Opinion: EFCC vs Abba Gana:Legit Business Can’t be Ponzi Scheme
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission on Thursday hurriedly arraigned a businessman it has been holding for five months despite a court order ordering his release.The agency acted few hours after a petition to the National Human Rights Commission and just as it was served with a N50 billion damages suit by lawyers to the detained businessman, Abba Gana Dalori,the Chief Executive of Galaxy Transportation and Construction Services Limited. The agency doing so well in many other areas is deceived into persecuting a company it supervises through its anti money laundering unit.
The EFCC had arrested Dalori for allegedly running a ponzi scheme into which highly placed Nigerians from the Presidency,anti-graft bodies and security agencies invested.Dalori however denied running a ponzi scheme,providing mining licences,EFCC certification,compliance with inland waterways regulations and official investment agreements to prove the legal status of his business.Clearly there was no ponzi scheme.
On April 19th,Dalori sued for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights at an Abuja Federal High Court.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu by May 30th issued a court order ordering the release of Dalori from detention ,affirming that his detention since March 29 without arraignment in court was a violation of Dalori’s fundamental human rights.From May till date,the EFCC refused to comply with the court order,until Thursday when it charged the Galaxy boss for allegedly defrauding Nigerians.
While EFCC alleges ponzi scheme operation,records ,documents and licences tendered in courts by the Galaxy CEO which were made available to journalists however showed that Engr Abba Gana Dalori and his company actually operates under certification of the anti-money laundering unit of the EFCC,the compliance regime of the National Inland Waterways Authority,multiple mining and quarry licences from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
The records showed that Galaxy Transportation and Construction Services Limited is registered with the EFCC’s Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) with certificate number 151602146 issued on September 1st,2016. On the basis of the certification with EFCC ,Galaxy has also ben rendering weekly financial transactions reports to the anti money laundering office of the EFC. Copies as acknowledged by the EFCC were made availble covering the Months of May to September 2018.
Aside official records and registration with the EFCC,Galaxy is also registered with National Inland Waterways Authority to which it paid a regular regulatory charges in line with the law.The inland water authority in a letter dated 4th may 2018 requested for the payment in line with relevaht sections of Niwa act.NIWA team once met Galaxy team with payment pegged at three million naira plus while galaxy registers her dredgers on annual basis.This was on May 25th,2018 with the records of the meeting signed by Mallan Shuaibu Ojirobe,the NIWA compliance officer.
Further documents showed that Galaxy has Quarry licence with the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development no 26236QL covering November 14th to November 13th,2022.There is the Small Scale Mijing Licence number 26525 SSML covering September 15th 2017 to December 14t ,2022. Small scale Mining Licence number 27134 SSML covering March 21st,2018 to March 20th,2023.Quarry lease number 25898 OL covering 2017 to 2022. Exploration licence number 26230 EL covering 2017 to 2020
Intrestingly ,Galaxy also has NSTIF clearance certificate,Industrual Training Fund certificate,National Pension Commission certificate ,FIRS VaT registration,and even evidence of registration with the Bureau of Public Procurement.A ponzi scheme cannot not be this comprehensively certified and licenced. A ponzi scheme cannot have certificates from EFCC, comply with inland wayerway rules and obtained all mining licences. A ponzi scheme cannot have top officials from security and anti graft agencies as investors. A ponzi scheme cannot have offices and officials who even submit financial operations details to anti-money laundering unit of the EFCC.
Those familiar with the matter had noted that the above facts may be the reason why EFCC could not charge Engr Dalori for the last five months.There is no ponzi scheme but attempts by powerful forces to blackmail a businessman hit by flooding disaster at the mining and quarry site.
As it’s usual in all forms of business activities. the Jere sand mining activities was hit by a flood disaster in August 2018 washing away sands worth about N700m as well as some dredgers causing huge lost to the company. Also due to the 2018 earth tremor, federal Government suspended quarry activities around Abuja and this too affected galaxy’s source of income.
As a result of the above natural disaster, Galaxy couldn’t settle it’s clients as from October 2018, and thus requested a grace of four months ie March 2019. Also it took galaxy too long to purchase other dredgers to put Jere site in shape and the quarry activities were delayed due to ban on explosive materials. However coupled with the political activities within the period ie October to March 2018, most of the customers who purchase from Galaxy diverted their attention and resources to Politics and rendered most businesses redundant and this is normal every 4yrs.
Naturally due to the impending issues Galaxy requested for more time in order to settle it’s clients and a great number of clients have agreed and reasoned with the management of Galaxy with the exception of so called Katsina clients who used the power of the office of the first lady to petition galaxy to the EFCC. EFCC, invited Engr Dalori March ending and kept him up now under its custody without charging him to court and releasing awkward press updates that includes character assassinations and destroying the image of the company.
Galaxy management immediately after the flooding commenced rehabilitation of the sites for early return to business so as to settle clients.The arrest however scuttled rehabilitation efforts even as host communities for the business sent several symphaty letters to Engr Dalori over the flooding and loss of sands totalling almost N700 million naira and multi Million naira dregding equipment at the mining and quarry sites.
Among the condolences in writing was that of Latino village head of Jere kingdom dated16 August,2018 and signed by the Latino village head himself ,Yusuf megami.Another one sighted by journalists is from Dagacin Ingili,Bishirin district of Adara kingdom within kachia local government of Kaduna state and signed by Manama kato himself.The village head of Dumale,Abdulrauf Mohammed also commiserated with Galaxy in a letter dated October 9th,20198.Ife village head,Ilya Johanna did the same in a letter dated 14th September,2018
An alternative dispute resolution expert,Usman Alabi described the Galaxy/EFCC case as one in need of alternative dispute resolution.According to him,”the investors and Galaxy management should sit and resolve their differences.Efforts to use EFCC as a debt recovery tool has failed.
“An ADR will ensure that business packages between Galaxy and the investors can be reviewed.A new relationship can commence that will be beneficial to all parties.EFCC should hand off and face more serious issues”,the ADR expert noted.
*Ado.Adamu writes from Zaria,Kaduna state.