Antigua and Barbuda has granted citizenship to fleeing Nigerian couple and owners of Imagine Lenders, Bamise Samson Ajetunmobi and his wife, Elizabeth, Gatekeepers News is reporting.
The fleeing couple, initially traced to the UK, allegedly have in excess of N22 billion investment of Nigerians with them.
According to Gatekeepers News, the country said in granting citizenship to the Ajetunmobis, it carried out due diligence and found nothing against them.
Gatekeepers News is reporting that Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Unit said in a statement: “Both Bamise Ajetunmobi and Elizabeth Ajetunmobi were granted citizenship in April 2021 having applied under the Citizenship by Investment Programme.”
They CIU added that they were granted the citizenship of the island nation in April after an “intense internal examination”.
CIU said a “leading global due diligence firm” it ostensibly hired to carry out a background check on the couple did not find anything disparaging about them and Imagine Global when they were given citizenship.
It said: “No Interpol Red Notice had been issued for either Mr Bamise Ajetunmobi or Elizabeth Ajetunmobi. As such, at the issuance of citizenship, there was no adverse media, criminal or civil litigation, neither were there regulatory concerns associated with the applicants and their businesses.”
The unit said it has, however, taken note of the reports about Bamise Ajetunmobi and Elizabeth Ajetunmobi and their alleged crimes and is “awaiting the issuance of an official statement by the authorities in Nigeria.”
According to Gatekeepers News, a member of the Antigua and Barbuda Parliament first raised the alarm about the move to grant the Ajetunmobis citizenship.
“I just saw an article about a Nigerian and his wife obtaining Antigua and Barbuda passports/citizenship under the CIP programme, and they are now wanted for defrauding Nigerians,” he said, adding: “So, I’ve already put certain systems in place to ensure that if he’s [they’re] not here yet, that they [security operatives] could capture him [and his wife] on his [their] way here because Antigua and Barbuda won’t be a refuge for scams.”
He noted that the government’s Citizenship by Investment Programme, which requires a person to make a significant economic contribution to the country to be granted citizenship, was put in place to attract investments, not a refuge for crooks.
The lawmaker added that the country’s government will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that those who betray its trust will be returned to “whence they came.”
Already, a Lagos State High Court has ordered about 23 banks in Nigeria not to released N11.795 billion traced to accounts owned by the Ajetunmobis to them.