Chief Kenny Martins has many questions to answer on how he runs the Police Equipment Foundation
Those who hate him would admit that Chief Kenny Martins, National Coordinator, Police Equipment Foundation, has an ebullient personality. Apart from making people underestimate him at their own peril, this nature enables him to mix well and make things happen in the corridors of power. When he smiles, he would be all teeth and cherubic dimples. The man has charm. He radiates electricity. He can short-circuit processes. Mid last year, it was in this gregarious spirit that he led a team of the foundation to TheNEWS corporate headquarters in Lagos. As he fielded questions from the magazine’s editors, members of his entourage listened with rapt attention, nodded like aged lizards at intervals and took turns to explain certain issues to complement their leader’s position.
Then the spirit of Jeremiah suddenly possessed Babafemi Ojudu, TheNEWS Managing Editor. He fired a clairvoyant question that unnerved Martins. Every year, Ojudu began, the President commits a lot of money to the police. Why must it be private individuals who must now mobilise funds for the Force? He painted a scenario: “Suppose any of you commits a crime, what happens? Can the same police arrest him?”
Martins, a smooth talker, however, assured his hosts that the organisation was fired not by any other motive but patriotism. He added that the body is made up of credible Nigerians who would not want their names dragged in the mud. Above all, their books would be available for scrutiny. Members of Martins’ delegation nodded in agreement. They included Reverend Sally Heylinger, Johny Ucheaga, Ibrahim Dumuje, Hope Davies, Dr. Prince Sebastine, Dr. Godson Iwulu and Dr. Ausbeth Ajagu. Others were Basil Uthman, Alhaja Faosat Olatoyosi and Adebayo Adeoye, an Assistant Inspector-General of Police.
The session ended. The hosts and the guests pumped hands and exchange of after-interview pleasantries. One after the other, the foundation’s team filed out of TheNEWS’ conference room and made for the exit. As they descended the stairs, their hosts went back to their offices.
Believing they were out of earshot, Martins elbowed one of his men in the ribs and complained about Ojudu’s provocative question that bordered on accountability: “That yeye man is a wizard. He wanted to spoil show…” Majority of the members on his entourage received their leader’s repartee with bored courtesy and plastic grins.
Given the current scandal rocking the foundation, Kenny Martins seems to have confirmed TheNEWS magazine’s worst fears. This is because, like a drowning man holding on to reeds he can grab, Chief Martins is fighting the battle of his life over alleged mismanagement of funds under him. He has also been accused of elbowing aside those who initiated the idea, unilaterally changing the concept from a presidential committee to a non-governmental organisation, and dropping former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s name to coerce all 774 local government councils in the country into donating money.
Martins is being pilloried further on the manner he acquired (through waiver) vehicles that are useless to the police, forgery, dictatorship and lack of transparency in the handling of funds. Worst of all, the antecedents of Martins and Dumuje are, according to their critics, not reassuring.
It all started on 15 June 2004 when Dumuje, a businessman of 2 Bisi Oladepo Street, Aviation Estate, Mafoluku, Lagos State; Evangelist Joseph Agharite of Block 6, Federal Housing Authority, Maitama, Abuja and Dr. Godson Ewulum, a company director and businessman, signed a written agreement on the setting up of Police Equipment Fund. They resolved to work under the umbrella of Nigerian States and Local Government Trade and Tourism Fair, NIGERSTALG, to solicit for donations, organise launches and all other manner of fund raising activities. The group agreed to seek the approval of the presidency and police authorities for their activities.
Apart from paying all monies raised into bank accounts that might be opened for the purpose by appropriate authorities, the group agreed that the parties shall be appointed to various strategic positions, and all the facilities and amenities made available or acquired for the efficient execution of the project shall be equitably distributed amongst them.
To enable the parties cover costs and expenses, they agreed that 10 per cent of the funds raised or other sums to be approved “shall be set aside and shared equally amongst the parties irrespective of the titles and official positions held” by them. Above all, they agreed to be just and faithful to one another in all transactions relating to the project and at all times “give to the others a true account of all such dealings”.
