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Posts tagged ‘EFCC’

Dear Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala II By Sonala Olumhense.


Columnist:

Sonala Olumhense

I thank you for acknowledging my article published last week.  I trouble you with this follow-up only because of the dangerous debris left behind by your Special Adviser, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu.

First, on the “Abacha loot” recovery, let it be clear that my advocacy concerning Nigeria’s “recovered” funds is neither new, nor limited to your story.

In “Whatever Happened to the Abacha Loot?” (June 22, 2008), I wrote, “The national interest would be well served by a transparent picture of what has actually happened…The indications are that some of the funds recovered from the man and his family may have been re-stolen, or misused.”

In terms of numbers, my case is that Nigeria seems to have recovered between $2 and $3b from Abacha.  You say $500 million.

I know that the realistic number is mine because that is what the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, reported in 2006.

In a statement in London in November of that year, Mr. Ribadu stated that “Abacha “took over $6 billion from Nigeria,” and that $2 billion had been recovered during his term of office.  He repeated that figure that same month during the 12th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Guatemala.  In Dakar at the 2nd Annual High Level Dialogue on Governance and Democracy in Africa, just three months ago, Mr. Ribadu repeated the claim that Nigeria recovered $2 billion.  Nobody has ever challenged him.

It is also significant, Madam, that one year before Ribadu went on record about the $2 billion recovery for the first time, you said the same thing.  The event was a press conference in September 2005 in Switzerland.  Up till that point, Nigeria had recovered “about $2 billion total of assets,” you said.

Nonetheless, the $2 billion recovered in the Abacha hunt that was referred to by Mr. Ribadu and your good self in 2005 and 2006 is without prejudice to the $700 million that former Finance Minister Michael Ani said in November 1998 had been recovered from Abacha.  Ani described $1.3bn in illegal withdrawals discovered to have been made by Ismaila Gwarzo, the National Security Adviser for Abacha.

To Gwarzo belongs one of the sadder chapters of the loot recovery story. At the end of 1998, Abdussalam Abubakar said the government had recovered $1 billion from the Abacha family and another $250 million from Gwarzo.  When Obasanjo became president, at least $500 million more was recovered from Gwarzo in 2000.

The foregoing might explain why you said in a speech after you left the Obasanjo government, “General Abacha looted about $3-5 billion from the Nigerian treasury in truckloads of cash in foreign currencies, in traveler’s checks and other means.”

My point is: much more than $500 million was recovered from Abacha, some of them before, and some of them in-between your tenures as Minister of Finance.

Perhaps you refer only to $500m because the specific subject of your September 2005 Switzerland press conference was $458 million, which you said Nigeria had recovered.

That $500m is supported somewhat by an account of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the World Bank, which said at the launch of the Stolen Asset Recovery in September 2007 that Nigeria had recovered a total of $505.5 million from the Swiss government.   On that occasion, at which you were present, it was also stated that up to $800m had been recovered from Abacha domestically.

Before all that, in November 2003, you personally announced that Nigeria had recovered $149 million from the Island of Jersey.  In case you may have forgotten, you clarified that the $149 million was not part of a $618 million trip you had just made to Switzerland at that time.

Nonetheless, in December 2006, La Declaration de Berne, a Swiss humanitarian body, alleged that Switzerland had repatriated $700 million to Nigeria, but alleged irregularities in Nigeria’s use of the money, claiming $200 million was unaccounted for.

That $700m figure seems to be in harmony with the statement made by Dr. Hans-Rudolf Hodel, the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria at a press conference three months ago, during which he gave that figure as what his country returned to Nigeria.

Similarly, on 10 March 2008, the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) announced at a joint press conference they had recovered “over N600 billion” in five years.

That sum seems somewhat conservative, but a lot more than $500 million of it came from Abacha.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • In May 2000, Luxembourg confirmed it had found and frozen $630 million in eight bank accounts in a private bank, in the names of the Abachas, awaiting Nigeria’s claim.
  • In August 2000, Nigeria asked Liechtenstein to help recover 100m British pounds.
  • In October 2001, a British High Court asked the government ahead to help Nigeria trace over $1bn in Abacha loot.
  • In May 2002, President Obasanjo struck a deal with the Abachas under which the government was to recover about $1.2 billion.
  • In February 2010, the British Government announced in Abuja it would repatriate 43 million pounds recovered from the offshore accounts of various Nigerian officials.

