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EFCC places travel ban on NTDC DG, others over alleged N270m scam

By The Citizen

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has barred the Director-General of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Sally Mbanefo, and some top officials of the Corporation from embarking on any foreign trip.

It was gathered that the ban would remain in place until the affected officials of the corporation have cleared themselves over allegations of fraud preferred against them.

The EFCC is probing allegations of fraud reportedly contained in a petition by concerned staff of NTDC on alleged out-of-budget expenditures.

About N270 million had allegedly been moved from NTDC accounts for the purpose.

The EFCC, which is investigating the fraud allegation involving several millions of naira and sundry ancillary criminal acts had reportedly arrested the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the NTDC, Dr. Segun Adesola, alongside top officials of the corporation last week Thursday before granting them administrative bail.

EFCC's spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement confirmed the arrest of Adesola. NTDC's information officer, Ms O. Grace, also confirmed Friday that EFCC officials came to effect the arrest of the corporation's CSO.

Meanwhile, Mbanefo who was also at the EFCC office for interrogation and some top officials of the corporation were scheduled to travel to the United Kingdom soon on an official assignment.

Already, some staff of the agency particularly the DG and Adesola had been given 'note verbale' by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to facilitate their visa application .

It was learnt that the proposed official trip to London by some of the suspects had been aborted as operatives of the agency were not comfortable with the idea of the suspects travelling out of the country for fear of not returning to prove their innocence.

Trouble started after the EFCC reportedly got the petition about the anomalies at the corporation.

The petition, it was learnt, informed the decision of the anti- graft agency to put the corporation under its searchlight and monitor those alleged to be involved in financial crimes in the corporation.

It was gathered that six EFCC officials had monitored the suspects from Monday till Thursday when the operatives made the surprise appearance.

Initially, some senior management staff of the corporation, particularly the Deputy Director, Finance, Chris Okafor, was shocked when the EFCC officials pounced on Dr. Adesola to effect his arrest.

It was also gathered that a search conducted in Adesola's Lugbe, Abuja residence further strengthened the EFCC's suspicion that he should be interrogated more on sundry crimes. For example, the EFCC team that went to search his house recovered some copies of NYSC discharge and exemption certificates and blank copies of University of Jos degree certificates.

This development, among others, informed the decision of the antigraft agency to commence a full-scale investigation into the financial activities of Ms Mbanefo since her assumption of office as DG few months ago.

It was gathered that apart from Dr. Adebayo, five other NTDC staff including its DG were granted administrative bail and told to report back unfailingly at the Wuse11 headquarters of the anti-graft agency.

Adesola's official car was also impounded. Although, Adesola was said to have written a statement on Thursday, Ms Mbanefo did not write one.

She is, however, expected to write a statement this week. – National Mirror.