Okpurhe: “whistleblower” that never was – Malami’s rejoinder

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The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar has in a seemingly long rejoinder to the recent spate of media report about a whistleblower’s letter to President Muhammadu Buhari faulted the claims of his accuser.

In a lengthy statement signed by his media aide,Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the AGF insists there is no basis for paying the “whistleblower”.

Read ’s statement below:

: “whistleblower” that never was

In view of the recent media hype related to an issue that was presented as whistle-blower related, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (HAGF) and Minister of Justice,
Abubakar Malami, SAN wishes to notify the general public that:

  1. On 11th June, 2018 one Mr. John forwarded a hand-written
    letter to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and
    Minister of Justice titled “NOTICE OF ALLEDGE (SIC) FRAUD OF
    1,034,515,000 USD IN ACCOUNT NUMBER (0013670344) WITH UNITY BANK PLC”.
    Mr. John Okpurhe also forwarded a Memorandum of Understanding signed
    between him and a Law Firm of one Mammam Maiyaki & Co.
  2. The said letter alleged that the Nigerian Ports Authority operates
    an account containing looted funds amounting to the sum of USD
    $1,034,515,000.000 (one billion, thirty four million, five hundred and
    fifteen thousand United States Dollars).
  3. By way of setting machineries in motion and springing into action,
    on 13th June, 2018 the Office of the HAGF wrote a letter  to the
    Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit requesting for forensic analysis
    of the account.
  4. After thorough and due analyses of the account, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit replied the Office of the HAGF with the
    report of their findings in a letter on 22nd June, 2020. The following findings were made:

a)    The Account number 0013670344 does not belong to the Nigeria
Ports Authority. However, the agency has an account 0013680344 with the
bank.

b)   There is a pending litigation involving Nigerian Ports Authority
(being the defendant/Judgment debtor/applicant), Aminu Ibrahim and
Company & Gboye Ayoade and Company (being the plaintifs/Judgment
creditors/respondents)  and Unity Bank as well as 9 (nine) other banks
(being garnishees) in suit No. FHC/L/CS/882/10.

c)     The claim by Mr. Okpurhe that the account has $1,034,515 (one
billion, thirty-four million, five hundred and fifteen thousand dollars only) was not found in the account.

d)   The Most similar balance to the reported amount was $1,034,515
(One million, thirty four thousand, five hundred and fifteen dollars
and nine cents only) which was closing balance on the account as at 31st October, 2017. This is almost a year before the whistleblower’s
letter). And the highest balance in the account was never up to five million dollars as at December 10th 2007.

e)    The sum of $939,019.79 (Nine hundred and thirty nine thousand,
nineteen dollars and seventy nine cents) was the initial amount in the
account as at 27th August, 2010 when the account was put to garnishee
order, while the difference represents accrued interest over the
period between 27th August, 2010 and 4th December, 2019 when the
transfer was effected to the judgment creditors.

f)     The account has been on Post No Debit (PND) since 2nd November, 2015.

g)    Nigeria Port Authority operates an account with the Unity Bank
no. 0013670344

h)   Bank Statement revealed that on 4th December, 2019 that the sum
of $1,057,772.03 (One Million, Fifty-seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and
Seventy Two Dollars, Three Cents was debited in favour of suit no.
FHC/L/CS/582/2010 GARNISHEE ORDER NISI- AMINU IBRAHIM & CO & ANOR. VS NIGERIAN PORTS AUTHORITY SUIT.

  1. Following the Forensic Report of the Nigerian Financial
    Intelligence Unit and that of Special Investigation Panel, the Head of
    Asset Recovery and Management Unit at the Office of the HAGF notified
    the Whistle-Blower in writing via letter (Ref. No.
    HAGF/ARMU/WBO/2018/1 dated 27th July, 2018 informing him that:-

“Financial analysis and enforcement investigation was carried out on
the account under reference. Regrettably, however, I am to inform you
that the account is a subject of litigation before the Federal High
Court in Lagos Judicial Division. Accordingly you are advised that the
subject matter is subjudice”.

  1. The disclosure in its own right could not qualify as a whistle
    blowing case that could have entitled the purported whistle blower to
    any fees in view of the following:

(i) The fact that there is a litigation going on relating to the
account which makes that the matter a public domain issue and in
essence could not be tagged “Whistle-Blowing”.

(ii) The alleged account number was never found.

(iii) The purportedly alleged amount was never in the targeted account.