The men prepared a proposal, sometime in 2005, and sent it to the then Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, and Sunday Ehindero, former Inspector-General of Police. But they hit a brick wall. At this point, the three friends approached Kenny Martins, an in-law to former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He married Martins’ twin sister. Incidentally, before the matter could be considered by Mr. President, Agharite died in the Bellview plane crash of October 2005. To complete the last leg of the tripod, they invited Martins on board. With the presence of Martins, their proposal sailed through Obasanjo’s desk like a greased pig in a slaughter house.
In their proposal for the establishment of the Presidential Committee to administer its N100 billion police equipment fund, NIGERSTALG said that it was moved by the rate at which policemen were being killed everyday in operational units. These are banks, bullion vans, petroleum oil installations, state government houses, governors’ entourages, airports, seaports, land and sea patrol teams, security details of local government chairmen, ministers and other top government officials, embassies and high commissions, presidential entourage and others.
Nigerian policemen, the men said, are on duty 24 hours and their efforts have to be complemented by the provision of “body armour and police helicopters for air patrol and quick response/intervention to distress calls, and to boost the safety and confidence of policemen”. The organisation said it was aware of the limited finance at the disposal of the Nigeria Police and it should be the responsibility of everyone to assist it.
The fund, according to the organisation, would be for training for community policing, body armour, helicopters, vehicles and communication equipment, armaments and other equipment, and renovation of barracks.
It would also be private sector-driven, with key responsibilities given to the Minister of Police Affairs and NIGERSTALG for proper funds coordination. The private sector, providers of the funds, would occupy the majority of the seats on the committee to, as contained in the proposal, “ensure that the funds are judiciously used.” Apart from prominent membership given to the Ministry of Finance, the Price Implementation Unit in the Presidency would be part of the process to ensure transparency.
According to the proposal, the Presidential Committee would be chaired by the Minister of Police Affairs, Bozimo. Dumuje of NIGERSTALG would be the deputy.
The organisers prayed for the establishment of the modalities and parameters for fund raising, the process for identifying areas for intervention, due process unit, area offices in all 36 states and 774 local government areas, and head office in the Federal Capital Territory.
These prayers were answered when the Presidential Committee on Police Equipment Fund was inaugurated by Bozimo on Tuesday 14 March 2006 in Abuja. Two days later, when he addressed the press at the Lagos Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Bozimo told journalists that the Obasanjo administration inherited a Police Force bereft of the necessary wherewithal to perform its statutory functions of maintaining law and order and protecting life and property. He added that the government embarked on a systematic programme of equipment acquisition and welfare improvement for the police, because of the recognition that the country’s ability to attract needed foreign investment depends not only on improved social infrastructure, but also, even more crucially, on the ability to maintain internal peace and security.
Bozimo went down memory lane, giving the Obasanjo administration kudos for committing enormous resources to the purchase of modern equipment and logistics, such as patrol vehicles, helicopters, motorised speed boats, and customised motorcycles. Not only that, the administration, Bozimo explained, implemented various welfare programmes to improve the morale of the men and women of the police. Also, decrepit barracks were rehabilitated, new ones built and a post-service housing scheme was in the pipeline.
Bozimo argued that given the enormity of the needs, the multitude of other contending claims on national resources and the former President’s conviction on the need for public and private sector participation, other stakeholders were encouraged to play an active role in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Nigeria Police. The Minister said at the World Press Conference, that in the spirit of arguments that led to the creation of agencies such as the Education Trust Fund, a bill was submitted to the National Assembly in 2002 for the establishment of the Police Trust Fund. Bozimo said: “While that bill is going through the required administrative process in the National Assembly, Mr. President has given approval in the interim for the setting up of a Presidential Committee on Police Equipment Fund.”
