Armed with a court order, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has blocked over N116million belonging to the House of Representatives Minority Leader Leo Ogor.
The cash is the outstanding sum in the accounts of five of the six companies owned by Ogor with which he secured contracts from some agencies as constituency projects.
Apart from the freeze order, the EFCC is looking into a “curious” payment of over N318million to two of the companies by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The anti-graft agency is probing Ogor based on a petition against the House leadership by the suspended Appropriation Committee Chairman Abdulmumin Jibrin on the alleged padding of 2016 Budget and insertion of bogus constituency projects.
As part of the first stage of the investigation, EFCC detectives discovered that Ogor has 30 accounts, including six belonging to his companies, two dormant savings accounts and the rest personal.
The huge inflows into six of the 30 accounts attracted the EFCC.
The said accounts belong to six companies traceable to Ogor because he is the sole signatory to the accounts.
Most of the constituency projects facilitated by Ogor were awarded to the six companies.
The companies are Laurelton Global Services Limited; Zanny Concern Limited; Racen Integrated Global Nigeria Limited; Simplified Concept Limited; Fergio Ventures Nigeria Limited; and Peanard Nigeria Limited.
Of the six companies, two, Simplified Concept Limited and Laurelton, have Ogor as a serving director.
According to a document The Nation stumbled on, the anti-graft agency is investigating Ogor for the following allegations:
abuse of office; awarding constituency projects to his companies; contract splitting; being sole signatory to six accounts, which were not declared in his Asset Declaration Form; curious payment of over N318million into two of the accounts by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for undisclosed projects; and Other allegations in Jibrin’s petition.
Based on the allegations, the EFCC approached a Federal High Court presided over by Justice Binta Nyako for the blockage of the accounts of the six companies.
The Certified True Copy of the order was obtained by the EFCC on May 25, 2017.
The judge said: “After hearing I. Audu, counsel for the applicant, it is hereby ordered as follows:
“Leave is granted to the Chairman of the Commission or any officer authorised by him to instruct a Bank Examiner to issue an order, as specified in Form B of the schedule to the EFCC Act 2004 to managers of bank or any person having control of the banks where the accounts are, to freeze the accounts shown in the schedule attached to this application for 90 days.
“That an order is hereby made granting power to the chairman of the commission or any officer authorised by him to direct the banks shown in the schedule hereby attached to supply any information and to produce the opening documents to the accounts and the statements of accounts and to stop all outward payments, operations or transactions.”
About N116m was frozen in the accounts of five out of the six companies.
The breakdown is as follows: Laurelton Global Services Limited(N101, 149, 293.96); Racen Integrated Global Nigeria Limited(N5, 088, 293.50); Peanard (N2, 370,901.44); Zanny Concern Limited (N8,374,173.28) and Simplified Concept Limited (N7,000).
The EFCC opted to freeze the accounts following alleged suspicious payments, a source said.
The commission allegedly discovered that in 2014, the NDDC remitted N148, 342,641.65 into the account of Laurelton without any explanation in the bank’s records.
The same NDDC also paid N170, 555, 325.44 into the account of Racen Integrated Global Nigeria Limited for an “undisclosed” purpose.
A source close to the investigation said: “We have obtained the Certified True Copies of the assets declared by Ogor and none of the accounts of the six companies is included. In his asset declaration form which he filed on May 27, 2015, he declared that he has the following amounts: N16.4million; N1.8million; and N3.8million.
“We have also written to NDDC to clarify the transfers into the accounts of two of the six companies but the agency is yet to respond.
“Our detectives also discovered that Ogor is a director in two out of the six companies but he is a sole signatory to the accounts.
“On May 7, 2013, the board of Racen Integrated Global Nigeria Limited passed a resolution to make him the sole signatory of the company’s account without being a director. On June 27, 2014, Zanny Concern Limited also appointed Ogor the sole signatory of its account but there is no evidence that he is a director.
“The same thing applied to Laurelton Global Services Limited on August 28, 2014 when its board passed a resolution making Ogor a sole signatory to its account. He is also not a director or management staff of the company.”
Detectives have been sent to evaluate more than 20 constituency projects awarded to some of these companies by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and The National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.
The projects in Refugees Commission include the supply of three buses; three Toyota 18-seater buses; 68 tricycles, 220 generators; 220 motorcycles and others.
The projects in UBEC and the companies are as follows: Zanny(19/11/2014) –one block of three classrooms at Eru Primary School, Igbide at N9,180,835.45; Laurelton (19/11/2014) one block of three classrooms at Ivori priamry school, Isoko at N9,887,778; Racen(19/11/2014)-construction of three classrooms at Egburie Primary School, Ozoro; Simplified Concept: and construction of six classrooms on January 21, 2016 at Olordo Primary School, Ozoro at N9, 300,000.
The others are Laurelton(23/11/ 2015): supply of customised library equipment to selected schools iin Isoko North LGA at N16,050,000; Supply of instructional materials in Isoko North /South Federal Constituency(N14, 650,000); supply of customized equipment to selected schools in Isoko Federal Constituency(N15, 950,000); award of N9,200,928,90 to Simplified Concept in January 2016 for the rehabilitation of six classrooms at Egware Primary School, Orozo; and Racen: Construction of six classrooms, toilets and furniture at Itebighe Primary School(21/1/ 2016) at N12, 988.099.23.
It’s a non-issue, says Ogor
House Minority Leader Leo Ogor yesterday said the allegations bordering on constituency projects amounted to a non-issue.
He said: “If it is about Jibrin’s petition, is it not about passing budget padding? If they are investigating budget padding, what is the correlation between budget padding and constituency projects?
“Secondly, I’m not aware of anything but the fact remains that these constituency projects are awarded by these agencies and they go through the public procurement process and the essential thing is to go to the constituency and see whether those projects are on the ground or not. For me, that is non-issue.”
When told that specific constituency projects for classrooms construction and equipment of library from UBEC were traced to his company, Ogor asked one of our correspondents not to make an issue out of nothing.
He said: “What is wrong? Is there any law that says honorable members should not do a job? The most important thing is to see whether those jobs were done; I think that is the issue. If the contract was awarded to a company that has relationship with me, is the job done or not done? That is the issue. You don't make an issue out of anything.
“The fact is that a company is a separate entity; you must understand that in our law. So if the company has a relationship with me and the job was done, what is the problem with it?
“If the job is not done, you can make an issue of it, but if the job was done and met the business standards as attested to by the agency, then I don’t know what anybody is trying to talk about.
“Anyway whatever it is, if there is an issue, I will probably look at the issue and address it, but as far as I’m concerned, if a contract was awarded to anybody by an agency and the job is done to the satisfaction of the agency and the jobs are still on ground, except somebody is trying to give a dog a bad name for one specific reason or the other; if the job has been done and completed to the standards and it is still there for anybody to go and inspect and somebody wants to make an issue out of it, then let him or her go ahead and let’s hear whatever the issues are.
“To me, it’s a total non-issue”.