How Laide Bakare’s Hubby Conned MTN’s Staff of N2.5bn
‘Catch me if you can’ seems to be the song on the lips of Alhaji Atanda Mutairu Babatunde Orilowo, popularly known as ATM, declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in connection with a case of criminal conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretences and stealing, as E24-7MAGAZINE’s checks revealed ugly and shocking details of the N2.5 billion naira scam involved.
Mutairu, 47, and 5’7 feet tall, E24-7 MAGAZINE investigation revealed, allegedly connived with two past executives of MTN’s Employees Multipurpose Cooperative Society, namely, Victor Akintunde and Gani Mustapha to defraud members having been contacted by the legal department of the telecommunications company to stop with further notice the purchase of 13 hectares of land, out of which 5 hectares Orilowo bought from his family, BabaEgbe had issues.
To the dismay of the department, Victor Akintunde ignored the caveat, made another payment of N40million after the initial N10m totaling N50m, being part payment without approval or any formal documentation from Orilowo’s Primavera Company. Again, the two former excos on their own transferred the sum of N990million to Primavera to purchase the 13hectares in Okun Aja area of Lagos.
The sacked MTN Employees Multipurpose Cooperative Society’s executive had on their own approached Orilowo, a land speculator to purchase for them the 321 plots for the proposed Y’ello Estate. Within 2006 and 2009, checks revealed, the two executives acting on their own authorized the transfer of almost N700million to Orilowo’s company, Primavera.
While another purchase of the 26 hectares of land belonged to the Jagun Opolu family, Orilowo gave MEMCOS the impression that it was his property. Findings showed that while he was paid N700million by MEMCOS, for the land, assumed to be his own, he paid the representative of the family he bought it from, one Atiku, the sum of N200million. Atiku eventually paid the family N36million. In 2010, the Jagun Opolu family got wind of the fact that Primavera was not remitting to them accordingly, they wrote MEMCOS to pay them directly henceforth.
Within members, undue delay led to agitations and many acts of financial misappropriations started to unfold. The 26 hectares from the Jagun Opolu family initially put at N963million, it was found out that the sum of N863million was paid. To save face, the disgraced exco, ran to the Jagun Opolu family to raise a fictitious document that the hectares of land was sold at N1.4bn with MEMCOS yet to pay the balance. Other financial discrepancies were found in the claim to obtain title deeds, September 22, 2008, an additional N290m paid after the initial N990m), tax clearance for land owners, Zenith Bank’s N120m cheque issued to Primavera on 23rd January, 2009, whereas N9million was initially paid to Lagos State Government for tax clearance. Another bogus payment was found 23 July, 2008 when N310m in Zenith Bank’s cheque was issued to Primavera by the past executives and only the sum of N76m was paid to LASG to process the land documents.
Apparently dissatisfied with the whole process, the new excos of MEMCOS advertised the contract, calling companies to tender their bids. A new company, Trioteknix got the job but several clogs have been thrown into their steps to execute the project since 2011. As at April 2014, thousands of staffers of MTN who are members of MEMCOS don’t know their fate, precisely six years after the promise to deliver the housing project in 24months. Triotekniks, the new contractor is battling with a waterlogged land to be sandfilled and undue interference from the land prospectors and a law suit hanging on theiir necks.
Orilowo who was later dragged to EFCC, and interrogated suddenly disappeared and consequently, he was declared wanted. The notice to this effect that he has been declared wanted was issued and advertised in a national daily and on the financial crime commission’s website as at the time of filing this report on Saturday. He was widely reported to have absconded.
Last week, the property merchant through his reps issued a statement that refuted the claim by EFCC that he was on the run. He accused top MTN’s staffer of attempt to hijack the project because he was the only one handling it. Throwing her support behind her husband, star actress, Laide Bakare said: “False allegations. Okun Aja is not far. You can visit the Y’ellow Estate and my husband has done it for them. He also has a judgement against MTN people in court. My husband has fully delivered the job and they must pay him.”
But in a swift reaction, Mrs. Funmilayo Mustapha, a General Manager with MTN and an executive member of MEMCOS insisted that Primavera’s Mutairu in connivance with two members of the past MEMCOS’ Excos- Victor Akintunde and Gani Mustapha, defrauded the Cooperative Society of about “N2.5billion which we have every evidence to prove it already with EFCC. We are in the court and they are already arraigned, Primavera, that is Alhaji Mutairu has already absconded and the court has given a bench warrant to get him arrested anywhere he is seen.
On Mutairu’s claim that some top staff members of MTN wanted to hijack the project, she said: “MTN is different from MEMCOS. MTN has no relationship with Primavera or Mutairu. No, there is no top staff that wanted to hijack. He defrauded. I’m a General Manager in MTN and the reason why I came into this is to take back the money of low level staffs, because low level staff, middle-level staffs that contributed into this, even their families and friends contributed into this and by that fact there is no top management staff that wanted to hijack, they wanted transparency, that was the reason why they said he should stop because there was no written contract agreement between MEMCOS and Primavera. They had the intention of defrauding, that is Primavera, Victor Akintunde, Gani Mustapha and Alhaji Mutairu they all had the intention of defrauding members of MTN’s Cooperative by not giving them houses. N2.5b has been contributed.
Asked if those past executives are still in the employment of MTN, she said: “No, they are not, MTN disengaged with them because we never believed in people who lack integrity; the watchword of MTN is integrity, so whenever we discover that your integrity is impaired no matter how little, we have to disengage with you. MTN disengaged with them since December 2012,” she said.