The committee, as the Minister put it, is composed of respected individuals renowned for their impeccable integrity. It would be responsible for the management of the funds that will be solicited from public-spirited individuals and organisations for the purpose of proactive intervention in the provision of equipment and service for the police. Here lies the rub. In spite of the elaborate terms of reference and organogram, Chief Martins is being accused of taking over the leadership of the committee and appropriating its functions without being answerable to anyone, but his pocket.
Dr. Godson Ewulum, a foundation member, Head of Operations and South-East coordinator of the fund, is the arrowhead of opposition against him. He argued that although he recruited Martins to join the project, he (Martins), in connivance with the Presidency, “hijacked the operation and usurped the role of National Coordinator.”
Festus Keyamo, Ewulum’s lawyer, threw more light on the alleged hijack. He told Sunday Tribune that at the begining of the project, three friends, Agharite, Dumuje and Ewulum came together and signed an agreement in 2004 to pursue what was to be known as Police Equipment Fund Project. They said they wanted to sell the idea to government for its approval.
“While they were doing all of these and running up and down, Tafa Balogun (the former IGP) refused to listen to them. Chief Bozimo also refused to listen to them. To be quite honest, they approached Martins. They wanted him, being an in-law to the President, to help sell the idea to the President…” Martins was, as Keyamo explained, “a facilitator to the three friends. They were about to hear from the President when Agharite died in the Bellview crash of October 2005… Only two of them, Dumuje and Ewulum, were remaining. They continued to pursue the project until the President said O.K.”
The friends, according to the lawyer, needed a company, NIGERSTALG, to push their case. That was the reason that government gave the company a place on the committee. Indeed it “is the official canvasser for funds,” Keyamo said.
How did Martins hijack the whole process? One, after Agharite’s death, Keyamo alleged, Martins forced himself, via a resolution, in which there is an alleged case of forgery, into becoming a director of the company. Unfortunately for them, Keyamo charged, they made a grievous mistake. That “resolution” was passed in March 2006 and Agharite died in the Bellview plane crash in October 2005. TheNEWS has a certified true copy of the document (form CO7) dated 31 March 2006 which only the ghost of Agharite could have signed five months after his death.
Members of the committee, most of whom have been sidelined by Martins, were Bozimo, Dumuje, Alhaji Garba Buwai, former Inspector-General of Police Ehindero, Chief Tony Eheaga, Secretary (representing NIGERSTALG); Mr. Ray Ekpu of the Police Service Commission; Ede Dafinone from Horwath Dafinone accounting firm; Mrs. Pitan, Profesor Julius Ihonvbere, representing the Presidency; Barrister Wemimo Ogunde from EFCC, and Olorogun Ortega Omerhor. Others were Tony Elumelu, United Bank for Africa Managing Director, representing the Banking sector; Paschal Dozie, Communication sector; Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, former Governor Victor Attah of Akwa Ibom State, Basil Omiyi from Shell, Dora Akunyili, Timi Alaibe, MD, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC; Cecilia Ibru, Aliko Dangote and others.
Written in long hand on the list are Kenny Martins, National Coordinator; Alhaji Mustapha Sambo, Mrs. U.M. Isichie, Tony Iredia, Tunde Fanimokun, Mike Adenuga, and Ayo Opadokun.
There were also sub-committees on the Equipment Fund. The private sector sub-committee, headed by Elumelu, was to mobilise funds for the committee from the private sector through fund raising activities and was charged to perform such other functions as may be assigned to it by the Minister of Police Affairs. Ewulum, Femi Otedola, Dangote, Okereke-Onyiuke and others were members.
The Police Community Relations sub-committee, charged with the responsibility of mobilising funds from various chapters of the Police Community Relations Committees in the country, was chaired by Deputy Inspector-General of Police Labaran. Emma Buachan, Senator David Mark (now Senate President), Mustapha Sambo, Lynn Olisa and Mrs. Pitan were members.
