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Police, EFCC and a citizen’s dilemma

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By Gbade Ogunwale

I filed a petition with the Federal Capital Territory Police Command seeking redress for an injustice I suffered. The petition, dated March 23, 2021, detailed a case of unlawful confiscation of my properties and a criminal breach of trust.
The suspect had deceptively confiscated my Honda Accord car, a brand new Dell laptop and a colour HP Printer.
But weeks after the petition was submitted, there was no word from the Police. Worried by the deafening silence, I contacted the Commissioner of Police at the time to inquire why the petition was not acted on. But the CP said the issues raised in my petition were not within the purview of the Police.
According to him, they were within the mandate of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Consequently, he advised that I file the petition with the EFCC. Following his advice, I filed a fresh petition dated April 19, 2021, and addressed it to the Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa. It was officially received and acknowledged.
It is pertinent to state that in my separate petitions to the Police and EFCC, I supplied the suspect’s mobile telephone contacts alongside mine, to ease the investigation. But several months after, there was no word from the EFCC either.
A few days after I filed the petition, I got hints that the suspect had been arrested by EFCC operatives. I waited in vain for the anti-graft agency to contact me to enable me state my case against the suspect. I then filed a reminder, dated July 7, 2021, to the EFCC, stating among others, that I was aware of the suspect’s arrest and wondered why I was not invited to state my case against him.
I got no reply. I was forced to call the attention of the EFCC Chair Bawa to the matter. I forwarded the cover pages of my original petition and the subsequent reminder to Mr Bawa through WhatsApp. Almost immediately, the EFCC chair responded through a WhatsApp call, saying that neither the original petition nor the reminder was brought to his attention.
Mr Bawa said he was in Europe for some official engagements at the time but he promised to make his findings right away and get across to me through his men on the ground.
Less than two hours later, I received a telephone call from a Special Assistant to the Chairman, Ngunan Kakwagh. The aide told me that the EFCC had indeed prepared a written reply to my petition and the subsequent reminder but that the agency could not locate the address for onward delivery to me. I had to be physically present at the agency’s head office the very next day where I was handed the letter.
The letter, dated September 3, 2021, reads: “We refer to your letter dated 19th April 2021 and reminder dated 7th July 2021 addressed to the Executive Chairman of the Commission on the above subject matter. We have reviewed your petition and found that it does not fall within the Commission’s mandate.
“Consequently, your petition was referred to the Inspector General of Police vide letter ref. no. EFCC/EC/IGP/09/534 dated 11th May 2021 for investigation. Please accept the assurances of the Executive Chairman’s highest regards and respect.” Kakwagh signed the letter on behalf of the EFCC Chairman.
The letter was silent on the issue of the arrest of the suspect, which I raised in the reminder petition. I demanded to know why the suspect was arrested without me being contacted. The aide admitted that the suspect was indeed arrested then. But the aide said he was arrested based on a separate petition filed against him by a different complainant. A coincidence? But does that not say enough about the suspect acting true to character?
In that letter, the EFCC claimed to have referred my petition to the IGP vide a letter dated May 11, 2021. But it took the personal intervention of the EFCC chair for me to get it on September 3, 2021, which is four months after. The wording of the letter gave the impression that it was written after a review of my original petition of April 19 and the subsequent reminder of July 7. If this was the case, then EFCC’s referral letter of May 11 is deemed to have preceded the review of the reminder of July 7 by 51 days.
I filed the petition with the office address of the Abuja Bureau of The Nation Newspapers for easy accessibility. But the EFCC claimed they could not trace the address, so the letter was kept in their files for four months. However, at the intervention of the Chairman, they found the telephone number with which they contacted me.
I proceeded to the office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to trace the said referral letter from EFCC. There was no trace of the letter there. A concerned police officer at the Force Headquarters advised I file a fresh petition with the FCT Police Command.