Some of these happened when you were not in the government, I know, but we are not talking about your personal life.  The point is that as a people, we cannot move forward unless there is true and full transparency.  Where is all the money?  Can you tell us?

Your over-reaching spokesman illustrates my point.  “On the NNPC oil accounts issue…Dr Okonjo-Iweala has called for an independent forensic audit to establish the facts of any unaccounted for money and ensure that all every Naira that is owed the treasury is returned to the Federation Account…the fundamental problem of determining the facts as a basis for action must still be tackled. Is there room for more action on corruption? Of course the answer can only be yes. But action is needed to achieve change. Talk is cheap, action is crucial.”

Exactly, Madame Minister, let us have a forensic independent audit.  But may I propose three productive caveats to your government?  The audit must be international; cover the NNPC and the recovered funds; and date from 1999.   This is the only scenario that can guarantee that the full story will be told.

Let me illustrate the depth of our depravity with a graphic example made by Ribadu in 2009 to the US House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.  “Mr. D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha, governor of oil rich Bayelsa State. He had four properties in London valued at about £10 million, plus another property in Cape Town valued at $1.2 million. £1 million cash was found in his bedroom at his apartment in London. £2 million was restrained at the Royal Bank of Scotland in London and over $240 million in Nigeria. This is in addition to bank accounts traced to Cyprus, Denmark, USA and the Bahamas.”

This is the kleptocracy in which Nigerian leaders have stolen over $380bn since independence, as the same Ribadu told the BBC in 2006.  Yet, that Alamieyeseigha, like others, has been pardoned by your government.  This is why we will never get real answers by putting your “independent” audit in the hands of a pre-programmed Abuja panel.

Finally, you bristle at my reference to the issue of the recurrent budget.  You say I have no moral authority to comment on the matter.

So let us talk about moral authority.

Following your negotiations of Nigeria’s foreign with the Paris Club in 2006, Audu Ogbeh, a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman, publicly said that one “top member” of your government had walked away with a personal fee of N60 billion.  I had expected that President Obasanjo or you would be outraged, and challenge the allegation, but nobody ever has.  I would have defended my father’s name.

I repeat my support of your campaign finance proposal, in principle.  But a cafeteria approach to reform never works, and your forensic audit is bound to be eaten alive in the all-purpose impunity and kleptocracy that currently masquerades as governance.  The answer is banging on the front door.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

When Will We Have Our Own Mandela? By Orobosa Toks Ero.


 

That former South African President and the true face of anti-apartheid struggle, Nelson Mandela has left us is a stale story. But the lessons from his life will remain eternal. In our clime for instance, the lessons stare us in the face on a daily basis as the political gladiators conduct themselves in a manner that arouse in us that strong desire and longing for a man of strong character, robust political stature and selfless leader as the Madiba, as he was fondly called. Mandela’s life was inspiring; he was Africa’s great revolutionist and prime human rights activist; he put his people first and self last. He chose to eat the bread of sorrow and drink the water of affliction that his people might live in freedom and prosperity. In our country, the reverse is the case. Here, the poor masses cut their coats according to their cloths, usually inadequate, while our leaders cut theirs according to their bloated sizes. While we tighten our belts due to the harsh economic policies foisted on us, the custodians of our commonwealth stretch theirs to accommodate their rotund frame. The Mandela we knew never did that. He was conscious of the verdict of history.

In the preceding months before his demise, many who had deified the man including members of his family wished that this enigma of a man would never go the way of all mortals. But who would blame them? Nelson Mandela, more than any other African either living or dead, at least in this century, contributed immensely to making his world a much better place than he met it by giving up himself as a sacrificial lamb that his world would know peace, progress and prosperity. Lucky South Africans! Nelson Mandela knew from when he became conscious of his society that he had to do something to free his people from the shackles of oppression and a satanic apartheid system of government, which made one race superior to another, and conferred undue advantage upon the white minority over the black population who were in the majority and owned the land.

