Transparency Nigeria Group (TNG) has publicly requested the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sanction Wema Bank over financial crime allegations against ex-Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu and Alpha Beta Consulting.
The TNG also called for the dismissal and probe of Wema Bank Chief Executive Officer, Ademola Adebise.
The charge is contained in a statement made available to DAILY POST on Tuesday by Dahiru Mohammed, the Communications Director.
The spokesman said Adebise “abused his office and contravened several extant regulations of the CBN”.
The body accused him of “covering up a massive fraudulent scheme perpetrated by companies and proxies of All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Ahmed Bola Tinubu”.
“Mr Adebise failed in his fiduciary duties and allowed a powerful politician to use Wema Bank as a clearing house for laundered funds”, it noted.
Interestingly, the demand to the CBN was made barely 24 hours after the APC leader, fondly called Jagaban, visited President Muhammadu Buhari to declare the desire to succeed him in 2023.
The TNG drew Nigerians’ attention to a 2021 Peoples Gazette (PG) publication that indicted Wema Bank following serious allegations by ex-Alpha Beta Consulting Managing Director, Dapo Apara.
It stated that after Apara’s outburst in 2018, associates of Omobola Tinubu, who were allegedly running a shell company, moved to protect their interests.
Records published showed how Ocean Trust Limited transferred funds between its accounts in Wema Bank, moving N16.4 billion between January and June 2019.
Apara had mentioned Ocean Trust, in court documents, as one of the firms allegedly used to siphon cash from Alpha Beta, Lagos State Government tax collector.
Ocean Trust is linked to “Tinubu’s associates” listed as Yemi Adefarakan, Frank Obi and Kehinde Durosinmi-Etti.
PG reported that on January 2, 2019, it moved N1.5billion from its 0702892574 Wema Bank account to 0122613238 account, under the description “Closure proceeds”.
On January 9, N800million was transferred to the same account. On January 16, 2019, N500million was wired.
N1.5billion, N800million and N500million were transferred to the account on February 1, February 8 and February 15.
On March 4, the account got N1.5billion, while N800 million and N500million were transferred on March 11 and 18.
On April 3, the account received N1.5billion, N800million credited to it on April 10 and another N500million on April 17.
On May 3, N1.5billion was wired to the account, N600million and N500million were credited to the account on May 10 and May 17.
On June 3, N1.5billion was transferred to the account, N600million on June 10 and another N500million on June 17.
Via text, Head of Marketing Communication at Wema Bank, Funmilola Falola, said she was indisposed and could not speak.
Chief Finance Officer, Tunde Mabawonku, said the claims against the bank had a political undertone.
The official reminded our correspondent that Tinubu declared on Monday and that accusations against politicians increase in an election year.
“I’m not even aware of the allegations, I don’t think I’ve heard of them (TNG) before. But the appeal will be to check the reliability or the credibility of the group.
“A lot of them…the elections (are approaching), everybody is trying to use whatever means they can to drag everybody in the mud.
“The accounts they are referring to is not even a Wema account unless they have the specifics on what was used.”
Asked to confirm if Wema Bank’s stand is that the call for sanction is political, Mabawonku responded: “Yes. We are not aware that we have failed in any responsibility to carry out our position as a bank.”
In his writ of summons filed at a Lagos High Court on October 2, 2020, Apara alleged that Tinubu demanded 70 per cent of the shareholding through surrogates.
The claimant categorically proclaimed that Alpha Beta was involved in fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.
He said the consultants got more than N150billion as a 10 per cent commission for “computing, tracking and reconciling” Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), a job description that sparked outrage.
Apara told the court that the amount was collected over 10 years and insists he is the brain behind the revenue collection “hijacked” by Tinubu when he was Governor.
The defendants are Alpha Beta, Tinubu, and the current MD, Akin Doherty, Commissioner for Finance under Tinubu.
But Alpha Beta maintains it did nothing wrong. In a statement, Doherty accused Apara of trying to make headlines to deflect attention from his criminal activities.
The MD said Apara was on a personal vendetta because he was removed for “fraud and unethical practices”.
Among others, Doherty alleged that his predecessor converted $5million to pay for cloud-based services eventually discovered to be worth less than $300,000.
Apara, according to him, was a signatory to all Alpha Beta accounts from inception until his sack in June 2018 for “fraudulent misconduct”.
“In July 2018, further evidence of his fraudulent and unethical practices was uncovered, including the revelation that he converted approximately N6billion belonging to Alpha Beta to his personal use.
“This fraud was reported to the authorities and Mr. Apara was subsequently invited to return to Nigeria from his hiding place in Dubai to render an account. To date, he has refused to do so.
“Instead, Mr. Apara chose to embark on an aggressive smear campaign seemingly in an effort to blackmail us into ending the investigations into his misconduct”, Ayeni noted.
In reaction to Apara’s revelations, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ex-Deputy National Chairman, Bode George, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe Alpha Beta.