By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ilorin Zonal Office, has arrested the Director-General, Kwara State Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (SME), Segun Soewu, over alleged N2billion fraud.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Tony Orilade, the anti-graft agency on Monday said it also arrested six other microfinance bank managing directors for alleged fraudulent misappropriation and mismanagement of funds.
The arrested MDs are ”Ogudu Samuel of Brightway Micro Finance; A.K. Imam of Magajingari of Micro Finance; Adeleke M.S. of Sincere Micro Finance Bank; Yusuf Muideen of Balogun Fulani Micro Finance Bank; Issa Abdulrasheed of KCMB Micro Finance Bank, and Oyebode Asimiyu of Apels Micro Finance Bank.
Others are “Lawal Ayo of Omu-Aran Micro Finance Bank; Tope Eniola of Iludun Micro Finance Bank; Lawal Folashade of Stockcarp Micro Finance Bank; Yusuf Tajudeen of First Heritage Micro Finance Bank, and Olawoye E.O. of Offa Micro Finance bank.
According to the statement, the arrests were triggered through an intelligence report that the accused fraudulently misappropriated about N2 billion given by the Kwara State Government to assist market men and women across the 16 local government areas of the state.
The EFCC also said the investigations further revealed that at the point of granting the loans, Mr Soewu and the 16 microfinance bank chiefs failed to follow due process.
“Investigations revealed that the two billion naira loan facility which was designed for lending to the general public to support their businesses and augment their working capital was distributed to highly placed politicians, traditional rulers and prominent people within the 16 LGAs,” EFCC said.
According to the EFCC, Mr Soewu and one of the managing directors of the bank who were grilled by the operatives of the commission for several hours said: “A prominent and First Class traditional ruler in the state received over N78 million cash from the loans, which was designed to assist petty traders but never returned a dime.
“The traditional ruler through his company, Yafy International Ventures Limited secured the loans without following the due process.”
They disclosed further that “selected and influential market men and women across the 16 Local Government Areas of the state received the sum of N5million each as loans, but did not pay back the money.”
The commission also alleged that about 50 per cent of the controversial loans were shared by highly placed individuals and selected businessmen and women at the expense of other beneficiaries, which defeated the aims and objectives of Small and Medium Enterprise Development.
Findings by the operatives of the commission also indicated that the highly placed individuals who benefited from the loan between 2012 to 2018 failed to pay back the huge loans they secured.
The commission said the arrested suspects are still in the custody of the commission and are cooperating with the EFCC.