N-Power D-banj’s list: ICPC discovers 20,000 more ghost names

N-Power D-banj’s list: Famous Nigerian musician, Oladapo Oyebanji, famously known as D’banj will remain in the detention facility of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over a fresh discovery of 20,000 ghost workers infused into the N-Power Programme.


The anti-graft agency detained D’banj on Tuesday over fraud allegations involving the N-Power Programme.


On June 8, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the programme to address the issues of youth unemployment and empowerment, and also promote social development.


According to SaharaReporters top government officials introduced over 70,000 ghost workers into the N-Power Programme and fraudulently diverted billions of naira into their pockets.


“70,000 names were infused into N-Power by officials of the Buhari regime in the last four years.


“The fake list costs Nigeria N2.1 billion per year while original N-Power candidates are left unpaid,” a source said.

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In June 2021, SaharaReporters reported that 14,000 beneficiaries of the N-Power programme were owed for five months.


N-Power is a youth empowerment scheme sponsored by the Nigerian Government under the Social Investment Program (SIP).


Other programmes under the scheme include Home Grown School Feeding, Tradermoni, Marketmoni and the Conditional Cash Transfer in the 36 states of the country.

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Since the social investment programme of the government was moved to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management; the minister, Sadiya Farouq, had been making attempts to stop some of the programmes under the scheme.


Aside from announcing that beneficiaries would be laid off, she had also refused to release funds for the school feeding programme in some states.


A source at the humanitarian ministry on Wednesday night told SaharaReporters that top government officials in President Buhari’s government have been using cronies to siphon funds under the social intervention programmes.

N-Power D-banj’s list: ICPC discovers 20,000 more ghost names
N-Power D-banj’s list: ICPC discovers 20,000 more ghost names

A source had confided that ICPC would release D’banj on Wednesday night after failing to successfully link the musician to the fraudulent activities in the N-Power Programme.

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“D’banj will be released tonight by the ICPC. The agency is unable to link him concretely with fraudulent activities in N-Power,” a top source in the agency had told SaharaReporters.


However, the source on Thursday said investigators discovered a fresh list containing over 20,000 ghost names, tagged “D’banj’s list.”


He said the names were allegedly used to divert over N600 million monthly for over two years by government officials in connivance with the Nigerian musician.


The source however added that D’banj refuted the allegation and denied any knowledge of the list.


“Like I told you yesterday, D’banj was to be released last night but our (ICPC) Director of Operations wasn’t available. So, his lawyers were asked to come back today,” he said.


“But our investigators just discovered another 20,000 N-Power list, so he (D’banj) will remain in detention.


“Today when his lawyers arrived for his release, they were told about this fresh list containing 20,000 names. This list was being used to divert N600 million monthly from Nigeria in the last two years by Buhari government officials. The list containing 20,000 names has been bleeding Nigeria N600 million monthly over the last two years.


“It’s named the D-banj’s list. He actually denied the list when he was interrogated by our officials. That’s the reason he wasn’t released as planned.”


Meanwhile, Pelumi Olajengbesi, the lawyer to  D’Banj, has called for the release of the singer from the custody of the ICPC.


Olajengbesi in a statement on Thursday said D’Banj who was arrested by the anti-graft agency on Tuesday, was innocent of the allegations of fund diversion trailing him regarding the social empowerment programme ‘N-Power Scheme.’


This was also as he demanded that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs should make public the names of government officials allegedly involved with D’Banj in the alleged fraud.

Olajengbesi, the Managing Partner at Law Corridor, thereafter sought the release of the singer, especially having spent 48 hours in detention in the course of interrogation.


“It has become necessary in the interest of justice and for public record to make known the following facts with regard to the false allegation against Mr. Daniel Oladapo (D’banj) especially as his immediate release has become expedient under the law and constitutional convention having satisfactorily cooperated with Commission’s investigation within the last 48 hours.


“Investigators of the Commission have between December 6 and 7, 2022, thoroughly examined D’banj’s honest and straightforward answers to all its inquiries to the mutual satisfaction of the Commission and his legal representatives.


“That D’banj has dutifully cooperated with the Commission in the course of their investigation and demonstrated a shared zeal to help the Commission make its impassioned and honest findings on the matter as he is interested in clearing his name as well,” the lawyer said.


He added that after Wednesday’s interview session, “we were informed he would be released as a matter of course having found nothing on him and with no further grounds for his continued detention. However, the Chairman of the Commission was required to sign off on his immediate release before it could be effected and that never happened.


“We were at the Commission today (Thursday) to give D’banj the required legal representation and all we waited for was still the ‘approval from above’ that never came. D’banj was also not interviewed today on any other issue before his lawyers.”


“While holding on to the sustained hope that D’banj will not somehow become the victim of targeted blackmail or faceless malice from certain quarters with perhaps vested interest in his downfall, we want to reassure the general public and the Commission by implication that we are fully ready and willing to cooperate to the extent of the law that makes for the finding of the truth in this matter which we take quite seriously,” the statement said.


D’Banj’s lawyer sought the provision of names of government officials allegedly involved in colluding with the singer to perpetuate the alleged fraud.


“We in the same vein reiterate that D’banj has no such access nor colluded with any government officials over any dubious transaction. The very allegation is a nightmare that must be dissipated by an assertion of the truth of D’banj’s unimpeachable innocence.


“As a matter of course, we now place a major demand on the oversight Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to immediately cause the release of the names of the government officials alleged to have colluded with D’banj and the investigation of same should be made public. We also demand that the ministry should make public immediately money alleged to have been traced to D’banj’s account.


“We call on the National Assembly’s Public Account Committee to open a wide investigation into the N-Power scheme through an open and all-free entry public hearing without protecting any sacred cows.


“It is alarming and incongruous to design such an allegation against D’banj who does not have access to government accounts or government platforms to have been alleged to have diverted such huge sums without any single government official in custody with him.


“We have opted to treat this matter with all sense of diligence and with the benefit of doubt extended to the Commission given that we are mindful the Commission is headed by a Professor of Law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria whom we believe reckons with the principle that an accused is innocent until proven guilty and would constitutionally comply with same,” Olajengbesi said.


It is to this end that we implore the Commission to be mindful of having detained D’banj beyond the constitutionally allowed limits without a charge made in court, following which we encourage the Commission to have him brought before a competent court with the necessary charges forthwith or duly release him while continuing their investigation which we understand can be a demanding and pressing task.


“D’banj is innocent of all the laughable allegations and deliberate publicity and has demonstrated patriotism by encouraging the Commission and such an act in good faith must not be unfairly rewarded,” he added.

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