For this, he denied himself the comfort the royalty of his birth and a legal practice that afforded him a life of comfort, to join forces with the African National Congress to fight apartheid and its many devils. In the 1960s, he was amongst the first to advocate armed struggle against the obnoxious apartheid regime which according to him, had blatantly refused to hear or listen to the voice of reason, but had continued to unleash and inflict upon his people pain and anguish while depriving them of the fruits of the land.

In 1961, he went underground to form ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (the spear of the nation) under whose umbrella the ANC carried out attacks on government institutions and installations, and in 1963 he was charged with capital offences at the Rivonia Trial. His statement from the dock was his political testimony and a summary of his life-long struggle against oppression and tyranny in South Africa –

“I have cherished the ideals of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in free society, in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Nelson Mandela and his companions were imprisoned for life in 1964 at the Robben Island, and for 27 years; he remained behind bars undeterred, unbroken, and courageously refusing to bow to pressures from his oppressors who applied everything in the books to blur his vision of a free South Africa where all men and women, regardless of race, would live free of worry, fear and deprivation. Rather, he looked the South African Pharaohs eye ball to eye ball and said “Let my people go” that their human dignity might be preserved.

But there was something different about Nelson Mandela – something that stood him out from the crowd of past or nascent leaders in the continent of Africa. Nigeria is not excluded. The polity is under intense heat presently because our politicians have their eyes on the next political dispensation even when they are yet to creditably acquit themselves in the offices they currently hold. The ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the emerging All Progressives Congress, APC, both two sides of the same coin, are flexing political muscles not because they have the interest of the masses at heart, but because they want to capture power to corner the wealth of the nation to satisfy their greed.

Mandela was different. Power, to him, was not a do-or-die affair but service to the people. To him, it was not an inheritance neither was it a reward for his 27 tortuous years in prison. He presented himself as a lamb for sacrifice that his people may enjoy lasting peace, freedom and prosperity in the land which even though rightly belongs to them, yet were enslaved by foreign conquerors. Can it happen in Nigeria? In not too distant past, we had a president who had ruled for almost 4 years as a military officer and spent two terms of eight years in office as a civilian and before the end of that tenure, was scheming for a third term!

There are lessons in selflessness our leaders and our politicians and others who aspire to lead us, must learn. Mandela was not an opportunist. He was also not without hope of a great future. He had the benefit of a good education and royalty. But for the love of humanity and his people, this global citizen gave up everything that was dear to him – his family, children and the companionship of a pretty wife, Winnie, for the struggle. And in the process, he abdicated his responsibilities as a father and husband and more importantly, he gave up a thriving legal practice thus putting paid to a future of assured bliss and comfort in his chosen career. This is an example in selfless leadership not seen in these parts.

Nelson Mandela can truly be said to be a metaphor for courage which is in short supply in our clime.  He looked at fear straight in the eye and never blinked first.

One thing that marked Nelson Mandela out amongst mere mortals was that he had a heart that forgave. This is absolutely remarkable. Indeed, many still wonder what manner of man he was. For a man who was deliberately subjected to so much humiliation, deprivation and pain to, after 27 long years, come out and embrace his jailors, without any show of bitterness, to many, was out of this world! It was simply unimaginable that he would tell his traducers “go and sin no more” or better still: “Father, I forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing”, when he was in a position to take his pound of flesh. But in his humility and large-heartedness, he said in retrospect: “as I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”. Can you beat that?

In our own dear country, an Abacha will send you to jail on a phantom coup plot; an Obasanjo will haul corruption allegations at you and send the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, after you, while a President Jonathan will rake up enough trouble to keep you busy. Yet, regardless of these enigmatic qualities, Nelson Mandela was mortal and so he has gone the way of mortals. He had his own foibles and downtimes, and as he said: “do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”. But he conquered the world.

The lessons from Nelson Mandela’s life are very clear – as leaders and followers, we must learn to make a sacrifice for a good and noble cause; we must be courageous in confronting evil even at the expense of our freedom, our lives, comfort and personal dignities. We must conquer fear because as one-time American President, F.D Roosevelt posited, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. And we must learn to forgive because to forgive is not just divine but puts you at peace with the world and at the end of the day, you are the ultimate winner in any battle. All the eulogies and accolades on Mandela were therefore not misplaced.

