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REA Fraud: ICPC Commences Investigation, Invites Bankole's Aides

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ABUJA, August 19, (THEWILL) - As the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) commences investigation into the alleged N6.5 billion fraud at the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), an aide to Speaker Dimeji Bankole has alleged that he was given money to implicate his principal.

Bankole’s Special Adviser on Communication, Chief Kayode Odunaro had in a petition to the ICPC dated Friday 24 July 2009 alleged that he was invited to be part of a plot to pay money into bank accounts belonging to some companies used in the N6.5billion REA scandal.

Odunaro confirmed today that he had honoured an invitation from the ICPC to come and clarify some of the allegations contained in his petition.

"Yes, it is true that I was invited by the ICPC, but it was in connection with the petition I sent to the commission last year, this is all I can say because investigation on the matter is on," he said when THEWILL contacted him over his mission to the ICPC.

The Special Adviser alleged in the petition that he was invited to a member’s office where he was handed photocopies of cheques raised in the name of five companies in the presence of officials of the bank.

The petition reads in part: "I was told that three companies belong to family members of Mr. Speaker and my role was to persuade them to allow their accounts to be used as aforesaid. This would necessitate the companies agreeing to sign an agreement claiming they got contracts from REA and are subletting it.

"The photocopy of the Cheques I was given was written in the names of Zobral Global Services Ltd, Vulysteke Mettalic Construction Ltd, Parthenon Acropolis Ltd, F-Plus Concept Ltd and Complete Trade Ltd.

Odunaro said that he observed that the cheques were all drawn after anti-graft agencies had launched a full probe into allegations of fraud in contracts awarded by the REA.

He added that all the five cheques carried same amount of N17, 157, 977.14, "which made me to be suspicious".

Resident Media Consultant to the ICPC, Folu Olamiti confirmed to THEWILL, the invitation of two aides of the Speaker by the investigating team handling the REA contract probe.