The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has granted administrative bail to Christy Olabode, the prime suspect in a N70 million furniture allowances fraud at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
However, the EFCC is still holding Ms. Olabode’s brother, Abdul-Shehu Obaze, a staff at FAAN’s commercial department in Ilorin, Kwara State. Mr. Obaze is being investigated as someone who actively connived with his sister in the diversion of funds at the aviation agency.
An EFCC source told our correspondent that Ms. Olabode was released last weekend on humanitarian grounds since she is nursing a newborn baby who is less than six months old. “We had to grant her administrative bail because the EFCC doesn’t have any facilities to take care of nursing mothers, but we told her that she would be needed from time to time as the investigation progresses,” said the EFCC source. He added, “The administrative bail doesn’t mean she’s been cleared or freed by us. The investigation is still ongoing.”
The source revealed that the suspect’s husband, who is also a staff of FAAN, stood in as surety for her “and has in fact written a statement that if she refuses to appear, he should be arrested.”
Ms. Olabode was detained for more than a week detained by the anti-graft agency in Abuja as the commission intensified its investigation into her role in the alleged manipulation of N70 million furniture allowances at FAAN between 2013 and 2016.
A senior administrative source at FAAN told our correspondent that Ms. Olabode would remain suspended from the aviation agency pending the outcome of the investigation by EFCC.
Our EFCC source stated that Mr. Obaze, the brother to Ms. Olabode who has been detained for more than two weeks, remains in detention. The source revealed that Mr. Obaze “has provided some useful information to us [EFCC investigators] on the diversion of funds in the FAAN.”
About two weeks ago, the EFCC had invited all the top management staff of FAAN to Abuja for questioning to determine whether they were complicit in the fraud. As part of the investigation, the anti-graft agency collected the top management staff’s Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) in order to facilitate a thorough investigation into the fraud.
An EFCC source disclosed that Mr. Obaze claimed that he had been funneling the sum of N2.5 million each month to a member of FAAN’s top management, reportedly telling investigators that the payoff came from the diverted N70 million.
Some of the directors whose BVN details were collected included the Director of Administration, Ikechi Uko, Director of Operations, Captain Henry Omeogu, Director of Human Resources, Hajia Salamatu Umar-Eluma, and Director of Maintenance and Engineering, Olufemi Ogunode. Also invited to Abuja by EFCC was one Mr. Njoku, FAAN’s Head of Audit.