The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has allegedly authorised the leasing of the Chief of Naval Staff Guest House in Abuja seized by the anti-graft agency to a private organization for N36 million; Daily Post reported.
The property which is currently under court dispute was meant to be a safe house for the Nigerian Navy in line with international best practices. A safe house as gathered by DAILY POST is an apartment or a house designated for secret intelligence gathering or operations base.
The anti-graft agency had on May 25, 2016 arraigned Former Chief of Naval Staff, Usman Jibrin (rtd) alongside Rear Admiral Bala Mshelia (rtd), Rear Admiral Shehu Ahmadu (rtd) and a company – Harbour Bay International Limited on a four-count charge bordering on alleged criminal conspiracy and purchase of a property valued at N600 million while the first three defendants were still in active service.
In the charges against the quartet, the EFCC alleged that the ex-service chiefs bought the property from the account of Naval Engineering Services without the said purchase contract being captured in the budget.
It was also alleged that the documentation for transfer of ownership of the property was done such that a private company owned by the family of Vice Admiral Jibrin became the buyer.
However, the defendants pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them before Justice Sadiq Umar of the FCT High Court Maitama, Abuja.
In view of their plea, Justice Umar commenced trial on the matter.
The EFCC allegedly pre-empted the courts and leased the property situated at Plot Number 2717 Cadastral Zone A06, Maitama District (7 Colorado close, Maitama), Abuja to a private organization said to be owned by one Chief Atang..
During preliminary investigations on the matter prior to arraignment, the EFCC had requested the Naval Headquarters for documents in respect of the said property.
The request was obliged through a letter dated 7th January 2016. In the letter, the Nigerian Navy informed Magu that the property in question belongs to the Navy as against claims by the anti-graft agency that the guest house is under the ownership of Jibrin.
Four documents to support the position of the Nigerian Navy were attached to the letter addressed to Magu. The documents were: Deed of Assignment between Petrus Ogwu Nigeria Limited and Harbour Bay Nigerian Limited, Power of Attorney between Petrus Ogwu Nigeria Limited and Harbour Bay Nigerian Limited, Deed of Assignment between Harbour Bay Nigerian Limited and Naval Engineering Services Limited, Power of Attorney between Harbour Bay Nigerian Limited and Naval Engineering Services Limited.
A copy of the letter obtained by Daily Post showed that the letter was signed by Rear Admiral G. A. Anyankpele for the Chief of Naval Staff, and stamped as received by the EFCC on 8 January 2016.
The letter by the Nigerian Navy was admitted in court as evidence of no wrongdoing by the ex-service chiefs on March 28, 2017, because the anti-graft agency had earlier dropped the letter either by omission or commission while filing charges in court as regards the ownership of the property 10 months ago.
However, with the matter already in court, the EFCC allegedly authorized an estate surveyor and valuer – Kachi Okpara & Co. – to let the property to a prospective tenant.
It was gathered that several prospective tenants including one Akeem A. Umar, requested from the estate agent, the terms and conditions “Subject to Contract” of the property.
On the 18th of August 2016, a response letter emanating from Kachi Okpara & Co. signed by one Tony Okpara was delivered to Akeem A. Umar.
The property has a six bedroom detached duplex, with one room service quarters, guest chalet, gym house, security house, and swimming pool..
A probe as to the exact identities of individuals or organization using the property was not answered. There was also no signpost or banner displaying the name of the organization occupying the property for office use.
Meanwhile, it was allegedly gathered that N36 million paid as two years rent on the property was wired to a yet to be confirmed beneficiary with the estate agent serving as conduit for the transaction instead of through direct deposit to the Treasury Single Account (TSA), if there was a legal directive authorizing the leasing of the property.
All effort made efforts to reach Kachi Okpara & Co on telephone was abortive the calls did not go through as numbers on its letterhead were switched off. Several attempts over the course of another 24 hours produced no result.
In lieu of the calls, an email was sent to the estate agent which was yet to be replied as at the time of filing this report, Daily Post reported.
When the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwajaren, was contacted on telephone by Daily Post over the alleged leasing of the Naval property seized by the anti-graft agency to a private organization, he requested for highlights of the allegation in an SMS which was obliged him. But 24 hours later, he was yet to respond to the SMS.
Another telephone contact was established with Uwajaren to get the EFCC’s side of the story. He simply said: “I will respond.” On when to expect his response, he said: “You will get it today.” However, the day ended without a response from the anti-graft agency whether officially or otherwise. Daily Post alleged.