Posted by News Express | 20 November 2017 | 1,617 times
The controversy surrounding the payment of the five percent commission to the whistle-blowers who gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) leads towards the recovery of huge fund at the Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos rages as the "original whistleblowers" have written the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun to stop the proposed payment to allow reasons prevail on the petition earlier written to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on their alleged short-change.
A total of $43.4 million, N23.3 million and 27,800 Euros was recovered at the location by the EFCC.
In a letter dated November 15, 2017 and received by the Office of the Finance Minister same day, the petitioners, through their lawyers, Hammart and Co (Tafida Chambers), drew the attention of the Minister to an earlier petition written to the AGF since last September for which no action had been taken and that the silence of these top government officials ran counter to the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s stance on corruption in all its ramifications.
In the letter sighted by PRNigeria in Abuja, the whistle-blowers requested the Minister to put on hold the earlier plan to pay the wrong whistle-blowers until their complaints had been thoroughly investigated and justice done.
“It is therefore the brief of our clients that we request you to hold on payment of the whistleblowers’ fee/entitlement until our clients’ complaints is sorted out. That considering the vital role our client played in exposing the whereabouts of the recovered money, our client cannot be sidelined or denied his entitlement, as doing so will amount to injustice to our client.”
PRNigeria had last week broken the news of the alleged shortchange by the EFCC and others via a petition written to the AGF.
In a petition dated August 24, 2017 and addressed to the AGF, which was received on September 8, 2017, solicitors to the claimants, No Limit Legal Partners told the AGF that his clients, by the workings of the EFCC have shortchanged the whistleblowers by bringing others who were not the arrowhead of the whistle blowing.
The solicitors noted that: “Our clients informed us sometime in December 2016 that three of them voluntarily walked into the office of EFCC at 15A Awolowo Road Ikoyi, Lagos and gave vital information that led to the recovery of over N13 billion at the Ikoyi Towers, Lagos.”
The counsel further told the AGF that “upon subsequent visits to give a detailed information as required by the commission to raid the tower, they were told that if the operation was successful, five percent of the amount recovered would be their take-home within 72 hours of recovery. They were also cautioned that if the information happened to be false, then they will definitely be in trouble which the three mentioned above accepted because they were sure of their facts.”
The petition continues: “That when the operation was carried out, it was successful but since then they have not received any commendation by the commission, let alone give any reward as stated even though the EFCC have their names and phone numbers.”
The petitioners said that rather than to fulfill their own part of the arrangement, some staff of the EFCC gave them further information that they were not the only people who offered information on the Ikoyi Towers as others were also involved without mentioning them.
It was further learnt that upon various meetings by the three persons, the complainants agreed to go back and meet the Head of EFCC operations, Alhaji Samaila Muhammed and were told on their visit that the numbers of claimants had increased to nine.
When contacted on the matter, the Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance on Media and Communications, Mr. Yinka Akintunde said that such issues should be referred to EFCC. He added that the Ministry comes in when the rightful persons had been duly recognised by the relevant authorities for payment after due process.
When PRNigeria contacted the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr Wilsom Uwujaren to explain the role of the commission on the matter, he said several persons had in the past besieged the commission to claim being part of the Ikoyi Towers whistleblowers. He confirmed that that the commission has records of the original whistleblowers, stressing that all would be done to make sure that the right persons are paid accordingly. (PRNigeria)
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