Three whistleblowers: Abdulmumin Musa, Stephen Sunday and Bala Usman have filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja against the Federal Government, claiming that they were the source of information leading to the recovery N13billion cash from a private apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The plaintiffs further claimed that they had in December 2016, approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Lagos and informed the agency that there was huge sum of monies kept in the apartment in Ikoyi.
They added that the agency eventually recovered the humongous money, while the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), reportedly claimed that the money belonged to it and meant for “covert operations.”
But the claim later led to the suspension and eventual removal of NIA’s former Director General, Amb. Ayodele Oke from office. The plaintiffs also named the Federal Government, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the EFCC as co-defendants to the suit.
The suit marked: FHC/ ABJ/CS/1158/2017; and dated November 22, is yet to be assigned to any judge. The plaintiffs said they were surprised when the EFCC announced that it was on the verge of paying 5% commission on the recovered money to another whistle-blower. The whistleblowers, who are determined to get their commission, have through their lawyer, Hammart and Co. (Tafida Chambers), written separate letters to both the AGF and the Minister of Finance, Mr. Kemi Adeosun, accusing EFCC of attempting to shortchange them by allegedly bringing certain people that were not original whistle blowers on the Ikoyi recovery.
In their petition dated August 24, which was received by office of AGF on September 8, the plaintiffs insisted that the people EFCC claimed it was relating with over the 5% commission were not the arrowhead of the whistleblowing.
The petition, which they submitted to the AGF through their lawyers, read in part: “Our clients informed us sometime in December 2016 that three (3) of them voluntarily walked into the office of the EFCC at 15A, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; and gave vital information that led to the recovery of over N13bn cash at the Ikoyi Towers, Lagos.
“That upon subsequent visit to give a detailed information as required by the commission to raid the tower, they were told if the operation was successful, 5% of the amount recovered will be their take home within 72 hours of recovery. They were also cautioned that if the information happened to be false, then they will definitely be in trouble; while they accepted because they were sure of their facts.
“That when the operation was carried out, it was successful, but since then they have not received any commendation by the commission, let alone be given any reward as stated; even though the EFCC have their names and phone numbers in their possession.”
The petitioners said rather than to do the needful, some of the EFCC workers told them that they were not the only people that supplied information on the Ikoyi Tower, though they declined to disclose the identities of the other purported whistle blowers.
The plaintiffs said they later met with the Head of EFCC Operations, Alhaji Samaila Muhammed; and were told on their visit that the number of whistle-blowers involved in the Ikoyi loot had increased to nine.
The plaintiffs also alleged through their lawyer thus, “That in another letter dated November 15, they had drew attention of the Minister of Finance to their petition pending before the AGF, wherein they prayed Federal Government to put on hold any plan to pay the wrong whistleblowers the 5% commission on the Ikoyi loot, until their complaint is thoroughly investigated and justice done.
“It is therefore the brief of our clients that we request you to put hold the payment of the whistle blowers’ fee/entitlement until our clients’ complaints are sorted out. That considering the vital role our clients played in exposing the whereabouts of the recovered money, our clients cannot be sidelined or denied their entitlements, doing so will amount to injustice to our client.”
The Daily Times recalls that another person who earlier insisted that he was the authentic whistle-blower was reported to have been sent to a psychiatric facility after he protested delay in the payment of the 5% commission to him. The said whistleblower, who was not identified, was represented by his lawyer, Mr. Yakubu Galadima, who bemoaned that the EFCC had placed the burden of caring for the whistleblower on him in the aftermath of the discovery.
Shortly after Galadima’s outcry, the FG, through the Minister of Finance, said it was perfecting the process to pay the whistleblower shortly.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs are also asking the court to declare that FG, represented by the AGF and the Federal Ministry of Finance, as well as the EFCC, “are bound to comply with the whistleblowers’ Executive Policy or whistleblowers’ Executive Order to pay 2.5%-5% of whistle blowing fees or percentage as issued by the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
They also want the court to declare that they actively participated and are instrumental to the whistleblowing or disclosure of information to the EFCC or officers which resulted to recovery of $43.4 million, N23.3m and 27,800 Euros (about N13bn) at Flat 7 Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos state.”
The plaintiffs are further asking the court to issue a mandatory injunction restraining the Ministry of Finance and their agents from excluding or denying them from payment of the 2.5-5% of the whistleblowing fees or percentage of the amount of the money recovered as a result of the whistleblowing or information disclosed by them to the EFCC.
Andrew Orolua, Abuja.