I was emotionally drained at this point so I had to take a break to reflect and to allow me to gain some inner strength.
I resumed the pursuit about a year later with a fresh petition dated September 13, 2022, addressed to the FCT Commissioner of Police. There, I met a new CP who, without much ado, received the petition by himself. After reading through it, directed that it be sent to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for investigation.
After days of surveillance, the suspect was brought in for interrogation. He admitted being in possession of my car, laptop and printer but he said he was not prepared to return them to me.
After days of running back and forth, the police ordered him to return the three items in his possession to me. On his own terms, he asked to be given three weeks to replace the laptop and the printer. He set a four-month timeline to either return the car or pay a mutually agreeable value for it.
But that was just one leg of the two-pronged petition. The other leg, which is much more high-ended, bordered on criminal breach of trust. Investigation into that aspect, which is considered to be within the mandate of the EFCC, is now being kept in abeyance at the CID.
After much dithering, the suspect replaced the brand-new laptop with an unserviceable one that looked like something he picked from a junkyard.
Also, he procured a badly refurbished printer as a replacement for the new one he collected from me. I promptly indicated my rejection of the unserviceable laptop. The two items have been gathering dust at the CID office since then.
The four-month timeline he set himself to replace or pay for the car expired on January 31, 2023. But he asked for a further extension of time till February 28, 2023. It was granted but he still defaulted. Apparently, as a decoy, he obtained my bank account details through the Police to enable him to transfer the agreed sum to me. He never did.
I called the investigating CID officer on March 14 to report that the suspect had yet to pay up. The officer replied that the suspect had been ignoring his telephone calls and text messages. And as you are reading this piece, the suspect is still being evasive while police investigators appear helpless. That’s where we are now.
I must state here that the investigation process at the CID has not only been frustrating but also distressing. As the complainant, I had to, on two occasions, wait with the investigators for the suspect to arrive for scheduled appointments.
On one occasion, I had to leave after waiting for an hour without the suspect showing up. At every turn, they made it look like I was begging for some underserved favour. That has been the attitude and body language of the suspect, and even the investigating police officers.
In the course of arresting and investigating the suspect, I was made to part with N50,000 for “logistics”. I was also made to pay an additional N100,000 for the “processing of documents”. That’s besides other incidental expenses I incurred along the line. A case of double jeopardy?
Worried by the frustrating turn of events, I approached a certain EFCC officer who I fortuitously ran into at a recent public event. I narrated my experiences to him following which he requested to see a copy of my petition. I gave him a copy a few days later and I waited for his opinion.
After going through the contents, he opined that I ought to have filed the petition with the EFCC instead of the Police. He was categorical that it’s purely a matter for the EFCC – that is the aspect bordering on criminal breach of trust.
According to him, it shouldn’t take the EFCC much time to crack the case and resolve it decisively. He was momentarily flustered when I handed him a copy of the EFCC letter that referred the petition to the Police. Reading through the letter, he paused for a moment, reflected briefly, and with measured subtlety, said: “Something must have gone wrong somewhere.”
There and then, he advised I withdraw the petition from the Police and file a fresh one with the EFCC. It’s quite distressing that a petition that originated in 2021 is being tossed back and forth, first from the Police to EFCC, then back to the Police. Now, I am being advised to withdraw the petition from the Police and file it afresh with the EFCC. Again?
The question is: will the EFCC take a second look at the petition if it is withdrawn from the Police? What if the agency decides to, once again, send it back to the Police as it did in the first place? Will it not be back to ground zero? It has been an unending circle of motion without movement from 2021 to date. The law, truly, is a dumb ass that even the crooked can ride. So where do I go from here?