Appointed into the Administrative sub-committee were Bozimo, Chairman; Kenny Martins, D. B. Adeoye, an Assistant Inspector-General of Police; Cecilia Ibru, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim, Emeka Obasi and Tony Elumelu. The sub-committee would act as contact group for the coordination of the activities of the sub-committees and could perform other functions assigned to it by the Minister of Police Affairs.
There was also the International Mobilisation sub-committee, set up to mobilise funds from the international community and donor agencies. It was headed by Dr. Mrs. C. G. Okparaeke, with Dr. John Ademola, Chief Tunde Fanimokun, Tunji Abayomi and Opadokun as members. To raise funds from the public sector is the Public Sector Fund Raising sub-committee, chaired by Ibrahim Attah. E. N. Wike, Akunyili, Funso Kupolokun, Prof. Peter Okebukola, Yaro Gela, Feyi Oshinkalu were members.
All these people, according to Keyamo, came on board because of the influence of former President Obasanjo. Martins, Keyamo alleged, used his influence with the former Nigerian leader to “empower himself as national coordinator”. He charged further that Martins created the position himself because it hitherto did not exist. “He went to Bozimo to give him approval letter as National coordinator and signatory to the accounts of the committee.”
Having elbowed aside influential members of the committee, Martins allegedly consolidated his hold. To further cause confusion, he single-handed, changed the name of the body from Presidential Committee to Police Equipment Foundation. He sacked Horwath Dafinone and replaced the accounting firm with PriceWaterhouse. With the coast clear, Martins’ accusers said, he threw his offering basket open for donations from unsuspecting financial institutions. As Ewulum put it, Spring Bank donated N45 million; Intercontinental, N12.5 million; Equitorial Trust Bank, N5 million; Oceanic Bank, N20 million; Zenith Bank, N50 million; Wema Bank, N20 million; First Inland Bank, N45 million and First City Monument Bank, N5 million.
In a letter PCPEF/06/ADMIN/012 written on 15 September 2006 by Dumuje to the Managing Director, Intercontinental Bank, he advised it to partner with the foundation to get funds into its account in the bank. The funds were from the companies which the foundation “approached for donations towards equipping the Nigeria Police Force.” The first, in the N200 million category, were Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Oil Company, Oando Production and Development Company, and Snamprogetti Africa Nigeria Limited. Those in the N40 million group included Latter Rain Assembly, Celestial Church of Christ International Headquarters and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. Others were Dispensational Gospel Mission, Pentecostal Assembly, Jesus Family Ministries, Sword of the Spirit, and Samson Ayorinde.
In the category of N5 million were Abbey Building Society, EIB Building Society, FBN Mortgage, Federal Housing Authority Homes Limited, Global Trust Savings and Loans Limited, Leverage Home Savings, Harvard Trust Savings and Loans Limited, Infinity Trust Savings and Loans Limited, Kebbi State Home Savings and Loans and Lagoon Home Savings and Loans.
In a letter he wrote to the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, Keyamo drew its attention to the N7.78 billion that Martin’s foundation collected from the 774 local governments, huge contributions received from nearly all banks, oil companies and government parastatals, as well as loans of $150 million from foreign sources, “contrary to the undertaking of the Police Equipment Fund, and another $5.3 million from a US NGO.”
ICPC, Keyamo prayed, should investigate a loan of N50 million obtained from First Inland Bank, Ikoyi with “a falsified CO7 by Chief Kenny Martins and Dumuje, named in the consulting company NIGERSTALG profile as co-directors.”
Keyamo added that the moment the Federal Executive Council did not approve this project, it ought to have wound up and submitted a comprehensive account to government of all monies collected by it. Unfortunately, the lawyer charged: “because government has not paid attention to this huge conduit pipe of fraud, that is why Chief Martins has cleverly incorporated the said Police Equipment Foundation as a Company Limited by Guarantee and transferred all the assets raised in the name of the Presidential Committee to the foundation without the consent of government. This is nothing but fraud!” Ewulum, therefore, demanded that Martins and other operators of the fund render account of the project under the Presidential Committee on Police Equipment.
