Soji Ajibola, Ibadan
Eight former staff of the First Bank of Nigeria have accused the officials of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission of demanding N96 million before their release.
The suspects were accused of stealing dirty naira notes at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The ex-bankers in their separate sworn affidavit deposed to at a Federal High Court, Ibadan, narrated how EFCC officials maltreated them for their failure to raise N96 million in December 2014.
The suspects, Ayodele Festus Adeyemi, Isaac Akano, and Ajiwe Sunday Adegoke through their counsel, Barrister Micheal Lana, the defendants in the case alleged that Mr Hammadama Bello, who was asked to investigate the case, insisted that he must benefit from the scam, hence asking them to raise N96m to set them free.
The affidavit reads: “He told us that he was not going to prosecute anybody but if we wanted to go back to our offices that day, each of us must bring N12m each.
“We told him that as we stood before him, we had no money in our account. He asked for our bank account and we gave him. Immediately, he went to check the account and he found that there was no money there.
“He then said he would detain us there. Upon hearing this, my Manager, Mr. Emmanuel, told him that he had no money but promised to give him N500,000 and was ready to deposit his international passport. He called his wife and she brought the passport and he set him free but detained us.
“He mentioned names of those who have money in their account and asked them to pay. He said he had done his investigation and discovered that Mr. Adeyemi, Akano and Aleshe have properties everywhere.
As a result, he took us to Abuja and kept us in a German cell. We were kept in an underground cell with no windows such that one cannot know the difference between day or night and the heat was so unbearable that no human being can last for a month alive there.
“In December 23, 2014, Hammadama Bello came to us in the cell and asked us whether we wanted to be released from the hell of a dungeon in which we were and spend Christmas with our families, if so, we must pay N1m. At that time, we were ready to do anything so as not to die in that place.
“We all begged him to take N500,000 for him to at least release us to spend the Christmas out of that deadly cell.
“He assured that there would not be prosecution because the president at that time, Goodluck Jonathan had said that dirty money issue was more of administrative problem of Central Bank of Nigeria, but he has the power not to release us on bail.”
The ex-bankers were; Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Muniru Adeola, Toogun Kayode Philip, Isaq Akano, Ayodele Festus Adeyemi, Oyebamiji Akeem, Ayodeji Aleshe and Ajiwe Sunday Adegoke.
The defendants further alleged that they paid N6 million to Bello through a banker, Ademola Oni working with Wema Bank.
“After payment of the money, Hammadama Bello and his lawyer started mounting pressure on us that if we do not want prosecution, we must pay the money. That was when we discovered that in order to force us to pay the N12 million, he had obtained an order from the Oyo State High Court to seize not only our properties but properties of our wives, which he has rented out through an estate agent, Festus Azikagbon and he is collecting rent.”
Bello, when contacted, said that he was aware of the allegation.
Bello who spoke on Wednesday, however, insisted that the EFCC had issued a rejoinder on the allegation. The EFCC has issued a rejoinder. The EFCC has issued a rejoinder, please. Please, go to EFCC website and see, the EFCC has issued a rejoinder#,” he said.