Jim Obazee, the Special Investigator appointed by President Bola Tinubu to probe the alleged illegal foreign exchange deals and money laundering by the Dangote Group, has been receiving fresh death threats from unknown sources, according to sources close to him.
The Dangote Group, owned by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, is accused of engaging in forex fraud and money laundering activities worth $3.4 billion in the last 10 years.
The probe was initiated by President Tinubu after he assumed office in 2023.
Sources say that Obazee and his family have been getting anonymous calls and messages warning them to stop the investigation or face dire consequences.
The callers also claim to have plans to bribe senior government officials and influential people to sabotage the probe and protect the Dangote Group.
Obazee, who is known for his integrity and professionalism, has refused to bow to the pressure and has continued to pursue the investigation with diligence and rigour.
He has also blocked all attempts by the suspects and their allies to reach him or compromise him.
However, some powerful elements in the Presidency, who have allegedly received huge sums of money from the Dangote Group and other entities under investigation by Obazee, have been trying to discredit him and his team before President Tinubu.
They have been spreading false rumours that Obazee has received N8 billion from the former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, who is also under probe for his role in the forex fraud scandal.
The sources say that these rumours are aimed at either forcing Obazee to drop the investigation or influencing President Tinubu to disband his team.
They say that the cabal and their cronies are afraid of being exposed by Obazee and his team for their involvement in corruption and malfeasance.
They intend to put this together and package same as a report they’ll send to President Tinubu with the ultimate aim of getting him to disband the Obazee-led investigating team.
All these are being done to ensure that the Special Investigator does not eventually submit his full reports, which President Tinubu promised during his maiden Independence Day broadcast on October 1, 2023.
Interestingly, the Special Investigator team’s work has been applauded by even the international community.
Sources had told First News that the humongous frauds allegedly perpetrated under the immediate past CBN governor, Emefiele, in many of these GBEs, which are now already being unearthed by the Obazee-led Committee would shock Nigerians to their bone marrows.
The Special Investigator has recently traced about N8trillion of the funds looted from the vaults of the CBN and the Government Business Entities (GBEs) to various bank accounts operated by some individuals and private business organisations.
According to impeccable sources, this and other revelations are contained in the preliminary report already submitted by the Special Investigator to President Tinubu.
About N400trillion looted from the CBN is expected to be recovered by the Obazee-led team of investigators.
However, the alleged illegal forex deals by the Dangote Group, it was gathered, was allegedly perpetrated by the company with
the active connivance of the Central Bank of Nigeria under sacked governor Godwin Emefiele and some major commercial banks in the country (names withheld).
CBN under Emefiele and the commercial banks, it was learnt, had been aiding the Dangote Group to repatriate proceeds from its illegal forex deals amounting to $3.4 billion out of te country to personal accounts abroad in the past 10 years.
The Special Investigator’s launch of the probe of the Dangote Group, on Sunday, followed a petition received by the panel from a concerned Nigerian and social justice advocate, Ahmed Fahad against the Dangote Group on how the Emefiele-led CBN and some commercial banks illegally transferred a whopping $3.4billion to the private company in the past 10 years.
Fahad, it was learnt, had actually petitioned President Tinubu in August 2023 against the Dangote Group over the illegal forex deals and money laundering, but the President was said to have direct his Special Investigator to look into the allegations against the private company.
The activist had in his petition to Tinubu, which he also copied the Special Investigator, accused the Dangote Group of “gross financial misconduct and illegality,” alleging that the flagrant abuse of the CBN forex guidelines by the private conglomerate had been going on in the past 10 years.
The petition partly reads, “This brazen illegality involves a shocking violation of CBN guidelines causing a USD3.4billion diversion from Nigeria’s national treasury at rates between 150 – 200 USD when the parallel exchange rate was more than double that. This insidious financial manoeuvering still threatens the very stability of our country’s economy even today.
“Astoundingly, this flagrant siphoning was carried out using Form A instead of the legal route through Form M, which is tantamount to a gross violation of the law as it offers no financial returns to our country.
“The barefaced audacity of these financial transgressors is further displayed by several implicated banks which have audaciously sanctioned millions of dollars at CBN rate to the Dangote Group in direct violation of CBN’s instructions to source funds from the parallel or interbank market.
“These unscrupulous actions facilitated the illegal transfer of funds for supposed foreign investments, including the supposed construction of factories in countries like Congo and Liberia.
“These funds were moved out of Nigeria with the alleged unlawful aim of industrial developments in other nations, while our own country was left bereft of these much-needed investments.
“More worryingly, there are several instances such as in Liberia, where promised factories were never built. The siphoned funds were, instead, reportedly transferred to Dangote’s accounts abroad, thereby exploiting Form A for illicit cash movements that cannot be reclaimed by our country.
“It must be highlighted that the approvals sought from the CBN clearly stated that money sought by Dangote must be bought from the interbank market – which means money outside the CBN.
“However, the funds were bought and transferred from the national treasury with the CBN, which was illegal. On a continued basis over the years and contrary to the approvals, Emefiele’s CBN continued illegally supplying money from Nigeria’s treasury at cheaper rates to Dangote Group (see some evidence attached). This is an illegality that must be righted.
“For instance, in 2015, Form A number AA2541751was used to transfer over 341million through telegraphic transfer (ECOBANK) in contravention of CBN directive to use interbank funds only for the Dangote project in Cameroon whilst on February 12,2016, Form A number AA2649626 was used to transfer over 420million for spare parts in Congo, also in contravention of the CBN directive.
“To further highlight the brazenness of these actions, it recently came to light that the suspended CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele had borrowed USD1billion from Afrexim Bank in the second quarter of 2023, USD750million of which was illegally funnelled to Dangote at a concessionary rate.
“These funds were subsequently transferred to Dangote’s accounts abroad just as previously done in the past.
“Your Excellency, as the beacon of hope for our nation’s financial integrity, your swift action is desperately needed to rectify these glaring injustices.
“We implore you to order a comprehensive and immediate investigation into these flagrant violations of our financial laws.
“We call upon you to ensure these stolen funds are returned and used for the betterment of our nation under your committed administration. This enforcement is essential not just to deter future violations but also to underscore the ethos of accountability and transparency that your administration represents.
“We enjoin you to direct the EFCC, ICPC, DSS and other relevant security agencies to investigate these illegal acts against our economy and ensure these funds are returned.
“The time for a new era has come – an era where the rule of law supercedes illicit privileges and economic justice becomes our national cornerstone.
“By addressing these issues decisively, you will send a powerful message that corruption in all its forms will no longer be tolerated in our country.”
Meanwhile, an anti-corruption group, Coalition for Transparency and Economic Reforms (COTER) has warned all those involved in the moves to blackmail and stop the Special Investigator from doing his job to desist immediately or face the wrath of Nigerians.
COTER also called on President Tinubu to fish out those bent on tarnishing his image and that of the Nigerian nation.
It also appealed to President Tinubu to give the Obazee-led team all the necessary support to enable it to succeed in its assigned task.
COTER President, Dr Peter Chima Chukwu, wondered why some corrupt Nigerians should be hell-bent on stopping the good job being done by
the Special Investigator and members of his team in stopping this socio-economic vice and other financial malfeasance in the country.
He, therefore, urged the Special Investigator and his team not to cave in to blackmail from any quarter, no matter how highly placed.