A substantial portion of the funds donated to the Police Equipment Fund was sourced from tax payers’ money through the 774 local governments in the country which jointly donated a whopping N7.78 billion. This, Ewulum argued, makes it all the more imperative to institute a probe of the way Martins hijacked leadership of Presidential Committee on Police Equipment Fund.
He added that sub-committees comprising eminent personalities and captains of industry such as Tony Elumelu, Dora Akinyuli, Cecilia Ibru, Timi Alaibe, Sir Eugene Ojukwu, Brigadier-General Ben Akpunomu (rtd), Air Vice-Marshal Anthony Okpere (rtd), Chief Forte Dike, Prince Donatus Okonkwo, Dr. Lyna Olisa, Aisha Tosan, Clem Okoye and others were used as a front to establish an air of integrity, whereas they were effectively by-passed in all decisions to date.
“It is in the same way that the firm of Dafinone and Co. appointed as auditors were cunningly shut out, as no financial information was ever volunteered to them. I await in eager anticipation the report of PriceWaterhouse which Martins claims is shortly due to be published,” Ewulum maintained. Finally, he revealed, he had instructed his solicitors, Festus Keyamo Chambers, to seek redress for the defamation and blackmail against him by Martins and Dumuje, for alleging that he, in concert with his lawyer sought financial settlement of N200m. This, Ewulum claimed, is defamation that will not stand as well as an attempt to divert attention from the main issue. “As a responsible citizen, I cannot fade quietly into the night and watch as the brazen looting of public funds continues in the guise of equipping the police. Here is a man who in the not too distant past had no visible means of income, a dependent on charity, who has become stupendously wealthy overnight, sponsoring a state-of the-art wedding for his son as can be seen in both the electronic and print media in recent times ...” Ewulum said angrily. He further challenged Martins “to make public his bank accounts before he assumed the post of the sole administrator of the fund public.” A big question mark was, on 18 May 2007, posed by the Exim Bank of the US over the claim by Martin’s foundation that it received a foreign loan. Kenny Martins once told The Glitterati that the US Ex-Im Bank, through Societe Generale Bank, had approved $97 million for his organisation to buy an armour-carrier plane.
“At the present time,” the bank said, it had “not authorised any financing commitment for this proposed transaction. Exim Bank has issued only a letter of interest to the US exporter applicant, indicating possible availability of Exim Bank support for the company’s potential exports of various kinds of US-made equipment for law enforcement (including bullet-proof vests and armoured vehicles).”
The bank also debunked Chief Martins’ claim that part of the loan would be needed for supporting police housing. The Exim Bank clarified that the US exporter had applied for funding but not for support for housing. Neither had it asked for fund for firearms.
“A letter of interest,” according to the bank, “is a non-binding statement of interest by Exim Bank that the proposed transaction, as described by the applicant, is of the type that Exim Bank would be willing to consider for financing.”
The bank maintained that it is not open to provide direct loan to the public sector in Nigeria but “could consider providing a loan guarantee to a commercial lender for a public sector transaction, as described by the applicant, if it is of the type that exim Bank would be willing to consider for financing.” The bank maintained that it could not provide direct loan to the public sector in Nigeria but could consider providing a loan guarantee to a commercial lender for a public sector transaction that is also supported by a Nigerian bank guarantee. “At present, Ex-Im Bank does not have an application for a final commitment for the proposed Nigeria Police Equipment Fund transaction,” it concluded.
Given all these questionable deals, Ewulum is asking that many issues be clarified. These are: who approved the award of contract for importing vehicles through motor dealers? What is the staff strength of the Fund and what are their responsibilities? Who authorised the car gifts to highly placed individuals and security agents such as the EFCC, Immigration, State Security Service, Customs etc? Why was Haworth Dafinone and Co, initially engaged to audit the account of PCPEF, jettisoned. Who authorised the deduction of N10 million from the allocation of each of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria?
