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Access Bank Plc. embroiled in Heist Scandal

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A staff of Access Bank Plc., whose name got as Mr. Nnaemeka Onyegbule has been undergoing torture and enhanced interrogation at the Special Criminal Investigation Department at Panti Police Station, Lagos State in connection

with an alleged theft of $200.000 that disappeared aboard an Arik Air flight from Abuja to Lagos. The bank accused Mr. Onyegbule of stealing $200.000 from the one million dollar cash bullion which he was transporting from Abuja to Lagos on July 17, 2012.

Neither the police nor Access bank has come forward to explain why Access bank was transferring the money as private luggage of a bank staff. Rather, the Deputy External Communication Manager of Access Bank Mr. Segun Fafora has declined to answer reporters' questions, claiming the matter was under investigation. The talking drums have thus been rumbling with speculations as to the motives for Access Bank transferring such huge amounts of cash, without due diligence and due process.

Already, the sordid affair has claimed one casualty. On Sunday, July 22, 2012, the elder brother of the suspect, Mr. Okwudili Onyegbule, a resident of Lagos, reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest and died after visiting his junior brother in police custody. The elder Onyegbule, said to be hypertensive, was said to have been shocked at the bloodied and manacled state of his junior brother that he almost passed out. During the short drive from Yaba to Surulere, he suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the Yaba Military Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. He was buried over the weekend in their hometown of Mbaise in Imo State. gathered that the queer practice of transporting huge chunks of cash without public disclosure or security clearance has been going on under the watch of Access bank MD/CEO Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede the controversial chairman of the Presidential committee on the re-investigation of the subsidy fraud. Aig-Imoukhuede is believed to have presided over a huge money-laundering scheme involving the illegal transfer of funds running into millions of foreign exchange using Access bank staffs who are instructed not to declare the monies at the airport.

The circumstances under which the $200.000 dollars disappeared aboard the Arik Air flight remain unclear. But suffice to say that Mr. Nnaemeka Onyegbule has admitted to withdrawing $1 million from the vault, which he had instructions to transport to Lagos. He reportedly packed the money into a bag, put a lock on it and boarded an Arik Air Flight W3802 from the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport bound for Lagos. He boarded the flight without declaring to the relevant airport authority or security that he had cash; as is often the case with previous transactions involving huge amounts of cash; ranging from $2m to $5m.

Lagos police investigators are trying to decipher whether the money was stolen mid-air as the suspect alleges, or whether he is just making up the story, in the mistaken belief that the bank would not raise any alarm since the illegal practice will raise red flags on Access bank's illegal activities that even flaunt CBN rules and regulations for a cashless economy. The bag in question was locked, making the possibility of some third party tempering in mid-air even more remote as the bag was put in the luggage compartment above the suspect's seat.

Observers have been wondering why Access bank has not filed formal charges against the suspect, whom they prefer to transfer to the police, ostensibly to torture him into accepting that he stole the money. The police too have been taken to task for failure to apply the rule of law and protect the suspect's fundamental human rights. That the police have not bothered to charge the suspect in court over a week after the incident is an abuse of due process.