…urges Finance Minister, EFCC to Stop Payment
The battle for the payment of 5 percent entitlements to the original whistleblowers of the Ikoyi loot has continued as the petitioners have headed to the Federal High Court, Abuja Division to seek for justice as both the Finance Minister and the Attorney General of the Federation(AGF), who had earlier received petitions and appeals had remained silent in this era of fighting corruption by the present administration.
In a suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1158/2017 dated November 22, 2017 by the plaintiff through their lawyers Hammart & Co at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, they are seeking the court “declaration that the Federal Government of Nigeria represented by the Attorney General of the Federation and Federal Ministry of Finance who are defendants in this suit and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), Bala Usman Maina, Stephen Sundayand Mr Sherriff are bound to comply with the whistleblowers Executive Policy or whistleblowers Executive Order to pay 2.5%-5% of whistle blowing fees or percentage as issued by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Plaintiff is also seeking a “declaration that the plaintiff, the 4th, 5th and 6th defendants actively participated and are instrumental to the whistleblowing or disclosure of information to the 1st defendant staff or officers which resulted to the 1st defendant’s recovery of the sums $43.4 million. N23.3 million and 27,800 Euros at Flat 7 Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos state.
The plaintiff is also seeking a mandatory injunction restraining the 2nd defendant by themselves, their agents, staff or officers from excluding or denying the plaintiff from payment of the 2.5-5% of the whistleblowing fees or percentage of the amount of the money recovered as a result of the whistleblowing or information disclosed by the plaintiff to the 1st defendant.
The original whistle-blowers had earlier 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 shortchanged.
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.
The whistleblowers requested the Finance Minister to put on hold the earlier plan to pay the wrong whistleblowers 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.”
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, 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, Lagosand 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.
Upon various meetings by the three persons mentioned above, 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.