Twenty-five bank accounts were opened to receive monies on behalf of the PCPEF. What has happened to those accounts? Who authorised the transformation of PCPEF to Police Foundation? How and when did the PCPEF wind up? Who are the signatories to the accounts of PCPEF? What has happened to those donations made by individuals, corporate bodies and international organisations? What of the levies paid through transport companies in Nigeria?
Ewulum further wants to know why the several distinguished Nigerians, captains of industry and public officers in the sub-committees were sidelined in the affairs of the PCPEF.
Having cried out and written to nearly all the appropriate authorities for necessary action and yet no meaningful response received, Ewulum said he further appealed to the Attorney-General of the Federation and by extension, the executive, judiciary and legislature, to probe the activities of the PCPEF. “By so doing, the true picture of the fund would be made clearer to Nigerians, whose monies are involved,” he said.
Another area where Martins is being pilloried is the purchase of vehicles, which the Police did not request for in the first place. Keyamo alleged in his petition that an estimated 2,500 vehicles, ranging from luxury BMW cars and jeeps to Mercedes Benz jeeps and Toyota Camry cars, were purchased at the cost of N13billion.
He said that one could not help wondering how the police would use these cars for crime fighting or police welfare, contrary to what the Police Equipment Project was designed to represent by the founding members.
Keyamo alleged further: “Investigations will reveal that the true cost of the purchase was between N3 million and N4 million. The vehicles were purchased for the elections and the intention are to resell them after the conclusion of the exercise, he claimed.”
When the vehicles were bought, the Police rejected them because they were not what they requested for originally. The Inspector-General of Police, Mike Okiro, explained to TheNEWS: “They did not consult the police before bringing in the cars. Like I said before, if we were consulted, we would have asked for (Toyota) Hilux. We made our point known to them and I am sure that was why they now came to us with list of things from which they wanted us to choose from; and we made our intentions, our needs known to them.”
He added that during the time of his predecessor, Ehindero, he understood that 800 vehicles were brought to the Police by the PEF, but “my predecessor refused to collect those vehicles. I now heard through the mass media that the EFCC, Navy, Army got vehicles from PEF. That was why when they (PEF) brought the 324 vehicles, I realised that if I delayed again, the number might be reduced to 200 or even 100. Again, those vehicles were not operational vehicles. What I needed was Hilux for operation. What they brought for me were BMW cars and jeeps. I said well, these cars are coming to me free; it is not from police allocation. If I refused, like my predecessor did, I would be doing the police no good. Even though the vehicles were not operational, they were not useless either. I had to give them as official cars to my commissioners.”
After purchasing the vehicles, some of which Ewulum claimed were Tokunbos (used, imported vehicles) which were paraded as new, Martins donated them to various arms of the armed forces and other government agencies. These included the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on April 2007; Nigerian Navy, September 2007; Nigerian Army, 2 August 2007; Directorate of Military Intelligence, 13 August 2007; Nigeria Customs, 13 August 2007, and Federal Ministry of Interior, 25 July 2007. Others that received donations were Nigeria Civil Defence Corps on 15 May 2007; Nigerian Immigration, September 2007 and Nigerian Intelligence Agency, 3 August 2007. Ewulum, however, called these Greek gifts aimed at compromising these agencies which may later ask questions. He argued: “Nobody is against EFCC being given a present. But not such a Greek gift. It is ill-motivated. You know, a compromising gift.
To them, it was like bread, but that was Kenny Martins’ manna falling from heaven.”
EFCC, according to Ewulum, was given 16 vehicles. The original request by the police was made by Ehindero on 10 February 2006 to Mrs. Cecilia Ibru who headed the Expenditure Committee. These were 5,400 Toyota patrol cars, 1000 lorries, 200 Unimogs, 100 armoured protective cars, four patrol helicopters, two citation aircraft, patrol boats, two-way VHF/FM Communication network equipment, two pairs of uniform for 320,000 policemen annually and others.
