The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Sunday night in Abuja arrested erstwhile managing director of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (The Mint).
Head of Media and Publicity Unit, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, said Okoyomon who resigned recently over N2.1 billion unacounted for by The Mint under his leadership, was picked up over the missing money and the bribery scandal arising from the polymer notes contract awarded by a former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo in 2006.
Uwujaren said that Okoyomon is still being held at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja and he is undergoing interrogation. He hinted that the former MD may be arraigned with other suspects. “We’ve Mr Ehi Okoyomon in our custody,” Wilson revealed.
“He was arrested last night (Sunday) over his alleged involvement in the polymer notes’ scandal. As soon as we are done with the interrogation, he will be charged to court. As of now, we are just interrogating him and our investigation is still on-going.”
Wilson noted that although the involvement of Prof Soludo is not on the front burner, the case is still on-going. Recall that the EFCC had in January this year arrested Prof Soludo.
He was detained for several hours. The current travails of Soludo and others involved in the alleged scandal is sequel to a petition written by Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) last May, which called on the anti-graft agencies to investigate the alleged scam in the award of polymer bank notes printing contract.
According to the Chairman of HEDA, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, the petition had demanded the investigation and possible prosecution of serving and former government officials, particularly CBN staffers indicted in the scandal which resulted in the printing of polymer Naira notes during Soludo’s tenure between 2006 and 2008.
The petition had demanded both the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to pursue the investigation and possible prosecution.
The current Naira bills which were allegedly printed in Australia in alleged questionable deal, following which a local newspaper had reported that former workers at Securency, The Reserve Bank of Australia’s currency firm, had told the police that the company produced millions of partly-made Nigerian banknotes without authorisation from the Federal Government.
HEDA chairman said: “The petition reminded the anti corruption institutions of a publication of Sydney Herald that on September 29, 2009, a day before the launch of the N5, N10 and N15 polymer notes, Benoy Berry, one of the British businessmen sent a letter to Myles Curtis (then Managing Director of Securency International Pty Limited, an Australian company) alleging a breach of contract and accusing the banknote company of bribing top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria to secure the contract for Securency.
“He also accused Securency of breaching polymer-based mint planned to be established in Nigeria as part of principled objectives of transferring technology to developing nations.”
He had added that according the Australian Federal Police Authority sent a high level confidential security memo to the Presidency through the Office of the National Security Adviser detailing a bribery probe that centred on the series of multi million-dollar payments by Securency into offshore bank accounts of the two British-based businessmen for onward transfer to Nigerian Government Officials to secure the bank-note deal.
“Prominent amongst the names featured in the secret memo were that of the then CBN Governor, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, senior officials of the finance ministry and a former president,” the statement by HEDA had stated.