Festus Keyamo, Minister Of State for Niger Delta Affairs, has defended his photo with Jerry Ikogho, one of the cyber fraud suspects arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for massive fraud, saying they are childhood friends.
Keyamo was the centre of backlash late last week after a photo of himself and Ikogho emerged online.
Ikogho, who is number three on the 77-man list of Nigerian fraud suspects released by the FBI on Thursday, is spotted wearing sunglasses with Keyemo and two others in the viral photo.
However, according to Keyamo, he and Ikogho were born in Ughelli, Delta state, and grew up together as friends, adding that the picture was taken in 2011 at the burial of the father of one of the two other men who appeared in the picture.
“He is my childhood friend. We were born in the same town (Ughelli). We attended the 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,” Keyamo said.
“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.”