The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has charged Gbenga Makanjuola, deputy chief of staff to Senate President Bukola Saraki, with an alleged diversion of N3.5bn of N19bn London-Paris Club refund to states.
According to NAN, the other accused are Robert Mbonu, former managing director of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN), Melrose General Services Limited and Obiora Amobi.
No date has been fixed for the trial of the suspects at a federal high court in Lagos.
Following protests by states over deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the release of N522.74 billion (first tranche) refund to them, pending reconciliation of records.
Each state was entitled to N14.5 billion or 25 per cent of the amount claimed.
The release of the cash was trailed by controversies, including alleged payment of N19 billion consultancy fees and $86million into the accounts of the Nigeria governors forum.
The EFCC in the last two years has been investigating the alleged diversion of the N19 billion under the guise of consultancy fees, including the N3.5billion, which was allegedly remitted to Melrose General Services Limited, allegedly with links to Mbonu.
About $183,000 of the N3.5billion was transferred to a Dubai jeweler patronised by some senators.
In the charges against the suspects, the EFCC said there was no service rendered to have warranted the payment of the N3.5billion.
“That you Robert Chidozie Mbonu, Melrose General Services Limited and other persons at large on or about the 14th day of December, 2016 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court conspired amongst yourselves to disguise the unlawful origin of the sum of N3.5billion paid into the account of Melrose General Services Limited and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 of the money laundering prohibition act, 2011 (as amended by act no. 1 of 2012) and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same act,” the charges read.
“That you Robert Chidozie Mbonu and Melrose General Services Limited having reason to know that N3.5billion directly represented the proceeds of your unlawful activity to wit: conspiracy and stealing: did convert the said funds which you received from the Nigeria governors forum under the false guise that you were entitled to payment of consultancy fees from money recovered for the states in relation to “over-deductions on Paris and London club loans on the account of the states and local government (1995-2002)” which service you did not render and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (b) of the money laundering prohibition act, 2011 (as amended by act no. 1 of 2012) and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same act.”