Now, back to the question “When will we have our own Mandela?” It looks to me a tall dream. Or what do you think?

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Nigeria Recycles Criminals: Ex- Gov. Muazu, accused of stealing N19.8 billions, is the new PDP chairman.


 

Adamu Muazu

Barring any last-minute change in plan,  the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will, at its National  Executive Committee meeting on Monday (today), ratify a former governor  of Bauchi state, Adamu Muazu, as its new national chairman, party and  presidency sources have said.The usually reliable sources told  PREMIUM TIMES early Monday morning that Mr. Muazu emerged the consensus  candidate for the job after a rash of meetings involving President  Goodluck Jonathan, PDP governors and other influential chieftains of the  party, including Vice President Namadi Sambo and President of the  Senate, David Mark.Mr. Muazu, who will now replace Bamanga  Tukur, who was forced out of office Thursday, emerged ahead of Minister  of Transport, Idris Umar, a former Minister of Commerce, Idris Waziri,  former Acting National Secretary of the party, Musa Babayo, a former  party spokesperson, Ahmed Rufai Alkali   and a former minister of the  Federal Capital Territory, Ibrahim Bunu, who were all widely reported to  have jostled for the position.A party source familiar with the  maneuverings and negotiations that threw up Mr. Muazu said President  Jonathan actually preferred Minister Umar for the position but was  outfoxed by governors from the North-East geopolitical zone who all  rooted for Mr. Muazu.When Mr. Jonathan tried to insist on Mr.  Umar, insiders say, the North-East governors reminded him of how they  deferred to him two years ago when he insisted on Mr. Tukur for the  position in spite of massive opposition from the zone.Our sources said Bayelsa state governor,  Seriake Dickson, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, and President  of the Senate, Mr. Mark, joined the North-East governors in pushing that  position.They reportedly warned the president  against foisting an unpopular candidate on party members to avoid a  repeat of the Tukur situation where the party was perpetually  in crisis  throughout his reign.Mr. Muazu, 55, was among candidates who contested for the PDP chairman position in March 2012.In a zonal congress election conducted  by the North-East PDP in Bauchi to choose a consensus candidate for the  zone at the time, Mr. Muazu got only one vote to place last.Mr. Babayo got 14 votes  to defeat other  contenders. Mr. Tukur, who was clearly the president’s anointed  candidate for the position at the time, got four votes.Former Ministers Bunu and Shettima Mustapha scored 2 votes each while Mr. Alkali , just like Mr. Muazu, scored only one vote.Mr. Muazu and corruptionIn November 2013, President Jonathan appointed the former Bauchi governor chairman of the Nigerian Pension Commission, PENCOM.He was appointed to the position even  though he is still being investigated for graft by the Economic and  Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly looting N19.8billion  belonging to his state while he was governor between 1999 and 2007.The former governor has consistently denied any wrongdoing but he is yet to be cleared of the allegation.

