’s son, Ugonna Madueke, was later used as a middleman between the former minister and the MD of Fidelity bank, said it was Ugonna who sent the names of the beneficiaries of the funds, which included INEC officials and many interest groups as well as election monitors, who were supposed to compromise the electoral process. He said:
“The MD of Fidelity Bank said it was Diezani’s son that sent him a list of beneficiaries which included several INEC officials and election monitors across the 36 states. Diezani specifically instructed that the funds be disbursed at least a day or two before the elections. The total amount of money was $115m and Diezani told the bank to convert the funds into naira, which was about N23.3bn at the time.
“However, the suspects told us that the volume of money was too big and they had problems converting the funds. So, Diezani told the bank MD to use the bank’s funds and hold on to the dollars as collateral and that after elections, the bank could use the dollars to replace the bank funds.”
The EFCC source wondered why Okonkwo would allow himself to be used in such a manner considering the fact that Diezani did not operate any account with the bank. “He may be charged with conspiracy once we are done with investigations”, he said.