When Ewulum demanded that Martins account for all he had collected so far, Martins allegedly broke into his office without court order, procured a new padlock, moved his (Ewulum’s) personal effects and assigned his office to another person. In a petition to the Senate President, Ewulum’s lawyer, Amobi Nzelu wrote: “Presently Chief Kenny Martins has vowed to use his police connection and closeness to the police to eliminate our client, should he go ahead with this case. In a country with unresolved killings, one will not fold one’s hands and watch one’s life snuffed out by brutal bullets hence this petition to your office.”
The war has, apart from the issues at stake, gone personal. This is because, as one of those in opposition to Martins maintained, the antecedents of Martins and his lieutenant Dumuje are questionable. “Birds of a feather flock together,” a concerned police officer told TheNEWS.
Dumuje is said to be a wanted man in the US. He is being investigated over an alleged $2,000 fraud by Detective Pat Otero of San Juan Country Sheriff’s Office. The summary of the case, written by Detective Sergeant Tyler Truby, revealed that the Sheriff’s Office learned that Joe Hill was obtaining funds from residents in San Juan County (primarily from the Kirtland area) and transferring large quantities of money to a man in Nigeria. An investigation ensued. Detective Otero learned that between 2 December 2001 and 28 May 2004, Hill “wired money to Nigeria at least 235 times. At least $398,195 was wired to a Nigerian man named Ibrahim Dumuje. The total amount of money wired to Nigeria, from Kirtland, was at least $547,153.00”.
Through the investigation, Sheriff’s Detectives discovered that Hill was fraudulently obtaining the funds by tricking people into believing that he was attempting to get money owed him from the Nigerian government. Hill, as the investigation revealed, was using forged documents in an attempt to convince people that his actions were legitimate. Hill was promising a healthy return to the people for their investment. He was then forwarding the money to his associate, Ibrahim Dumuje, in Nigeria and depositing some of the funds into his own personal account. Most of the victims of the scheme were San Juan County residents. One victim was defrauded out of at least $166,000, Detective Truby revealed. Investigators were able to connect Dumuje and Hill as associates. By conducting an investigation into Dumuje and his activities, Detective Otero learned that this was not Dumuje’s first time to conduct fraudulent schemes. Dumuje, he said, had in the past been arrested and convicted of fraud in the United Kingdom, when it was discovered that Dumuje was the ring leader of a large group of Nigerians conducting fraudulent activities and obtaining large quantities of money. An arrest warrant was issued for Joe Hill for the charges, and bond was set at $500,000 by District Judge Thomas Hynes. Hill turned himself in to the Sheriff’s Office on Friday 16 September 2005, was able to post bond and was released on Monday 19 September 2005. An arrest warrant for Ibrahim Dumuje was issued.
Martins, according to his enemies, is not a trustworthy individual. As TheNEWS gathered, his image received a bashing when Obasanjo wanted to sell the idea of the Presidential Committee on Police Equipment to the Federal Executive Council. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar asked who was actually behind the idea. When the name of Martins came up, Atiku asked: “Can that man be trusted?” He told the President that Martins “is your in-law anyway.” Obasanjo did not allow that statement to land before intercepting it mid-air. “Yes, he is my in-law. But he is also your friend.” The Presidential Committee, thereafter, suffered a defeat and Kenny Martins changed gear. The committee later metamorphosed into an NGO, no thanks to Martins’ abracadabra.
In an article in The Nation, entitled “Martins and Police Equipment Scandal,” Mohammed Haruna portrayed the man as an inconsistent person. Although Martins said he never knew Ewulum from Adam, Haruna pointed out that they both were among signatories to an advertisement in the 4 March 1999 edition of THISDAY. That is, as members of ‘Group of Friends of Obasanjo,’ they thanked the entire people of Nigeria for “voting overwhelmingly for Chief Matthew Okikiolakan Olusegun Obasanjo as the next Executive President of Nigeria.”
Mallam Haruna also punctured Martins’ claim that he and Agharite worked together on the project for one year (Sunday Sun 9 September 2007). But in THISDAY of 4 October 2007, Martins said it was he and Dumuje “who worked for over six or nine months without seeing anybody else.”
