By David Olalekan.
The Minister of State, Niger Delta Affairs, Festus Keyamo (SAN) has denied alleged involvement in fraudulent activities after he was spotted in a photo with one of the 78 Nigerians indicted by the United States government for fraud and money laundering.
Keyamo came under severe criticism after a photo of himself and alleged internet fraudster, Jerry Elo Ikogho, circulated on social media.
In his reaction, the minister revealed that Ikogho was his childhood friend whom he could not deny.
He added that the suspected internet scammer was from a decent home, while urging the US government to get their facts right.
“He is my childhood friend. We were born in the same town (Ughelli). We attended same church from birth. His parents and mine, best of friends, till tomorrow. His siblings and mine too. Only left for the US about 10-12 years ago.
“Can’t deny him. It’s a family relationship from birth. He’s from a decent family. Hope they got their facts right. The wife has sent the charge to me.
“The authorities clearly stated that he may not have known of the fraudulent schemes, but he helped one or two of them to transfer funds illegally for a fee. And he didn’t declare excess money at the airport. Wish him well.
“In fact that picture is even at the burial of the father of the guy on the far right about 8 years ago. The guy is in the same childhood group like all of us. Likewise the guy on the far left, a lawyer, who died at the National Hospital here in Abuja about 5 years ago”, Keyamo was quoted as saying.
Recall that the US government had earlier released names of 80 individuals indicted in massive online fraud and money laundering in the country.
The suspects were said to have used illegitimate money exchangers to move funds overseas.