The Fidelity Bank Nigeria PLC has sacked its arrested Managing Director, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, who was last week detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alongside some officials of the bank for allegedly receiving $115m (N23bn) from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to prosecute the re-election of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He has been replaced with the Executive Director, North, Alhaji Mohammed Balarabe in acting capacity subject to regulatory approval, a statement by the bank said on Monday, Punch Newspaper reported
The bank, however, reassured the over 400,000 shareholders and 3.4 million customers of its continued seamless services.
The EFCC also arrested the bank’s Head of Operations, Mr. Martins Izuogbe, for his role in the alleged scam, which the anti-graft agency described as unprecedented.
Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, who was arrested with the head of operation of the bank, one Mr. Martins Izuogbe revealed that Dieszani's son, Ugonna Madueke was involved in the deal.
During the secret investigation of Diezani, the EFCC officials discovered that Diezani invited Okonkwo to help her handle some cash, which would be disbursed to electoral officials and groups during the build-up to the 2015 presidential election, Punch Newspaper reported
As reported by The Nation Newspaper, the alleged fraud was uncovered when the EFCC began investigations into how officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom states received N675.1m.
The detective said, “The MD of Fidelity Bank has been arrested and is currently in our custody. During investigations into the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners, we got a major breakthrough as funds disbursed were traced to Fidelity Bank.
“We invited the MD, who then confessed to us that during the build-up to the presidential election, Diezani invited him to a meeting in Abuja. Diezani told him that some companies would deposit some funds in his bank and that she would give him further instructions on how the funds would be disbursed.
Besides, four companies implicated in the bribe-for-results scandal during the 2015 general elections are under probe.
The companies are: Northern Belt Gas Company Limited; Auctus Integrated; Midwestern Oil and Gas; and Leno Laitan Adesanya.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Cross River State, Gesil Khan and four others are undergoing interrogation over the N681million the allegedly got from the bribe.
“The first company, Auctus Integrated, deposited $17,884,000 into the bank. The second company, Northern Belt Gas Company, deposited $60m while another company, Midwestern Oil and Gas, deposited $9.5m. A fourth company, Leno Laitan Adesanya, deposited $1.85m while the MD himself received $26m in cash.”
She allegedly got N185, 842,000 from the deal.
The other suspects and the alleged bribe against their names are Fidelia Omoile (Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State)—N112,480,000; Uluochi Obi Brown( INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State)—N111,500,000; a former Deputy Director of INEC in Cross River State, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC in Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo—N214,127,000.
During its preliminary investigations, the EFCC discovered that the N23.29billion was shared to INEC officials in all the 36 states, some individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations(NGOs), which deployed election monitors.
Arrested by the EFCC are Fidelity Bank Managing Director Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo and the bank’s Head of Operations, Mr. Martin Izuogbe.
The list of all beneficiaries, who received funds through Fidelity Bank branches nationwide, was being compiled last night.
A source in EFCC, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “We are looking at a case of conspiracy between Fidelity Bank and the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to bribe INEC officials to rig the 2015 presidential election nationwide.
“There was a time Diezani invited the MD of Fidelity Bank Nnamdi Okonkwo and told him that the owners of the four companies will come and drop some money and the MD should keep the money separately and await instructions on what to do.
“The companies gave these amounts to the MD of Fidelity Bank as follows: Northern Belt Gas Company Limited ($60m); Auctus Integrated ($17,884,000); Midwestern Oil and Gas ($9.5m); and Leno Laitan Adesanya ($1.85m).
“On her part, Diezani sent $25.77million(approximately $26m) to the MD with all the funds totaling $115million (N23, 299,705,000billion).
“A day or two before the presidential election, she gave a distribution list to the Fidelity Bank Plc MD and instructed that the $115million be changed into Naira and shared to INEC officials in the 36 states, some individuals and NGOs.
“The MD said there was no way the bank could meet up with the conversion of the $115million into Naira and distribute at the same time. Diezani pleaded with the MD to use the Naira in the bank’s vault. She said if the bank changed the dollars later, it could make Naira replacement. That was how the money was distributed to INEC officials in 36 states, some individuals and NGOs.
“The MD instructed the bank’s Head of Operations, Martin Izuogbe, to communicate with all Fidelity Bank branches to effect the distribution of the cash to alter the presidential election poll results.”
The source added: “We have arrested and detained the MD of Fidelity Bank since Monday. But we picked up the Head of Operations on Wednesday.
“They are undergoing intense grilling and we may not release them until we have completed investigations.
“About N681million out of the funds was disbursed to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Cross River State and four others.
“It is obvious that more Resident Electoral Commissioners and INEC officials will soon be invited for interrogation.”
On the manhunt for the son of the ex-Minister, the top source added: “Ugonna Madueke was at the meeting in her mother’s house when everything was perfected with the MD of the bank. He allegedly gave some instructions too.