Anti-graft coalition, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate Zenith Bank for a breach of money laundering regulations over its alleged funding of the 2014 Ekiti State governorship election campaign, won by Governor Ayo Fayose.
Responding to the freezing of his accounts domiciled at Zenith Bank by the EFCC, which alleged illegal receipt funds from the Office of the former National Security Adviser, Fayose stated categorically that the said election campaign was principally funded by Zenith Bank Plc.
In a petition addressed to the acting Chairman of the commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, and signed by CSNAC Chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, the coalition noted that if the public confession of Governor Fayose that the bank principally funded his election campaign is true, Zenith Bank has fallen foul of the law. CSNAC added that the bank acted in defiance of the law on money laundering and laid down rules and procedures.
"With this open admission and allegations made by Governor Fayose, the alliance, funding and political interference would have foisted upon us a series of crimes committed by both parties. Such contributions and donations by the Zenith Bank Plc are unconstitutional and illegal.
"The law forbids and criminalizes the donation or contribution of funds and gifts by companies towards the activities or for the benefit of a political party.
"Section 221 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) expressly states that “No association, other than a political party, shall canvass for votes for any candidate at any election or contribute to the funds of any political party or to the election expenses of any candidate at an election."
CSNAC added that the Companies and Allied Matters Act Cap. C20 L.F.N. 2004 (CAMA) prohibits and criminalizes direct and indirect donation of money or gift to a political party, political association or for any political purpose.
The group quoted Section 38 (2) of CAMA, which states : " A company shall not have or exercise power either directly or indirectly to make a donation or gift of any of its property or funds to a political party or political association or for any political purpose; and if any company, in breach of this subsection makes any donation or gift of its property to a political party or political association, or for any political purpose, the officers in default and any member who voted for the breach shall be jointly and severally liable to refund to the company the sum or value of the donation or gift and in addition, the company and every such officer or member shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine equal to the amount or value of the donation or gift.”
On account of this, said CSNAC, Fayose and Zenith Bank are in gross violation of financial regulations guiding contributions by corporate organisations for political purposes.
"By virtue of the provisions of section 38(2) CAMA above, Zenith Bank Plc should be investigated for its role in the Ekiti State 2014 governorship election.
"If Fayose's confession is factual, the directors and officers of the bank who approved and took part in the donation of funds to Fayose for his election should be immediately arrested and prosecuted in line with the law.
"The sum of money allegedly donated must be accounted for, retrieved and refunded to the bank," demanded CSNAC.
The coalition explained that the major issue in the saga is the clear case of money laundering, as shown by the alleged movement of cash in a Zenith Bank bullion van from Abuja to Akure to prosecute the election.
"The said cash movement is obviously in gross contravention of established rules by the Central Bank of Nigeria and Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011. Section 1 of the Act provides:
"No person or body corporate shall; except in a transaction through a financial institution, make or accept cash payment of a sum exceeding-N5,,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of an individual; or N10,000,000 or its equivalent in the case of a body corporate.
"This transaction is a clear violation of the Act in reference and constitutes an offence within the powers of your Commission. The transaction, if found to be true, must have been conducted with the sole intention of circumventing the system in the illegal deal, in defiance of the law on money laundering and laid down rules and procedure," CSNAC concluded.