The musician was arrested and detained Tuesday after ICPC operatives closed in on him, forcing him to surrender himself at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, sources familiar with the matter said.
D’banj, insiders said, had dodged summons for weeks, claiming to be overseas for scheduled concerts each time he was invited to appear for interrogation over fraud allegation.
The pop star, a wealthy Nigerian celebrity, is accused of fraudulently diverting hundreds of naira earmarked by the Nigerian government for N-Power project, an empowerment programme set up by the Nigerian government in 2016 to address youth unemployment and increase social development.
Investigators allege that D’banj colluded with some compromised government officials to introduce ghost beneficiaries into the payroll of the scheme. The stipend paid to those beneficiaries are then paid to accounts that have now allegedly been linked to the pop star.
After the musician failed to show up for interrogation despite multiple invitations, the ICPC moved to arrest him anywhere in Nigeria and abroad, forcing him to show up at the commission’s office on Tuesday.
On arrival, D’banj was subjected to a prolonged interrogation session after which he was detained. His plea for administrative bail was rejected by officials who said the musician could not be trusted to attend his trial if released on bail.
Our sources said the ICPC might approach the court on Wednesday for an extended remand order to enable the agency complete its investigation before charging the musician to court.
The spokesperson for the ICPC, Azuka Ogugua, could not be reached to comment for this story. She is said to be attending a programme abroad. Being in detention, the musician too could not be reached for comment.
D’banj, 42, also known as the Kokomaster, was born on 9 June, 1980 in Zaria in Kaduna State, north-west Nigeria, to a military officer who commanded an artillery regiment and a businesswoman from Shagamu in Ogun State (South-west Nigeria), his profile on Wikipedia says.
The musician has twins as siblings — Taiwo and Kehinde Oyebanjo.
A songwriter, singer, rapper and television personality, D’banj has been active in the vibrant Nigerian music scene since 2004. He sings afrobeat, hip pop, pop, and R&B.