The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested two Benue State officials over their involvement in the over-the-counter withdrawal of N23 billion in cash, Daily Trust on Sunday gathered.
The two officials are Mr Gbaigyo Emmanuel director finance and administration, and Mr Andoor Festus cashier in the Benue State Bureau for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs.
The suspicious withdrawals, according to EFCC documents reviewed by Daily Trust on Sunday, were made in cash over-the-counter from eight bank accounts operated by four agencies of the Benue State government.
A senior official of the EFCC told Daily Trust on Sunday that the withdrawals were made in such a manner “to evade the monitoring mechanism of law enforcement authorities.”
A total of N19.4billion was withdrawn between June 30, 2015 and March 2018 from three accounts belonging to the Benue State Bureau of Internal Service and Special Service. The withdrawal breakdown is thus: N11,827,455,250 (UBA, 1007540119), N5,886,237,150 (First Bank, 2023788057); and N1,640,527,540 (Zenith Bank, 1010653167).
The withdrawal was done by a cashier in bits of N10 million. “In a day, the same man withdrew N500million in a N10million per transaction model,” the senior EFCC official said. Another N1, 916, 635, 206.00 was withdrawn from three accounts of the Benue State Government House domiciled at UBA (1017348051), Zenith Bank (1010658643), and GTB (0027952907).
Also, N1,367,043,651.52 was withdrawn in cash from the Fidelity Bank account (5030058730) of the Joint State and Local Account of Benue State.
Another N792,039,884.00 was withdrawn in the same manner from the account of Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs domiciled at Sterling Bank (0017836093).
The EFCC chief said when they commenced investigation of the suspicious withdrawals of the public funds, the state government “hurriedly sacked an assistant director of finance, Mr Agbo Omada, as part of its cover-up strategy.”
“When we interrogated the cashier and the director of finance about the withdrawals, they said they were acting based on the directives of the permanent secretary, ministry of finance,” the official said.
He explained that when the agency “invited the permanent secretary, he told us that he was carrying out the directives of the governor of Benue State.”
The anti-graft chief said most of the money were diverted under funny circumstances, and without any official documents to back them.
The EFCC chief said, “what is even more surprising is the fact that these suspicious cash withdrawals are still ongoing even when the investigation is still in place.”