Operatives from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) carried out a surprise raid on Thursday at the headquarters of Dangote Industries Limited in Ikoyi, Lagos. The action is part of an ongoing investigation into the alleged misuse of foreign exchange allocations during the tenure of the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
According to sources, the EFCC is scrutinizing the purported preferential allocations of foreign exchange to the Dangote Group, owned by billionaire Aliko Dangote, along with 51 other companies during Emefiele’s leadership at the CBN.
While two senior EFCC officials confirmed the presence of their operatives at Dangote’s headquarters, they declined to provide specific details about the nature of the investigation.
The EFCC had reportedly previously written to the 52 companies, including Dangote Group, requesting documents supporting the allocation and utilization of foreign exchange at official rates over the past decade. The investigation focuses on the period from 2014 to June 2023.
During the raid, EFCC operatives reportedly seized financial documents related to forex allocations from 2014 to June 2023. The search began around 3 pm and continued for several hours, causing a stir among staff and visitors at the Dangote headquarters.
Notably, the EFCC’s probe is centered on concerns about inflationary pressures in Nigeria. The inflation rate reportedly surged to 27.3% in October, attributed to the removal of petrol subsidies and the devaluation of the naira.
The investigation comes in the wake of revelations by the Special Investigator on the CBN and Related Entities, Jim Obazee. The report implicated Emefiele in alleged improper handling of public funds in foreign currencies, including unauthorized deposits in foreign banks and manipulation of the naira exchange rate.
Although the EFCC officials did not confirm any arrests, the raid signals a heightened scrutiny of the financial practices during Emefiele’s tenure. The investigation could potentially lead to charges against Emefiele and other high-ranking officials at the CBN.
When contacted, the spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, declined to comment on the raid, and Dangote Industries’ spokesperson, Sunday Esan, did not respond to inquiries.
A Dangote official claimed the company had already complied with the EFCC’s previous request for documents and expressed bewilderment at the subsequent raid. The official questioned the need for the second visit, emphasizing that all requested documents had been previously submitted.
The EFCC’s operation coincided with South African billionaire Johann Rupert surpassing Aliko Dangote as Africa’s wealthiest person, according to Forbes Real-Time Billionaires. Dangote reportedly experienced a wealth reduction from $13.5 billion in 2023 to $9.7 billion as of January 4, 2024, marking a $3.8 billion loss.