Following the recent launch of a probe into illegal foreign exchange deals and money laundering running to a whopping $3.4billion allegedly perpetrated by a major player in Nigeria’s private sector under the Godwin Emeifele-led Central Bank of Nigeria over the past 10 years, President Bola Tinubu-appointed Special Investigator, Jim Obazee, has been receiving fresh death threats from anonymous callers, it has been learnt.
A pro-transparency group, Coalition for Transperency and Economic Reforms (COTER) raised the alarm in a statement signed by its President, Dr. Peter Chima, on Thursday.
He explained that credible information available to COTER revealed that Obazee and members of his household have since his appointment been getting death threats from some faceless vested interests, including some members of the powerful Aso Rock cabal.
But the threat to his life, family and committee members was intensified in the last few days that the investigation into latest petition against a major private sector player in the Nigerian economy began in earnest.
The death threats, according to the group had been coming through direct calls to their phones and SMS messages.
The group added that the anonymous callers, “we were informed have been demanding that Obazee and members of his team turn their searchlight away from the allegations against the private conglomerate and other high profile cases.
“We further learnt that Obazee, members of his investigating committee and even family members have in the past few days continued to receive fresh death threats from these anonymous callers, asking them to immediately stop the ongoing probe by the Obazee-led panel or risk losing their lives and those of their loved ones.
“They were also said to have boasted about plans to handsomely induce Presidency and other senior Federal Government officials to influence the stoppage of the ongoing investigations by Obazee and his team.
“The cabal, prominent Nigerians, business moguls and some top aides of the President, it was learnt, have since Obazee’s appointment been making efforts to either blackmail him or induce him to compromise his investigations of some high profile cases. But the Special Investigator, it was learnt, has continued to resist them by blocking all avenues through which they can reach him.
Obazee’s ‘obstinacy and stubbornness’ have been creating fears in the minds of top officials of some Federal Government agencies and those of several other GBEs, as well as some highly placed Nigerians on the ongoing probe of the apex bank and the GBEs. They are said to have been reaching out to powerful politicians in the Presidency to save them and their organisations from being exposed by the Special Investigator.
“But having failed in their bid to intimidate and blackmail Obazee to submission, it was gathered that some of the officials, who had allegedly collected huge sums of money from some of those being investigated by Obazee with the promise to ensure the Special Investigator is stopped from further probing them, have lately been cooking up a narrative to discredit Obazee before President Tinubu.
“The cabal recently deliberately started to spread a rumour that that Obazee had got N8billion largesse from the embattled ex-CBN Governor, Emefiele, through a serving Senator From one of the South-East states.
“This rumour, we learnt, is aimed at threatening the Special Investigator to back down on the high profile cases of corruption he’s currently handling or giving those they had collected bribes from a clean bill of health to eventually get them off the hook.
“But since the Special Investigator is not yielding to their pressures and demands, while it has also become practically impossible for them to refund the money collected as bribes, the cabal and other powerful persons have resorted to bringing down Obazee and members of his team at all cost and influence the President to disband the committee in order to cover up their misdeeds.
“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.”
The statement said 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 revealed 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 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 the private sector 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 Group to repatriate proceeds from its illegal forex deals amounting to $3.4 billion out of the country to personal accounts abroad in the past 10 years.
“The Special Investigator’s launch of the probe of the Group, on Sunday, followed a petition received by the panel from a concerned Nigerian and social justice advocate, Ahmed Fahad against the 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.”
COTER President, Dr Peter Chima Chukwu, therefore, urged the Special Investigator and his team not to cave in to blackmail from any quarter, no matter how highly placed.
Chukwu further urged the Special Investigator to forge ahead as his name and integrity are at stake.
“Nigerians and the entire world are watching as the Committee is being considered as one of the positive decisions the President has taken so far. And this has greatly improved the image of the country and government,” he said.