THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday seized the international passport of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), Mr. Joe Agi, who is being investigated for allegedly paying $30,000 into a domiciliary account of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen. The passport seizure is aimed at ensuring that he does not leave the country until the conclusion of his case.
Although Agi was granted bail yesterday by the EFCC, he has another date with the agency on Monday for further interrogation, The Nation gathered. Yesterday, detectives continued their scrutiny of the lawyer’s bank accounts and some documents retrieved from his residence when a search warrant was executed.
The EFCC is also on the trail of a vital suspect said to have questions to answer in respect of the payments into Onnoghen’s accounts. The suspect’s name is being kept secret for security reasons. A reliable source who confirmed Agi’s passport seizure said: “one of the conditions for admitting Agi to bail was the depositing of his international passport in order to restrict him from leaving the country.
“We have directed him to report to the EFCC intermittently, as may be scheduled, from Monday for more interrogation.
“Although Agi has made a useful statement, our detectives are currently screening his accounts following fresh clues with regards to his relationship with the CJN. “We have demanded for comprehensive details of Agi’s accounts and transactions which might take time to analyze or clarify with the suspect.
“The SAN has told our detectives that the CJN is his brother having come from Cross River State together.” For much of yesterday, detectives analyzed the documents retrieved from Agi’s Abuja residence. The source added: “We have isolated some issues for Agi to respond to when he comes around for another grilling. We are sieving some documents on which he ought to shed more light.”
Sources also said the EFCC team was on the trail of another suspect linked with the deposit. “We are hopeful that we will be able to locate and interact with this suspect in the next few days, “ the source said. Apart from the $30000 payment, detectives also said the SAN was Onnoghen’s referee when the suspended CJN was in the process of opening one of the domiciliary accounts traced to him.
Agi is the first suspect linked with some suspicious lodgments in Onnoghen’s accounts, which were effected between 2012 and 2016. The lodgments, amounting to $3million in five accounts, were undeclared in the Assets Declaration Form of Onnoghen.
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit(NFIU) was mandated to restrict the operation of the five accounts Standard Chartered Bank coded as USD No. 870001062650; Euro account No. 93001062686; Pound Sterling A/CNo. 285001062679; e-Saver Savings (Naira) account No. 5001062693; and a Naira A/C No. 0001062667. An intelligence report on the CJN’s accounts reads in part: “Pattern of structured payments of $10,000.00 each in 2012.
For example, a total of $630,000.00 was credited to the accounts using this pattern. “Similarly structured payments of $10,000.00 amounting to $297,800.00, $50,000.00 and $36,000.00 were deposited in the account in 2013, 2015 and 2016 respectively.
“There was also a credit of $121,116.00 into the account from 2014 to 2016 from Life Friend Plc. The payments were in four installments, of $30,279.00 each. These payments suggest the suspect has investments “A payment at $482,966.00 from Alicia Redemption Pro and shortly after, $800,000.00 was invested in SCB Investment subscription. We are in the process of verifying these transactions; “Other suspicious transactions in the account are credit of $19,764.00 from Pur of Noble and seven payments of $3,250.00 each amounting to $22,750.00 from Lloyds TSB. On the pound sterling (GBP), the investigative team discovered “a self-transfer of £40,268.40 into the account on May 31 2016.”
“There were also self-deposits by the suspect of £49,760.00 from July 2015 to September, 2016 but the balance as at September 30, 2016 was £108,348.00,” the report added. Regarding the Naira account, the report said: “The following highlights some of the suspicious activities in the account: A transfer of N41,262.000.00 ($260,000) was made from the Dollar account.
The money was used to make payment of N41million to the Ad hoc Committee on the Sale of Federal Government Houses, suggesting that he bought a property with proceeds of the transfer; “The only other significant transactions in the accounts are six structured cash payments of N500,000.00 each and one payment of N700,000.00 amounting to N3.7million from November, 2013 to August, 2016.”