Money Laundering: WEMA Bank’s Contribution to Lagos Assembly’s Alleged Misappropriation of N28.8b
Following an audacious move by the Legislative Probity and Accountability (LPA), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) calling on the Lagos State House of Assembly to account for its N28.8b running cost, an old generation bank, WEMA Bank, has been fingered as one of the financial institutions used by the lawmakers to launder tax payers’ money.
Those who are in the know alleged that Wema Bank may be one of the bank used by Lagos State House to launder and steal part of the N28. 8b in a mysterious ways with the connivance of the bank manager of Wema who is also a top member of the Association of Senior Staff of Banks Insurance and Financial Institutions
Last year, an exclusive investigation by Global News, which is backed by impeccable documents and facts, had uncovered how the Lawmakers, with the assistance of some corrupt WEMA bank officials, use fictitious bank accounts to launder money for their personal use.
It was discovered that every two or three days, at least the sum of three million naira (3,000,000) is being laundered into an account with WEMA bank, and almost immediately, the money is being disbursed into several accounts of the Lawmakers.
A source at the Lagos State House of Assembly, who craved anonymity, explained that “this is just one of the many avenues that the politicians use to defraud Nigerians of their money. They achieve it through the assistance of some unscrupulous bank officials.”
“Some of the bank accounts they (the Lawmakers) use to perpetrate this fraud are arranged for them by the bankers, who in turn get their own share of the loot. The details of their numerous shady deals with the bank in question will throw you off balance,” our source added.
The irony of this fraud which has assumed some form of international dimension is that the account department of the assembly claimed not to know how the money is getting to WEMA bank account of the private company account used in the fraud for onward disbursement into the lawmakers private accounts.
The LPA has therefore maintained that if the Speaker Mudashiru Obasa led House fails to account for the fund, it would mobilise Nigerians and compel the Assembly to do the needful.
In a statement issued by its Chairman, Olu Fajana, the group noted that it had watched with keen interest latest moves by the Assembly to impeach Governor Akinwunmi Ambode over alleged misconduct and infractions in the state’s 2018 budget and the proposed 2019 appropriation bill. “While we will refrain from dabbling into the politics of this misadventure, we demand that the Lagos lawmakers should come to equity with clean hands. It is not our duty to ask the lawmakers not to probe Ambode if he has committed any infractions, but Obasa has been collecting N9.6 billion each year and has so far pocketed N28.8 billion as running cost.
“Of the amount, members have been paid only N2.4 billion in three years. Where did the remaining over N26.4 billion go? The House should answer this question and account for the funds before going ahead with Ambode’s impeachment agenda. It is alarming that the House collects N800 million monthly as running cost, out of which each of the 40 members collects N2 million. This amounts to N9.6 billion annually and in three years, the House has taken N28.8 billion,” the statement reads.
The group also stated that it was obvious that the whole essence of locking Ambode from presenting the 2019 budget proposal since last year is to cripple his government and make him vulnerable.
“It is worrisome that the state legislature has abdicated its responsibility and is now busy seeking grounds to impeach the governor four months to the end of his tenure. In this regard, we note the frantic attempts by the governor’s adversaries to accuse him of funding the campaign of opposition governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje, having failed to find any evidence that he sponsored the thugs that disrupted All Progressives Congress (APC)’s governorship campaign rally a few weeks ago.”