Worse still, the columnist called Martins an arrogant person who likes to engage in delusion of grandeur. In THISDAY of 23 September, he claimed to have spent $2 billion on politics. “I don’t know Martins’ networth,” Haruna wrote, “but I’ve never heard his name mentioned among Nigeria’s rich, and even these would hesitate to boast of spending millions, never mind billions of dollars, just for the heck of promoting someone else’s political agenda.”
Apart from boasting that he played a key role in installing Obasanjo, Martins beat his chest on the claim that he helped to install Charles Taylor of Liberia. How? He claimed to have called Ibrahim Sabo, a former head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, to tell General Sani Abacha to instal Taylor in order to stop the bloodshed in that West African country.
But when Haruna called Sabo, the latter denied it. The columnist went further: “Instead, he was unflattering in his remarks about the handling of the fund of a non-governmental organisation similar to the one he (Martins) headed, called Pathfinder during Abacha’s tenure.” Haruna also wondered how Martins who was in Obasanjo’s bad books between 1999 and 2003 got the Committee approved. But the writer attributed this to Obasanjo’s “politics of self-perpetuation.”
All these notwithstanding, Martins, who gave various excuses to avoid granting this magazine an interview, has defended himself in different media. For example, Martins told The Glitterati of 23 September 2007 that there is no single fraud in the Police Equipment Foundation. “I have a name to protect, my integrity is unassailable. For over 30 years, I have built an impeccable reputation on national and international fora, and I am not going to allow anyone, I repeat, anyone or anybody, to get away with destroying this reputation.” He argued that there are reputable private sector leaders involved in the foundation, among them Cecilia Ibru, Managing Director of Oceanic Bank, Mr. Tony Elumelu Chief Executive of UBA, Dr. Pascal Edozie, Chief Festus Odimegwu, Femi Otedola, Chief Oparaeke.
“Let me ask you; will all these people lend themselves to a fraudulent organisation?”
On the origin of the idea, he admitted that after Agharite’s death, Dumuje approached him to enlist his support to raise funds for the Nigeria Police. He added: “I told them this was an idea some of us have been working on. Their projection was low ...N100 million strictly for body armour of the force. They couldn’t even secure the IG to accord them any form of approval… The two gentlemen gave me their consent to develop the project based on my enlarged vision. I now packaged what became known as Presidential Committee on Police Equipment Fund.”
Martins further gave an explanation on how the Presidential Committee transformed into an NGO. He said “a lot of donors were willing to donate money and equipment to the police, but insisted that they would not do so unless it was through a properly constituted body, certified public.”
As the committee’s time expired, Martins maintained that he advised government to turn this committee into a foundation (an NGO), for perpetuity and for it to achieve its objectives on a long term tenure. “I got the Honorable Minister’s approval for the registration of the Police Equipment Foundation. Although at this juncture, Godson Ewulum had surfaced with all kinds of blackmail, including writing to CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission) not to register the foundation,” he revealed. On the vehicles, Martins claimed that he was in possession of a letter by the IG requesting for 5,000 vehicles. He also promised to show a letter signed by the IG, requesting that the President should grant the foundation a waiver to bring in 2,500 out of the requested 5,000 vehicles.
Martins told ThisDAY: “ I will show you Ehindero’s letter to the President where he wrote 100BMW’s, 100 Land Rover vehicles, 800 Ford pick-ups and 1,500 Toyota pick-ups. We got the biggest ever waiver in the history of Nigeria. We also believe that no corporation, government or agency has bought 2,500 vehicles at a time. But we have been able to do that and by now we have paid N4 billion for 800 vehicles. Out of this, 600 buses have been delivered to the police. We have been able to get the support of Oceanic Bank and Zenith Bank to give the balance bank guarantee for N7.5 billion for the balance 1,600 vehicles that are coming. And between now and December we would have gone very far, if we haven’t finished.”