37 Bank Accounts Allegedly Linked To REA MD’s BVN

A journalists’ body, the Coalition of West African Investigative Journalists (COWAfIJ), has called for investigation into allegation that the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad used multiple identities and falsified documents in operating 37 bank accounts.

COWAFIJ made this call on Saturday at a press conference it held at International Press Centre, Lagos where it urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to order probe into the matter.

Speaking, its General-Secretary, Comrade Gboyega Adeoye, said the body of investigative journalists across West Africa, with the set objective to expose and fight corrupt practices and all social ills bedevilling the region has done its own findings and found Ahmad guilty as charged.

It said, the investigation by federal government becomes necessary considering that Ahmad is in charge of public fund through budgetary allocation for Rural Electrification Agency and grants for Nigeria Electrification Project, NEP (a department in REA), from development banks.

It further alleged that private investigation conducted by the watchdog journalists’ group revealed many discrepancies in Ahmad’s date of birth and the account name, saying the whole situation raised suspicion of the REA boss’ involvement in fraud.

“Ahmad juggled his names, using: Salihijo Ahmad Ahmad, Ahmad Ahmad Salihijo and Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad as account names in the various bank accounts belonging to him, with the two in his mother’s name earlier mentioned in similar fashion: Bilikisu Ahmad Salihijo (in Zenith Bank) and Salihijo Bilikisu in Jaiz Bank.

“Same discrepancy goes with the dates of birth of the accounts’ holder, reading: October 20, 1983, July 27, 2009, January 1, 1989, May 3, 2012, January 29, 2015, August 24, 1985, March 30, 2004, among others.

“We make bold to also tell the world that only two of these 37 accounts were declared in Ahmad’s Asset Declaration forms he submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau and dated September 3, 2020,” Adeoye claimed.

The group urged President Tinubu to initiate process to investigate Ahmad, adding that if Tinubu fails it would take the matter on itself by dragging the REA MD to court.

“This is a matter of public interest. While we call on President Tinubu to order investigation into this matter of a public servant in possession of 37 bank accounts, all linked to his BVN, by the appropriate law enforcement agencies, we also warn that failure to act, we shall be compelled to draw prosecutorial power from the 2022 decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of RAPHAEL OBIJIAKU V CHIEF JOE OBIJIAKU & 2 ORS (2022) 17 NWLR (PT. 1857) 377 at 405 Paras E- F, which empowers private citizens to institute and prosecute crimes of any kind without fiat from the Attorneys-General,” Adeoye declared.

Adeoye added that since Ahmad took over in December 2019, NEP’s repayable grants from World Bank and African Development Bank to improve access to electricity in underprivileged communities across Nigeria, which is its core mandate totalled over $550m, approximately N426bn.

He however, asked World Bank to stay action on its plan to give NEP a fresh $750m grant until the spending of the initial grant are accounted for.

“Some days back, we listened with surprise and sadness to announcement by World Bank Director of Strategy and Operations, Western/Central African Region, Ms Elizabeth Huybens that this coming August another $750m will be made available to NEP in grant.

“We entreat the bank to tarry until those currently charged with managing the affairs of NEP, particularly as regards the loan and contract awards concerning the grant and past spending are subjected to close scrutiny by relevant enforcement agencies,” the accountability journalists’ group’s General Secretary said.

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