The civic group, Transition Monitoring  Group, protested the appointment at the time, saying it was morally  wrong for the president to appoint a man being tried for corruption to  such a high office.Mr. Jonathan and the National Assembly disregarded that position and proceeded to clear the former governor for the position.The TMG statement at the time reads in  part, “The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, is astonished and peeved by  this move of the President, especially in the light of the fact that  the former Governor is yet to be cleared by the Economics and Financial  Crimes Commission, EFCC, of the corruption charges he is facing for  allegedly defrauding the coffers of Bauchi State to the tune of  N19.8billion when he was Governor of the State,” the group said in a  statement on Monday.“This and other similar acts of Mr.  President, particularly his penchant for surrounding himself with famed  corrupt individuals, makes his government’s so-called anti-corruption  efforts a laughing stock, for it is patently obvious from his  antecedents that President Jonathan endorses corruption.“The EFCC is investigating Mr. Mu’azu  for allegedly stealing billions of naira belonging to Bauchi State  during his term as governor between 1999 and 2007.Other names forwarded  to the Senate for confirmation as Commissioners of PENCOM include  Chinelo Anohu-Amazu (South East), Reuben Omotowa (North Central),  Mohammed Ka’oje (North West), and Adesojo Olaoba-Efuntayo (South  West).But the group said that appointing Mr. Mu’azu to head the  commission is in line with his practice of shielding corrupt  individuals.“TMG recalls that in the heat of the  corruption charges against the same Mu’azu Adamu, President Jonathan  appointed him in 2011 as Chairman of the Board of Nigerian Maritime  Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA),” said the statement signed by  Ibrahim Zikirullahi and Eddy Ezurike, the group’s Chairman and  Publicity Secretary respectively.“It was with the President’s nod that  Business Mogul, Mike Adenuga and his wife, Titi Adenuga in late 2010  walked free from the EFCC charges they were facing for reportedly  collecting bribes from Siemens officials; and it was this same attitude  of Presidential Romance with alleged corrupt individuals that enabled  controversial Lawyer, Dele Oye to walk scot free from EFCC charges of  allegedly acting as front for the defunct Oceanic Bank CEO, Cecilia  Ibru; and aiding her to loot tens of billions of Naira in Bank assets.“The Nigerian people of course will not  forget in a hurry how this same President granted presidential pardon to  a notorious convicted corrupt former Governor and his kinsman, DSP  Alamieyeseigha, and other criminals, including a paedophile.“Those who recently looted the Police  Pensions Board, including its former Director are yet to be brought to  book. The list is endless; yet Jonathan’s regime talks about fight  against corruption. The attitude of Mr. President in recycling corrupt  individuals in public places is worrisome and does not inspire  confidence at all.“In fact, on issue after issue, he has  shown that he will never combat corruption but will rather aid, abet and  shield corrupt officials.“The group called on President Jonathan  to withdraw, immediately, Mr. Mu’azu’s nomination and take “creative  steps” to rebuild confidence and imbue confidence in the anti-corruption  war.“This is the only pathway to redemption, prosperity and development in this country.”

Source: Radio Biafra.

Kano Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Expresses Disappointment And Surprise At Arrest Of Top Officials of State Legislature.


The government of Kano State has expressed “utter disappointment and surprise” with Monday’s arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Gambo Sallau, and other principal officers and Clerk.

A statement by Halilu Ibrahim Dantiye, the Director of Press and Public Relations to Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, stated that the officials were apparently arrested in connection with the government’s 2013 budget amendment, which the governor has already signed into law.

“It is crystal clear that the above mentioned public officials were arrested by the EFCC on the orders from the above, because of the legislators’ defection to APC, in support of Governor Kwankwaso,” the statement said.  It stated that the officials were only exercising their constitutional responsibilities of ensuring that budgets are properly articulated to ensure probity and accountability in public expenditure and enable the citizens enjoy the dividends of democracy.

“This action is obviously to intimidate and cow them into submission for choosing to move to the progressive fold,” the government said. “This action is not only despicable and absurd but also capable of igniting crisis in the polity, thereby breaching the relative peace that is being enjoyed in Kano state.  It is regrettable that the EFCC is allowing itself to be a tool of witch-hunt in the hands of powers that be.”

The statement confirmed that in addition to Alhani Sallau, also arrested were the Deputy Speaker, Isyaku Ali Danja, the Chief Whip, the Deputy Chief Whip, the Majority Leader and the Deputy Majority Leader.

The Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, and the Clerk of the House were also arrested.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

EFCC Arrests Speaker of Kano House of Assembly, 11 Others.


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today arrested the Speaker and 10 other Principal officers of the Kano House of Assembly on yet undisclosed charges.

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwajaren, confirmed that those in custody include the Speaker, Gambo Sallau; the Majority Leader, Hamisu Ibrahim; and the Clerk of the House, Lawan Badamasi Gezawa and nine others.

He said the arrests have no political undertone, but simply followed a petition by a stakeholder in the state who alleged that Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s supplementary budget was meant to cover-up a dubious transaction.

The governor had sent a budget review request to the State Assembly to the value of 24billion Naira, but he suddenly withdrew that request and replaced it with an even larger one of 28billion Naira.

Financial experts raised an alarm over such a stupendous budget review at a time that the financial year has almost ended, describing it as most unusual in the country.

