Billionaire businessman and lawyer, Tunde Ayeni, is in detention at the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Abuja in relation with the ongoing investigation of former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, for alleged fraud, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
Mr. Ayeni was arrested Thursday and has remained in detention ever since, with investigators asking him to refund one billion Naira his bank, Aso Savings and Loans, an Abuja-based Primary Mortgage Institution, allegedly passed to Mr. Mohammed in yet unclear circumstances.
“We will release him once he pays back the money,” an EFCC official familiar with the matter said Friday night. “We want to give the money back to the bank.”
The official said Mr. Mohammed struck a N1billion deal with Aso Savings and Loans, which transacted a N1billion land swap transaction with the FCT administration at the time.
Mr. Ayeni was vice chairman of the bank at the time.
The EFCC is investigating Mr. Mohammed, who was arrested on October 24, for alleged financial crimes in excess of N1.6 trillion.
Sources within the agency told this newspaper that Mr. Mohammed, who served from April 2010 until May 2015, was allegedly involved in extensive land racketeering while he was minister.
“After computation of the land deals that he struck, we discovered that more than N1.6 trillion could not be accounted for,” a source said.
The former minister could not be reached to comment for this story.
This is the second time Mr. Ayeni would be a guest of the EFCC.
In 2004, he was arrested in relation with the corruption trial of former Bayelsa Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
The businessman was arrested by the commission over the matter and later mentioned in court documents as admitting helping Mr. Alamieyeseigha to execute some deals.
The EFCC has since cleared Mr. Ayeni of complicity in the Alamieyeseigha saga.
In two letters sighted by PREMIUM TIMES, the anti-graft agency admitted Mr. Ayeni was detained and questioned over some transactions during the Alamieyseigha case, but was cleared of all liabilities.
Mr. Ayeni has since then remained one of Nigeria’s most ambitious businessmen, investing heavily in almost all key sectors of the Nigerian economy – oil and gas, telecoms and power.
He was until recently the chairman of Skye Bank and was awarded Commander of the Order of Niger (CON) – a national recognition – by the Federal Government.