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Ogunwale works with The Nation newspaper.

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Rebranding, customer-centric policy, paying off – Berger Paints MD

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The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Berger Paints Nigeria Plc, Mrs. Alaba Fagun, has ascribed the outstanding performance of the company for the financial year ended December 31, 2023, to the market appreciation of its rebranding, customer-centric policy, deployment of modern technology to ensure quality products and availability of strong human capital.

Despite the inclement operating environment, Berger Paints, a leading manufacturer of coated paints and allied products in Nigeria, has proposed a dividend of N231. 9 million for the 2023 financial year up from N202.9 million paid in 2022 and would be paying a dividend of N.80 kobo per share for its shareholders, subject to the ratification at its 64th Annual General Meeting (AGM), scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, in Lagos.

The dividend will bring the final dividend for the review period to N1 per share. At the AGM, the company shall seek ratification of payment of an interim dividend of 20 kobo per share, which amounts to N58.0 million.

Other performance indicators of Berger Paints include its profit for the financial year, which grew to N468,797 from N208,670 in 2022, and basic earnings per share, which jumped from 72 kobo to 162 kobo, an increase of 125 percent respectively.

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“Despite the myriad challenges in our operating environment, impacting both our business operations and the daily lives of our customers and team members, we achieved a remarkable 125% growth in our bottom-line figure compared to 2022.

A review of the company’s other performance indicators shows that its revenue hit N7.91 billion, an increase of 25 %, Year-on-Year, Operating Profit, N730.18, an increase of 84 %, and total assets, N6.61 billion, an increase of 20 % amongst others

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According to the Managing Director, the year 2023 underscored the enduring Nigerian love for vibrant experiences and Berger Paints rose to the occasion by exceeding customers’ expectations in the quality of products and service delivery. “With Berger Paints, you can never go wrong. Our commitment to customer satisfaction has been the bedrock of our success since 1959’, she added.

‘Throughout the year, we revitalized our corporate ethos by reshaping our brand. More than just a logo, our brand embodies a commitment to quality assurance and customer-centric values: Professionalism, Integrity, Innovation, customer focus, and Teamwork which helped us to achieve a strong position in the market’ the MD stated.

‘’Looking forward, we aspire to conquer the African market landscape with our products and services. Our dedicated team is poised to leverage resources efficiently, and innovate to deliver exceptional service to our customers,” explained Fagun.

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In March last year, Berger Paints took the Nigerian manufacturing sector and the financial market by storm, when it unveiled its new brand identity. The rebranding was prompted by the need to capture the younger demography especially those aged 25-45 to ensure business continuity and success.

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BREAKING: Why Ihedioha quit PDP *Weighs next political option

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Emeka Ihedioha, Governor of Imo State from May 29, 2015 to January 14, 2020, has finally ditched the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the platform under which he became Deputy Speaker for eight years before he ran for the number one job in his state – one of the major outcomes of the current crisis in the nation’s main opposition party.

Ihedioha, announced his resignation in a letter to the ward Chairman in Mbutu, Aboh-Mbaise Local Government Area of the state, on Tuesday, five days after the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, citing his unhappiness with the way its affairs were being handled, which he could no longer live with.

An acolyte of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and two-time presidential candidate of the party in 2019 and 2023, it is believed that the position of former Deputy Speaker had to do with the inability of the PDP NEC, the second highest organ to deal decisively with the issues that have been beleaguering its leadership since the 2023 elections, in which it was split down the middle.

One of the issues was the failure of the party to take action against some renegades, who worked against Atiku in the last election, particularly the G-5, a group of five governors on the platform of the party before the election, led by Nyesom Wike, former Governor of Rivers State, now Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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The group, which also included Samuel Ortom of Benue, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, whose tenures ended in 2023 and Seyin Makinde of Oyo, currently in his second and final term, had stood staunchly against Atiku on the ground that he did not support the removal of Iyorchia Ayu, as National Chairman of the party, since both of them came from the North.

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Against the backdrop that Wike and his group would be sanctioned with possible suspension or outright expulsion from the party, the NEC took a middle ground in what was not only seen as a slap in the wrist, but a victory for Wike against the Atiku camp, which had favoured full sanctions.

