Details from a leaked audio have exposed how the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami used his power to compromise high profile corruption cases in the country.
In one of the multiple audio recordings which DAILY NIGERIAN said it verified from an insider in the anti graft agency, said Mohammed Idris who is a staffer of EFCC was heard discussing with one Abdulbari Yusuf, a younger brother to a retired rear admiral and former director of Navy Accounts, Tahir Yusuf, who was facing charges of corruption.
Mr Idris, who is a lawyer, was heard giving Mr Yusuf’s brother clues on how to defeat the anti-graft commission at the Court of Appeal as well as ways to evacuate money from a particular account.
He said, “If he has money in any account linked with his BVN [Bank Verification Number], he should quickly evacuate them. And if he makes transfers, EFCC will still trace it. He should only withdraw and and then deposit into another account,” he said.
Mr Yusuf according to DAILY NIGERIAN had also specifically mentioned Mr Malami as the one in charge of the EFCC, and also the minister had ordered the unfreezing of big accounts being probed by the commission.
He continued, “Malami now controls the EFCC. The commission is in his hands. Once Malami speaks, the account will be unfrozen. They are unfreezing suspects’ accounts, including the big cases,” the EFCC operative said.
The operative was speaking in reference to the frozen account of the retired naval officer’s company, Aston, frozen by the EFCC with N114 million at the formative stage of the investigations.
He also revealed how the attorney-general introduced the suspect with a lawyer to handle the case. “Yes, Malami introduced you to Ameh, so it will not be possible to debrief him,” the EFCC official said.
In another audio according to DAILY NIGERIAN, the operative was also heard lambasting his colleagues for adequately investigating suspects, saying the colleagues are “devilish and terrible sets of human beings”.
It was also gathered that the ex-naval officer had made failed attempts to unfreeze the account when Ibrahim Magu was still the EFCC boss.
But findings by DAILY NIGERIAN show that the account was recently unfrozen to enable them quickly move out the money as advised by the EFCC operative.
Sources said owing to the retired military officer’s connection with the “top politicians”, his hotels in Kaduna and Zaria were recently unsealed by the EFCC.
DAILY NIGERIAN findings also reveal Mr Yusuf is the owner of Grand Pinnacle Luxury Suites in Maiduguri.
On the board of Grand Pinnacle Luxury Hotels Limited is Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari, the chairman Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes.
The EFCC, ICPC and NFIU are under the oversight coverage of Mr Kwari’s committee.
Meanwhile, in 2020, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the permanent forfeiture of about N500 million the retired naval officer stole while serving as a military officer.
The EFCC had told the court that three out of the seven accounts were operated under the name of a company, Bitmas Enterprise, in Zenith Bank while two were held in Mr Yusuf’s name in the defunct Skye Bank, now Polaris Bank.
In 2018, after the court granted an order for interim forfeiture of the money and ordered the anti-corruption agency to publish the order in a national daily for any interested party to claim the money, Mr Yusuf filed a counter-affidavit, claiming ownership of the money with claims that it was sourced through legitimate avenues.
However, the court disregarded Mr Yusuf’s claims, whose former job description in the Naval administration involved verifying and authenticating documents before payments while keeping custody of accounts balance.
Investigations by EFCC revealed that the ex-naval officer was linked to seven accounts (corporate and personal) with the following details: In Zenith Bank accounts 1011701670 (N32,268,758.50); 9000617386 (N320,132,530.57); 1011904172 (N2,414,034.39); 5360132431 ($34,875.00); 5060017083 (£15,050.00) – all held in the name of Bitmas Enterprises.
Two other accounts – 2120012772 ($57,080.38) and 1060100885 (N2,390,987.69) – were held in Skye Bank in Mr Yusuf’s name.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that documents also revealed that the embattled naval officer had made a proposal for a plea bargain to the EFCC, allegedly volunteered to forfeit N200 million, which the commission had rejected.