Monday, April 25, 2016

EFCC probes N4b deposits in ex-minister’s account





Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigators have discovered that about N4billion was channeled through the account which former Finance Minister Mrs. Nenadi Usman operated for  campaign funds purposes, it was learnt at the weekend.

The account is titled “Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited”. A substantial part of the funds was disbursed to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains ahead of last year’s general elections.

Mrs Usman, who has been detained since last Thursday,  is being interrogated by operatives of the anti-graft agency in Lagos.

An EFCC source said: “Mrs Usman was asked to report in our Lagos office so as to be able to secure a remand warrant which will assist us to interact with her.

“There are many issues which she ought to respond to but there is a subsisting directive given to FCT courts to stop granting remand warrant to EFCC. If the anti-graft agency does not detain for  a while, the ongoing investigation will be disrupted.

“The EFCC is not after perpetual detention but it needs time to dig into facts available to it. For instance, the account provided by Nenadi Usman had over N4billion from different depositors, including individuals and organisations.  The list of those who made funds available ought to be screened by the EFCC.”

On the fate of Mr. Azibaola Roberts (former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin) who has been detained over $40million(N12.7b) obtained from the Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA), the source said: “He was also moved to Lagos to be able to complete ongoing investigation.”

“You know he was arrested in respect of payment of $40million by ONSA for a contract which was tagged as purchase of tactical equipment for Special Forces.

“But the cash was actually disbursed by ONSA to pacify militants in the Niger Delta.”

The EFCC is investigating a former Minister for allegedly collecting $400,000 (over N120million) from the Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA) to alter the results of the presidential election from Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Gombe and Kano. The cash is believed to have been allocated to bribe election officials.l

But the ex-minister diverted the cash into personal commitments instead of using it to bribe officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to falsify the results.

All attempts by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan to retrieve the money from the former minister before the May 29, 2015 handover date failed.

The ex-minister is believed to have obtained the over N120million from ONSA without any “justifiable” purpose.

The former minister was said to have been jittery on March 29, last year on the outcome of the presidential election. She rushed down to the Presidential Villa for what she regarded as an “urgent electoral rescue matter.”

It was learnt that she demanded for the $400,000 (over N120million) from the Presidency to bribe electoral officers in the Northeast and Northwest to “alter the presidential poll’s results in favour of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan”.

Although some top Presidency officials had reservations on the agenda of the ex-Minister because of the ethical disposition of ex-INEC chairman Prof. Atahiru Jega, she secured the cash from ONSA.

It was gathered that she told the Presidency that she had done a good homework which will lead to the alteration of results from the Northeast and Northwest.

Investigators believe the ex-minister diverted the cash to personal use.

When it was obvious she was only being smart, Jonathan telephoned the then All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Muhammadu Buhari on March 31, last year to accept defeat.

A source said: “The more we dig into the mismanagement of the $2.1billion arms deals, the more fresh facts are revealed. You can see an individual collecting N120million to bribe INEC officers.

“Moves by the government of Jonathan to retrieve the cash from the ex-minister before the handover date failed. When the pressure was much, she said she had used it to assist a governorship candidate in the APC who was in need.

“Besides the N120million, the ex-minister was also involved in the misuse of public funds for campaign. She is being investigated by the EFCC.

“But she has to cough out this N120million before we move into how public funds were diverted to campaign.”

About a fortnight ago, the EFCC arrested the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission( INEC) in Cross River State, Gesila Khan and four others over a N650.9million 2015 bribery.

The other suspects  and the cash against their names are Fidelia Omoile (Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State)—N112,480,000 ;

Uluochi Obi Brown (INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State)—N111,500,000; a former Deputy Director  of INEC in Cross River State, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC in Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo—N214,127,000.

Materials for the presidential and senatorial polls were retrieved from the home of some of the suspects.

EFCC operatives recovered also many documents on financial and landed properties from the suspects.

Some of the documents include receipts of payments made into their accounts.

The suspects allegedly committed the fraud in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.

There were indications that many INEC staff and ad hoc workers got bribe.

Source: The Nation

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