  1. Being unsatisfied with the letter, the “whistle-blower” transmitted
    another application dated July 27th, 2018 stating that the said
    account is a cloned one.  He further engaged a forensic auditing firm,
    Crescent House Limited via MOU in which the firm forwarded an
    application to the Office of the HAGF to be engaged as Whistle blower.
    He also introduced a law firm, F.C Dikeocha and Associates  to the
    Office of HAGF a letter of introduction dated 11th July, 2018 attaching revocation letter of authority of Mamman Mayaki & CO.
  2. It is interesting for the general public to note that, the “whistle-blower” changes his counsels and presented four counsels four times, in the following order:

(a)             Mamman Mayaki & Co on 12th June, 2018 to

(b)            F.C Dikeocha and Associates on 11th July, 2018,

(c)             JK Gadzama LLP on 13th November, 2018

(d)            Falana & Falana’s Chamber on 25th February, 2020

10(a). In a letter dated Novemeber, 2018 to head of ARMU, PSC Bunmi
Naiyeju-Adelaiye (Mrs) ( a staff at the Assets complained that her
life was threatened by associates of the Whistle-Blower one Mr. Isreal
Eshanekpe,

10(b). “Mr. Israel Eshanekpe threatened my life with calls and text
messages claiming that the alleged monies were in the recovery account
and the Office of the HAGF has failed to pay his 5%. Also made allegation of fraud and compromise against the government officials involved in this recovery”

  1. Due to the desperation and behavior of the whistle blower his last
    solicitors, JK Gadzama LLP wrote him on 6th May, 2019 a letter, which was copied to the Office of the HAGF titled “Withdrawal of Legal
    Services in the Matter of Request of payment due Mr. Ukpurhe John under the Whistle blower Policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria”. Part of the letter reads:

“We have been handling the referenced matter judiciously right from
our briefing in November, 2018 and have accorded it all the time and
expertise required. To our dismay, our efforts have been undermined by
your continuous misguided comments and unfounded distrust for which
you had previously tendered a written apology. As a result, it has
become imperative for the Firm to immediately withdraw our services as
your counsel in this matter effective from date of this letter”.

  1. The Office of the Nigerian Port Authority was consulted and in a
    letter dated 11th June, 2020, the Managing Director conveyed to the
    Office of the HAGF stated thus:

“Please note that the said account has never been operated by the
Nigerian Ports Authority and this evidenced by letter reference
UB/TICP/SO/TO dated February, 2020 from Unity Bank Plc which is a
response to the Authority’s letter reference no: HQ/GMF/AD/B5/098
dated the 12th of February, 2020”.

  1. Perhaps, the “whistle-blower” got to know that on 4th December,
    2019 the sum of $1,057,772.03 (One Million, Fifty-seven Thousand,
    Seven Hundred and Seventy Two Dollars, Three Cents) and not
    $1,034,515,000 (one billion, thirty four million, five hundred and
    fifteen thousand United States Dollars) as claimed by the
    “whistle-blower” and was the account number 0013680344 and not account
    number 0013670344 as wrongly claimed by the “whistle-blower” and it
    was that amount that was debited in favour of suit no.
    FHC/L/CS/582/2010 GARNISHEE ORDER NISI- AMINU IBRAHIM & CO & ANOR. VS
    NIGERIAN PORTS AUTHORITY SUIT. He assumed, and wrongly so, that the
    money was recovered by the Federal Government and transferred into the
    account because of his “whistle-blowing”.

14.  On 17th June, 2020 the Office of the HAGF received a letter
written on 14th January, 2020 signed by Mr.  Okuprhe John on 17th
January, 2020 claiming non-payment of whistle blowing fees alleging
that his  “action resulted in the discovery and recovery (of the
funds), by the Head of Assets Recovery and Management Unit in the
Ministry of Justice (Hajia Ladidi Mohammed) on 11th June, 2018. I have
since not received my reward as there have been series of deceits from
the department even after the money has been recovered, hence this
petition for the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of
Justice’s necessary action”.

  1. It is important that the general public note that the matter was
    already in court before the “whistle blower” wrote to the Office.
    Subsequent correspondence proved that. It was therefore, never an
    issue of whistle blowing. The account was put on PND and the amount
    was transferred to the plaintiffs following garnishee order.
  2. By Writ of Summons dated the 6th day of October, 2006 the
    plaintiffs commenced a suit against the Nigerian Port Authority
    claiming Orders of the Court directing the authority to pay the sum of
    USD $9,186,701 (nine million, one hundred and eighty-six thousand
    seven hundred and one United States Dollars) and N144,303, 981.00 (One
    hundred and forty-four million, three hundred and three thousand, nine
    hundred and eighty one naira) to the plaintiffs, being the alleged
    agreed fee for consultancy services rendered by the Plaintiffs and
    interest on the said sums at the rate the of 10%, from 27th April,
    2004 until the final liquidation of the debt.
  3. From the forgoing, the man was not in any way connected with the
    whistle-blowing over the account. The transfer of the money was not
    due to his letters of alleged “whistle-blowing”. The monies were not
    transferred to the designated assets recovery account at the Central
    Bank of Nigeria. He cannot in any way claim any fee for the work that
    he was never responsible.
  4. The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister
    of Justice remains resolute to the fight against corruption,
    enforcement of whistle-blowing policy and ensure that no whistle
    blower is short-changed having done what is legally acceptable in the
    interest of the public good.
  5. No amount of desperation or campaign of calumny will deter us or
    make the Office of the HAGF alter the laid down procedure of doing
    things in accordance with the extant laws and regulations.

Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu
(SA Media and Public Relations,
Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice)
Tuesday 30th day of June, 2020


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