In a letter, dated November 15 and received by the office of the Finance Minister same day, the petitioners, through their lawyers, Hammart and Co (Tafida Chambers), drew the attention of the Finance Minister to an earlier petition written to the AGF since September for which no action was taken and that the silence of these top government officials run counter to the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s stance on corruption in all its ramifications.
In the letter, the whistle-blowers requested the Finance Minister to put on hold the earlier plan to pay the wrong whistle-blowers until their complaints have been thoroughly investigated and justice done.
“It is, therefore, the brief of our clients that we request you to hold on payment of the whistle-blowers’ fee/entitlement until our clients’ complaints are sorted out. That considering the vital role our client played in exposing the whereabouts of the recovered money, our client cannot be sidelined or denied his entitlement, doing so will amount to injustice to our client.”
In a petition dated August 24, addressed to the AGF and received on September 8, solicitors to the claimants, No Limit Legal Partners, on behalf of Abdulmumin Musa, Mr Stephen Sunday and Mr Bala Usman, told the AGF that his clients by the workings of the EFCC had shortchanged the whistle-blowers by bringing others who were not the arrowhead of the whistle-blowing.
The solicitors noted that “Our clients informed us sometime in December 2016 that three of them voluntarily walked into the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) at 15A Awolowo Road Ikoyi, Lagos and gave vital information that led to the recovery of over N13 billion at the Ikoyi Towers, Lagos.”
The Legal Practitioners further told the AGF 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, five per cent 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 which the three mentioned above accepted because they were sure of their facts.”
The petition continued: “That when the operation was carried out, it was successful, but since then, they have not received any commendation by the commission, let alone give any reward as stated even though the EFCC had their names and phone numbers.”
The petitioners said rather than to do the needful, some of the EFCC staff members gave them further information that they were not the only people who gave them information on the Ikoyi Tower as others were also involved without mentioning them.
It further learnt that upon various meetings by the three persons, they agreed to go back and meet the head of EFCC operations, Alhaji Samaila Muhammed, and were told on their visit that the numbers had increased to nine who made the report urging them to bring the remaining persons.
When contacted on the matter, the Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance on Media and Communications, Mr Yinka Akintunde, said such issues be referred to EFCC and not the responsibility of the ministry.
He added that the ministry would come in when the rightful persons were duly recognised by the relevant authorities for payment after due process.
When contacted, the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr Wilsom Uwujaren, to explain the role of the commission on the matter, he said several persons had in the past besieged the commission to say that they were part of whistle-blowing.
He confirmed that the commission had records of the original whistle-blowers of the Ikoyi Towers, stressing that all would be done to make sure the right persons were paid accordingly.