By Onyedi Ojiabor, and Sanni Onogu, Abuja

 


Of the N32billion Police Pension Fund cash, N26 billion has been traced to five banks.

Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina

The Senate Committee probing the funds’ management also heard yesterday that the Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, spends over N9 million monthly on security.

As the Senator Aloysius Etok-led investigative panel on Management of Pension Funds resumed sitting, seven bank chief executives appeared before the committee to clarify the allegation that some banks were conduit pipes to launder pension cash.

Director, Police Pension Office, Mr. Toyin Ishola, who disclosed the whereabouts of the controversial police pension funds, gave the breakdown of the amount traced to the five banks.

He listed Fidelity Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), ECO Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) and First Bank as the banks the funds were domiciled.

Ishola said that Fidelity Bank, UBA and Ecobank each holds N8billion. GTB has N2billion and First Bank N10 billion.

He said the Police Pension Office was working hard to locate N6 billion balance.

Only the Executive Director of Ecobank, Mr. Segun Jafia, who represented his bank, disputed the N3billion said to have been deposited in his bank.

Though Jafia agreed that Ecobank is one of the bankers of the police pensioners, he said the bank is only a paying bank. He admitted that N4 billion was paid into the police pension for payment of pensioners.

Jafia noted that the money had gone into paying police pensioners, leaving a balance of N200 million.

The Ecobank ED said the bank is one of the bankers of the Head of Service pension office.

Diamond Bank Acting Managing Director Mr. Oladele Akinyemi said it was not possible to give one account number to more than one person.

He said his bank does not have any codified account or any account with the name “Chairman”.

The committee mandated the bank to furnish it with details of the accounts of Police Pension, Head of Service, Custom, Immigration and Prisons Pension Office (CIPPO).

GTB Managing Director Mr. Segun Agbaje told the committee that the police pension account was opened on April 6, 2011, with a deposit of N3billion and closed on June 30, 2011.

He told the panelists that the Accountant General’s letter of authorisation to open the account was received on March 2, 2011.

Agbaje said N3billion was deposit placement done in a person’s name and withdrawal usually done by the same person.

He said the money came in form of Electronic Fund Transfer.

The GTB boss said N2b was later transferred to Ecobank on instruction.

Agbaje said the interest accrued to the account was N924,000.

He said the bank was directed on June 30, 2011 to close the account and transfer the money to a new account. The balance in the account is N1.1 billion.

Executive Director of First Bank, Kehinde Lawanson, said the bank was asked to reconcile 14 accounts.

Lawanson said FirstBank found out that five accounts were duplicated.

He added that essentially “we are dealing with nine accounts”.

On whether the bank assigned one account number to four individuals, Lawanson noted that “it is extremely improbable to give one account number to more than one person”.

On some deposits which the committee described as “unusual lodgments” totalling about N44.9 million, Lawanson said if it discovered any form of unusual lodgment of funds, the bank has a procedure to report to the appropriate authorities as specified in the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

He said his bank reported unusual lodgments whenever applicable.

He explained that in the case of Electronic Fund Transfer, once the account number and code are correct, it becomes automatic credit.

Fidelity Bank Executive Director I. K. Mbagwu told the committee that the bank received a request from the Police Reform Task Team to open an account on August 9, 2011 and N6 billion was lodged.

Mbagwu who said the money is still with the bank.

The banker described the account as a “memorandum account”, saying it existed as a “memorandum account” until the authorisation to open the account came from the Accountant General’s office.

He said the account became active only when the Accountant General’s office authorised its opening on August 17, 2011.

Mbagwu said N2billion was paid into the account on August 17, leaving a balance of N8 billion.

On the claim by the Pension Reform Task Team that it recovered N31 billion, he noted that N31 billion could not have been recovered since the money was in the Police Pension account.

Former Head of Service Prof. Afolabi Oladapo also said it was a false claim for the Pension Task Team to have said that it recovered six million pounds.

He said: “It was a false claim to say that six million pounds was recovered. Nothing was recovered because nothing was lost in the first place.”

He said the six million pounds was an investment account domiciled in the United Kingdom.

On the security of the Pension Reform Task Team leader, Maina, Ishola said they were told that Maina made himself inaccessible to pensioners by the surrounding himself with over 42 security agents drawn from the riot police, State Security Service (SSS), the Customs and Prisons Service.

Ishola said they were also told that Maina spends over N9 million monthly on security.

 

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