© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Conflict of interest: How FRSC Corps Marshall forced officers to open salary account with microfinance bank he has stake in
THE decision of Oyeyemi Boboye, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Corps Marshall, mandating the officers, especially new recruits, to compulsorily open monthly salary accounts with Safeline Microfinance Bank (MFB), a financial institution in which he has substantial interest, is causing serious anxiety among officers of the agency.
For years, The ICIR gathered that Boboye, until this investigation commenced, had perfected a system whereby each time new recruits are employed, while in training camp, they are given account opening forms of a micro finance bank and are subsequently issued account numbers days before their graduation.
While in camp, a document titled “Standing Order”, which is actually a bank opening form, was distributed to 4,650 new officers nationwide by the FRSC officials. The new recruits have just been posted after the training.
They all had their training at FRSC Academies in three locations: Enugu, Jos and Kontagora in Niger State.
The recruits were not given any other banking option or allowed to use existing bank accounts.
But, Safeline (RC 760000), unlike the conventional commercial banks has limited branches of operation, thus making withdrawal frustrating for the new officers after they were posted across the country.
Investigations by The ICIR have however unearthed the reason why Oyeyemi is particularly interested in feathering the nest of this particular micro finance bank.
Alas! it was discovered that he, indeed, has more than a passing interest in the bank as, contrary to government regulations, he is a serving director on the institution.
Originally registered as a limited liability company in 2008 with Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) final approval given in February 2010, it was discovered that the MFB with a share capital of 500,000,000 has six directors with Oyeyemi listed as number one. Other directors are Ibrahim Baba Gana, Shehu, Horo Emmanuel Gemache, Igbokwe Gilbert Ibebuka, Biu Dauda Alli and Emmanuel Ifeanyichukwu Charles. The shareholders of the bank include Apoch Oko Godwin, Olashore Olushola, Kumapaiyi Ayodele and Anafa B.D. It has since transformed into a Public Liability Company (PLC) with 1,005 shareholders contrary to over 3, 000 as claimed.
Oyeyemi’s actions directly conflict with provisions of the Nigerian Constitution. The Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, which deals with codes of conduct for public officials, states clearly in Part 1, Section 1 that “A public official shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities”.
Section 2 (B) states that a public official shall not “engage or participate in the management of any private business, profession or trade …” Business here, according to Section 318 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, is defined as “any profession, vocation, trade, or any other adventure or concern in the nature of trade excluding farming.”
Besides these constitutional infractions, no part of the FRSC Act (2007), authorises the Corp Marshall, or any other public official, to determine what bank where government employees should open their salary accounts.
“They just came one day and ask us to sit in the hall and account numbers were given to us and in the same manner, forms were also brought to us,” one of the affected newly recruited officers told The ICIR.
Asked if there was an official notice in that respect, the source explained, “…they already opened it on our behalf before telling us about it. And it was much later that they brought forms for us to fill….And all these were done while in training amidst threats and hostilities.”
Some of the old staff, it was gathered, had to manage for a period of six months and beyond “before they could access their salaries from the Safeline account”.
Meanwhile, a number of the aggrieved officers had earlier taken to the social media to anonymously vent their anger and displeasure on the development. They claimed it has become a trend for years until the newly recruited officers frowned at the matter and expressed concerns.
“The peak of these corrupt practices by the corps marshal is the compulsory opening of salary account with a microfinance bank called “Safeline” owned by Boboye Oyeyemi and his fellow top-ranking FRSC senior officers,” an officer alleged.
“A bank with meagre capital base, no working ATM card, no known branch, aside from the only existing one in Abuja. This act of regimental robbery and several others gives one reason to wonder why a man saddled with the responsibility of moving an organisation forward will decide to run it aground by subjecting the staffs to untold hardship and enrich his pocket.”
Other affected staffs were reluctant to share their concerns due to the fear of losing their jobs if caught.
FRSC makes sudden U-turn
On August 2, the Commission in a directive with reference number FRSC/HQ/OPS/94/VOL.XIII/054 acknowledged the new recruits were paid allowances via the Safeline Bank. But it went further to lift the restriction, permitting the new staff to either continue with the MFB or provide an alternative bank account. There should be a handwritten letter of “intention,” the letter stated.
The concerned officers further accused the commission of extortion through its top officers while in the camp in January 2019, stressing that they were charged frivolous amounts for basic necessities such as name tags, oath forms among others.
On training allowances, the new staff complained that officers of other paramilitary agencies were paid higher sums than what they received, insisting that they ought to be paid both training allowances and salaries for the six months used on camp.
“The set that was employed before us, they started receiving salaries in the 4th month of their training that lasted for six months. But in our case, we were paid N20, 000 per month and the money was paid in two tranches.”
“The first N59, 000 was paid in the last week of the training while the second was paid weeks after we left camp. N1, 000 was removed from the money as charges for standing order on both occasions. In all, we were paid N118,000 for the whole training”.
Another problem is that the officials allege that those who left Safeline to open salary accounts with other banks have been victimised as they receive their monthly pay nearly four weeks into the next month.
“Those whose still run account with Safeline receive their salaries on 3rd of the next month, while those who resolved to use other banks get theirs on 25th of the next months.”
Bisi Kazeem, the spokesperson for the commission denied the claims. “There is nothing like that. We have created a rejoinder in many places. The rejoinder is available,” says Kazeem. “Google it online, you will see it,” and he terminated the call with a promise to call back.
The ICIR searched online but there was no rejoinder from the commission as claimed. The reporter later shared his findings with Kazeem on how Boboye is a Director in Safeline MFB but he simply described the report as “False News”.
Eight minutes after, he sent another text message affirming his position, “Go and do further research. He is not.”