Saturday, 20 June 2015

Businessman: EFCC detained, tortured me for 80 days

A businessman/politician and environmentalist, Alhaji Suleiman Yerima narrates how he was detained and tortured for 80 days by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) while he was incarcerated by them.

In a petition addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, Yerima detailed the inhuman treatment he got in the hands of the EFCC operatives and how he and his friend, Mr. Uwem Antia were battered in a torture cell operated by the EFCC in Lagos in collaboration with the police. He said he survived the ordeal only by the grace of God.

He said his ordeal bagan on March 3 while he was out of Lagos on a business trip. He said EFCC operatives called him and invited him and his friend, Antia, who he claimed is currently in a critical condition as a result of the injuries he sustained during the series of torture they received while in the custody of EFCC operatives.

He said:
“I honoured the invitation by going to EFCC with Mr. Antia in company with my lawyers. On arrival, I was shown the petition. In the petition, the petitioner alleged that he gave me N120 million to source for dollars for him and that I have not given him the dollars,” Yerima explained.
He said he told the operatives that he had made the payments and had documented evidence to prove it. He said despite his attempt to explain and show evidence of transactions, he was detained along with Mr. Antia.
“While in detention, we were denied bail by Iliyasu Kwarbai, the Director of Operations of EFCC in Lagos. EFCC hurriedly rushed to a magistrate court in Lagos on March 12 and obtained a detention warrant for 30 days. This was nine days after our initial detention without any charges filed against us. Later, Mr. Antia was handcuffed and taken to their torture chambers. Antia later told me they blindfolded him and hung him from 11pm till the early hours of the morning.
“My life is in danger and these people are out to kill me. I want the whole world to know that. The president should set up a panel of enquiry and if I am found guilty, I am ready to go to jail. But this injustice must stop. EFCC officials are busy making money for themselves. They are more corrupt than the corrupt politicians. They are rotten. They give you bail conditions you cannot meet and then ask you to negotiate,” he alleged.
However, the EFCC, denied Yerima’s claims. The spokesman of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren said the claims were unfounded and should therefore be disregarded by the public.

He said:
“Alhaji Suleiman Yerima and Mr. Uwen Antia were on March 6, 2015 arrested by operatives of the EFCC for allegedly stealing the sum of $2,250,000 (two million, two hundred and fifty thousand US dollars) from two bankers. Their arrest followed a petition by Aginwa Gladys and Ale Dennis on February 17, 2015
The suspects allegedly approached the bankers: Gladys Aginwa and Ale Dennis in February, 2015, offering to sell foreign exchange to the tune of $10,000,000 USD to them.
“After agreeing on the exchange rate, a sum of N672, 750, 000 was transferred from BlueBeam Capital Investment Limited and Capital Field Investment and Trust Limited into the account of one of the bankers: Smiles and Light Limited. It was from the banker’s account that the entire sum was moved into Antia’s account: Kafisto Oil and Gas Limited.
“Findings showed that the entire sum of N672, 750,000 actually hit Antia’s account. A Bureau de Change operator who changed the money into its dollar equivalent, told EFCC’s investigators that he went with Antia to his bank along Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, where the transaction was confirmed. The Bureau de Change operator further said that, Antia subsequently transferred the sum of N666, 250,000 into his own account. He said he worked out the dollar equivalent of the money, which was $3,127,000 (three million, one hundred and twenty-seven thousand dollars). He said he could only give $3,124,000 to Antia, leaving a balance of $3,000 which he promised to give him the next day.
“Immediately Antia collected the foreign exchange, he reportedly headed for No. 17A, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, where the two bankers and his accomplice, Suleiman were waiting for him. However, rather than hand over the entire foreign exchange to the bankers, he only gave them $1,000,000 (one million dollars), claiming that he could not source the entire amount. He allegedly promised to give them a balance of $2,250,000 (two million, two hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars) the next day. This balance would be the dollar equivalent of the entire sum of the transaction (N672, 750,000).
“The bankers said that since the day Antia and Suleiman gave them the initial $1,000,000, all efforts to reach them had proved abortive. ‘Their cell phones were turned off,’ they said. However, they lodged a complaint with the EFCC and operatives of the commission eventually arrested the two fraudsters.”