When a team of journalists visited the EFCC Kano State office, they saw the Clerk of the House, Mallam Lawan Badamasi Gezawa, being escorted into the premises, trailed by heavily armed mobile policemen.

Immediately after that, two three EFCC Coaster buses filled up with the legislators cruised out toward the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport enroute Abuja, escorted by EFCC officials and other armed security operatives.

Eyewitness revealed that as early as 7am, heavily armed police vehicles were stationed in the House of Assembly premises along with over 20 policemen in uniform and mufti in readiness for the arrests when the members of the House arrived for legislative business.

Mr. Uwujaren said the Commission was performing its statutory role as enshrined in the Constitution after receiving the petition.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

EFCC ‘Not Broke,’ EFCC Now Says.


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has denied newspaper reports that it is broke and has less than N2million in its corporate coffers.

In a statement, the EFCC described the comment, reportedly made by the Secretary to the Commission, Mr Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo, when he led a delegation to the public hearing by the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes on the Bill to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency, as a gross misrepresentation of what actually transpired.

“The mention of N2million by Aremo was not in respect of the total financial health of the EFCC, but a direct response to a remark by the Chair of the Committee, Senator Victor Lar, to the effect that his committee had observed during an oversight visit to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU that it has no power generating set while its ceiling had caved in,” the statement said.

It added that Mr. Aremo remarked that the Commission had complained to the Committee during the visit on the state of its finances and that the situation has not improved.

“The comment has no bearing whatsoever on the operations of the Commission,” the statement concluded.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

EFCC Uncovers How Former Head Of Service, Oronsaye, Others Allegedly Stole N6 Billion-PREMIUM TIMES.


By Ben Ezemalu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has uncovered how Steve Oronsaye, a former Head of Service, and other top directors of the Nigerian civil service colluded to allegedly defraud the nation of N6.2 billion pension fund.

The fund, allegedly stolen through a maze of bogus contracts, was meant for biometric enrollment and payment for computer accessories that were never supplied, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.

Mr. Oronsaye, 63, was appointed the Head of the Nigerian Civil Service in 2009.
According to a reliable source in the EFCC, between 2009 and 2010, almost N6 billion in fake contracts were awarded and paid for under Mr. Oronsaye’s supervision.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Oronsaye was invited by the anti-graft commission to answer questions relating to the multi billion naira pension fund.
Mr. Oronsaye wouldn’t comment for this story. When PREMIUM TIMES contacted him on Sunday, the former head of service said he was in a meeting.
He did not grant our request for him to return our call after his meeting. He also did not respond to a text message sent to him.
The fraud
According to the EFCC, Innovative Solutions and Project Limited, a company allegedly handpicked by Mr. Oronsaye, received a contract of N63 million for biometric data capture. The contract, however, served as a conduit through which three individuals and five companies got N705,368,245.
Other companies which had no contract to participate in the biometric data capture exercise but were paid include Frederick Hamilton Global Limited, who received N119,398,500; Xangee Technologies got N153,146,719; Fatidek Venture received N30,056,000; while Obanlado Enterprises was paid N96,765,400.00.

During its investigations, the EFCC uncovered how Phina Chidi, a deputy director in the Pension Account at the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, OHCSF, who had given a written statement to the commission in January, 2011, disclosed to the agency how she was made to shop for companies that would execute contracts and make returns to Mr. Oronsaye.

“I was asked by Dr. Shuaibu (Teildi Shuaibu, director, Pension Account) to shop for company names to execute our contracts, proceeds of which should be given to Mr. Stephen Oronsaye  the then Head of Service,” Mrs. Chidi said in her latest statement.
Mrs. Chidi also detailed how the proceeds of such deals were kept in the accounts of two banks before Mr. Shuaibu helped to transfer them to Mr. Oronsaye.

Individuals who benefitted from the string of payments, allegedly made on the eve of Mr. Oronsaye’s retirement as Head of Service, include Kate Chinwe Obiekwe, Ibrahim Abdulkarim and Mohammed Abdullahi Ahmed who were paid N56,612,585.00, N80,108,640.00 and N23,760.00 respectively.
The trio, who are officials of the OHCSF pension, received the “collective allowance” – allowances paid out to an officer of the OHCSF for distribution to other staff who are supposedly meant to be on a trip, contrary to Federal Government directives on e-payment.