It is believed that this was what Ihedioha, was referring to when he lamented in his letter dated April 23, and delivered to the PDP headquarters on Tuesday, where he pointed out that he has no doubt whatsoever that his decision to quit was the right course of action, given that the party had deviated from its original character.

He wrote: “Since 1998, I have contributed my quota to the development and transformation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as one of the founding members. All these years, I have taken pride in the fact that the PDP is a party that will always look inward for internal reforms and provide credible leadership for the people, whether in power or outside power.

“I have had the benefit of serving and benefitting from the party at various levels. Regrettably, in recent times, the party has taken on a path that is at variance with my personal beliefs. Despite my attempt to offer counsel, the party is, sadly no longer able to carry out internal reforms, enforce its own rules or offer credible opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress.

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“It is in the light of the foregoing, that I am compelled to offer my resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party effective immediately. While this decision was difficult to take, I, however, believe that it is the right one. Despite this resignation, I will always be available to offer my services towards the deepening of democracy and good governance in Nigeria.”

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It is however not certain where the former governor is headed, as one source is saying that he could be heading to the All Progressives Congress (APC), having helped Hope Uzodimma, the incumbent governor, who incidentally ousted him through the Supreme Court, in 2020 win his second term elections on the promise of a payback in 2027.

However, another source told Whirlwindnews.com.ng that the former Deputy Speaker, considered the ruling party too dirty and a no-go area to achieve his ambition, preferring the more popular Labour Party (LP) as the next destination.

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BREAKING: MAN celebrates, as Dangote crashes diesel price again

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Less than one week after Dangote Petroleum Refinery announced the reduction in the price of Automative Gas Oil (AGO), otherwise known as diesel from N1,200 to N1,000, the company, the first privately owned refinery in the country and one of the largest in the world, on Tuesday, moved further with another price crash this time with a reduction of N60, to bring the price per litre to N940.

It was also a day the company announced the decrease in the price of Aviation Turbine Kerosine (ATK), otherwise known as aviation fuel to N980 per litre, a move expected to further reduce the cost of air transportation, which has hit the roof and is now beyond the pockets of average Nigerians.

The price change of N940 is applicable to customers buying five million litres and above from the refinery, while the price of N970 is for customers buying one million litres and above, Anthony Chiejina, Head of Communication of Dangote Group, explained on Tuesday, saying the new price is in consonance with the company’s commitment to cushion the effect of economic hardship in Nigeria.

“I can confirm to you that Dangote Petroleum Refinery has entered a strategic partnership with MRS Oil and Gas stations, to ensure that consumers get to buy fuel at affordable price, in all their stations be it Lagos or Maiduguri. You can buy as low as 1 litre of diesel at N1,050 and aviation fuel at N980 at all major airports where MRS operates.”

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Informing that the partnership would be extended to other major oil marketers, he added: “The essence of this is to ensure that retail buyers do not buy at exorbitant prices. The Dangote Group is committed to ensuring that Nigerians have a better welfare and as such, we are happy to announce this new prices and hope that it would go a long way to cushion the effect of economic challenges in the country.”

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On April 5, the management of the company had announced reduction of the price of diesel from 1200 to 1,000 Naira per litre, the second time after initial reduction from the N1,700, the price stood at when the company commenced operation early in the year.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu had also commended Aliko Dangote, President of conglomerate for the initial price reduction, describing it as an “enterprising feat.”

Reacting to the latest development, The Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Ajayi Kadiri, said: “The decision of Dangote Refinery to first crash the price from about N1,750/litre to N1,200/litre, N1,000/litre and now N940 is an eloquent demonstration of the capacity of local industries to positively impact the fortunes of the national economy.

“The trickledown effect of this singular intervention promises to change the dynamics in the energy cost equation of the country, in the midst of inadequate and rising cost of electricity. The reduction will have far-reaching effects in critical sectors like industrial operations, transportation, logistics, and agriculture, contributing to easing the high inflation rate in the country; a lot of companies will be back in operation.”

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