The controversies surrounding the payment of the 5% commission to the whistle-blowers who gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) leads towards the recovery of $43.4 million, N23.3 million and 27,800 Euros at the Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos is still raging 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.
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 Finance Minister to an earlier petition written to the AGF since September,2017 for which no action was taken and that the silence of these top government officials run counter to the Buhari administration’s stance on corruption in all its ramifications.
In the letter sighted by PRNigeria in Abuja, the whistle-blowers requested the Finance Minister to put on hold the earlier plan to pay the wrong whistle-blowers until their complaints have been thoroughly investigated and justice done.
“It 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, 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 Attorney General of the Federation.
In a petition dated August 24th, 2017 addressed to the AGF and received on September 8th, 2017, solicitors to the claimants, No Limit Legal Partners, on behalf of Abdulmumin Musa, Mr Stephen Sunday and Mr Bala Usman told the AGF that his clients by the workings of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(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 (3) of them voluntarily walked into the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(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 Legal Practitioners further told the AGF that “upon subsequent visit to give a detailed information as required by the commission to raid the tower, they were told if the operation was successful, 5% of the amount recovered will 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 rather than to do the needful, some of the EFCC staff gave them further information that they were not the only people who gave them information on the Ikoyi Tower as others were also involved without mentioning them.
It further learnt that upon various meetings by the three persons, they agreed to go back and meet the Head of EFCC operations, Alhaji Samaila Muhammed and were told on their visit that the numbers have increased to nine(9) who made the report urging them to bring the remaining persons.
When contacted on the matter, the Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance on Media and Communications, Mr. Yinka Akintunde said that such issues be referred to EFCC and not the responsibility of the Ministry. He added that the ministry comes in when the rightful persons were 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 have in the past besieged the commission to say that they were part of whistleblowing. He confirmed that that the commission has records of the original whistleblowers of the Ikoyi Towers stressing that all will be done to make sure that the right persons are paid accordingly.
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