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Emiefele: Panic At CBN, NIRSAL As Investigators Swing Into Action

The upper echelons of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are reportedly experiencing anxiety and apprehension as a team assigned to support President Bola Tinubu’s Special Investigator begins to uncover intelligence findings, according to a report from Daily Trust.

In the wake of the dismissal and subsequent arrest of Godwin Emefiele, President Tinubu appointed Jim Obazee as a Special Investigator to probe the activities of the CBN and related entities. Tinubu cited the fundamental objective outlined in Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution as the basis for Obazee’s appointment, aiming to further the administration’s anti-corruption efforts.

Obazee, the former CEO of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) until 2017, was tasked with reporting directly to the president, effective immediately. Subsequently, Obazee requested the deployment of four senior police officers to his office to facilitate the smooth execution of his assignment.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) approved this request in a letter dated September 6, listing the deployed officers as DCP Eloho Edwin Okpoziakpo, CSP Celestine Odo, CSP Segun Aderoju, and DSP Tijani A. Bako.

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Reports suggest that the preliminary intelligence gathered by the investigative team, led by DCP Eloho Edwin Okpoziakpo, is causing unease among top management staff of the CBN and the Nigerian Incentive Risk-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL). The investigation reportedly focuses on NIRSAL and the Anchor Borrowers Programme, which have been subjects of ongoing scrutiny.

President Tinubu has recently called for the recovery of all funds allocated to these agricultural programs. Earlier, Daily Trust conducted an investigation into multiple corruption allegations surrounding NIRSAL under the former Managing Director, Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed, who was dismissed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in December of the previous year.

The investigative team is also expected to scrutinize how Anchor Borrowers Funds were utilized as fixed deposits by individuals close to the embattled CBN governor. According to an insider, certain individuals, including an aide to the former CBN governor, operated a total of 61 bank accounts, including 44 fixed deposit accounts and 2 treasury bills accounts.

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In addition to these investigations, the team is poised to examine the alleged allocation of approximately 600,000 monthly for the upkeep of the former MD’s dogs and the N5.6 billion wheat project scandal in Kano and Jigawa states.

The IGP chose DCP Eloho as the head of the Special Investigator’s support team to bolster President Tinubu’s anti-corruption efforts and overhaul the Nigeria Police Force. DCP Eloho, a seasoned investigator with over 20 years of experience, has a background in Psychology and a master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy. He has extensive experience in investigating economic, financial, cybercrime, and other white-collar crimes.

DCP Eloho’s investigative journey began at the state level with the FCT Police Command, where he headed the Commissioner’s Monitoring Unit. He later worked at the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU) in Ikoyi, Lagos, and the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID). During his career, he has led various sensitive sections, including the Cybercrime Section, Assets Fraud Section, Bank Fraud Section, and the Anti-Money Laundering Section.

Presently, DCP Eloho heads the Counter Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), focusing on economic crimes with transnational links. He is also involved in developing intelligence on economic crimes committed against the country by oil companies, involving the alleged theft of crude oil worth billions of dollars.

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Concerning the ongoing investigations, it has been reported that office files and records at NIRSAL have been destroyed in an attempt to obstruct the inquiry. Among the missing documents is a contract for the development of the ICT Policy, despite financial records indicating multiple payments for the same contract. A source familiar with the investigation expressed concerns that unless the team finds a way to recover essential contract records and documents, they may face challenges in uncovering the full extent of the matter.

When contacted, the Head of Procurement at NIRSAL, Sheriff Salaudeen, denied that the organization destroys its files or records. However, he declined to provide further comments, stating that he would only respond to written requests directed to NIRSAL.

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