NGO under fire over N60m donations to IDPs

NGO under fire over N60m donations to IDPs
January 13 22:59 2019

A week after the Universal Agricultural Empowerment Development Initiative (UNAEDI), a non-governmental organization, donated relief materials to IDP camp in Nasarawa state, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) stormed the house of the founder of the organization, Engr. Austin Ighodaro, demanding for the N80 million that was paid into the organisation’s account.

UNAEDI had received donation from one of its partners to the tune of N60 million which it disbursed in form of relief materials to Kutara IDP camp in Nasarawa, IDP camps in Borno state and various orphanage homes in Abuja.

Eye witnesses who were at the scene of the incident said the EFCC operatives about six in number broke forced their way into the house after breaking the lovres with a pipe they pulled from the plumbing fitting, they destroyed the protectors where they used to gain entry into the house.

Once inside the house, the EFCC operatives were heard shouting “where is the money”, where is the eighty million.”

The same set of operatives had earlier stormed Mr. Ighodaro’s house on the afternoon of Friday, the 4th of January before returning on the midnight of Sunday, the 7th of January.

According to the eye witness, the men searched everywhere including the toilet, and store, where the wife of Mr. Ighodaro and his three children were holed up. Not done, the anti graft agency personnel turned the furniture upside down before going ahead to teargas a heavily pregnant Mrs. Ighodaro and the children present in the house including a-year-old infant. As they left, they took all their mobile phones, a Toyota Camry car belonging to Mr. Ighodaro and two other people; Uwa Francis, Mr. Ighdaro’s driver and Nwaocha Chima, who was in the house with the women and children when the EFCC operatives stormed the building.

The operatives were also alleged to have opened fire outside the apartment prompting fear and anxiety amongst other occupants of the neighborhood.

When contacted, EFCC’s spokesman, Tony Orilade, told our reporter that the Commission does not go to the house of those it is investigating at midnight.

“EFCC don’t operate that way. Why has the husband not reported the ‘callous’ act to the appropriate office for necessary action,” he added.

However, when lawyer to Mr. Ighodaro visited the EFCC office, he could not secure the bail of Francis and Chima as he could not meet their bail condition.

The EFCC had claimed that both men were arrested on allegation of “conspiracy”.

As at the time of writing the report, both men have been granted bail by the anti graft agency.

How it all began

Speaking with our correspondent via WhatsApp, Mr. Ighodaro, explained that his ordeal with EFCC started when in 2015 his account with GTB was debited. When he complained, he was told that it was a mistake that it would be rectified. After waiting and nothing was done, he threatened to take legal action against them. Before he knew what was happening, he was invited by the EFCC to explain the source of his donations.

According to him, after an investigation that lasted for one year, the investigating police officer in charge of the case said he had no case to answer.

Not satisfied, the founder of the non-governmental organization dragged GTB to court in April, and presently, the case is still in court.

He stressed that despite the various tactics being employed to intimidate him, he would not back down until he get justice.

He said: “they want to intimidate me the way they intimidated INNOSON. I no go run away,” he insisted.

It would be recalled that EFCC had alleged that Mr Chukwuma and his company, Innoson Motors Nigeria Ltd., between 2009 and July 2011 in Lagos, conspired to obtain by false pretence containers of motorcycles spare parts and raw materials, properties of GTB from Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, Apapa, Lagos.

They were alleged to have fraudulently induced staff of Mitsui OSK and Maersk Line to deliver to them via their clearing agents the goods which were imported from China in the name of GTB by falsely pretending that they were authorised by the bank to clear the goods.

According to the Commission, the company forged a Bill of laden numbered 598286020 of Maersk Line Limited and 11007950841 of Mutsui O.S.K Lines by knowingly putting a false GTB stamp and signature of the bank staff.