Others who also benefited from the payments include Innovative Solutions and Project Limited and Vivians Ebony Nigeria Enterprise.
The former is said to have a N63 million worth of contract with the Office of the Head of Service but its emergence as the preferred contractor is in breach of the procurement process since the contact for the biometric exercise was not advertised. Also, a Certificate of no-objection was not obtained by the office of the Head of Service from the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, although Mr. Oronsaye allegedly indicated in his statement before the EFCC that he made an informal request to the BPP about the process involved.

Apart from breaching the procurement process, the contract awarded to Innovative Solutions and Project Limited was also fraught with a series of irregular and inflated payments made to the company, according to the EFCC.

Robert Ikhaziboh, the Chief Executive of the company, admitted to EFCC investigators that he was instructed by one Osarenkhoe Afe, an IT consultant and nominee of Mr. Oronsaye as member of the Pension Reform Committee, to work with two companies – Upstrach Communication and Federick Hamilton Global Limited – with specific instructions on the amount to pay the companies whenever he received payment.

When questioned by the EFCC, Mr. Afe stated that Frederick Hamilton was paid N289.05 million for its contract, out of which he got N35 million and Mr. Oronsaye received N250 million through third parties. Mr. Afe stated that he was willing to make a refund.

Under questioning by the EFCC on December 7, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, Mr. Oronsaye claimed ignorance of some of the companies that had received bogus payments and had been traced back to him.

Mr. Oronsaye also claimed ignorance of Xangee Technologies, Fatidek Ventures and Obalano Enterprises and said he never approved any payment to them.

However, when provided with evidence of payment to these companies, Mr. Oronsaye.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

EFCC, Unhappy With El-Rufai Acquittal, To File Appeal.


 

By Saharareporters, New York

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), has decided that it will pursue an appeal in a higher court against last week’s decision of a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja which acquitted a former Minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
In a statement, the commission expressed dismay at two separate court losses it suffered last Friday, the other being the Supreme Court acquittal of the former Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Chief Olabode Goerge and five others.

“Without going into the merit or otherwise of the Supreme court ruling, it is unfortunate that the apex court disagreed with the decision of the two lower courts—the Lagos High Court and the Court of Appeal—which upheld the conviction of the accused persons based on the evidence presented by the Commission,” the statement said.

“While this turn of event is saddening, the Commission as a law abiding institution always respected judicial pronouncements and this will be no different.”

It described the decision of Justice Sadiq Umar that the Commission failed to establish a prima facie case against El-Rufai as being “against the weight of the evidence” it had presented to the court.

Tambuwal’s blame of Jonathan an attempt to mask incompetency to anti-graft battle.


Tambuwal

In the buck passing in regard to the public concern about the growing spate of corruption in the country and failure of the dispensation to battle the scourge, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, blame the Jonathan administration for the irredeemable turn corruption has taken. He thinks that the fight against official graft has lost momentum due largely to the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan would rather set up committees to investigate corruption cases than refer them to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission—EFCC— for prompt action.He forgets to mention that there are several cases of corruption allegations referred to the Lamorde-led EFCC that have not seen the light of day. He forgets also to mention that the EFCC lawyers were whacking up cases referred to the commission, until some of them were found out and sacked. All the corruption cases investigated by the House Committees including those involving Hon. Farouk Lawan and Herman Hembe, to mention a few, that are yet to be satisfactorily and effectively disposed off are presumed to be Jonathan’s fault. Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, was chased about like a common criminal right from the day he left office by the EFCC. What has become of the corruption case involving him? Perhaps, President Jonathan prevailed on the EFCC and the courts to drop all charges against Mr. Bankole. What about the rot in the judiciary—about allegations that some multi-million naira assets and fat bank accounts have been traced to some judges of the courts? What about allegations that members of the House do collect bribes from agencies of state to pass legislations, such as police budget and the Securities Exchange Commission’s Act, for instance? Are all these episodes of unresolved corruption issues to be blamed on the Executive arm of government headed by the Presidency?What about issues of criminal legislations initiated by the House of Reps under the leadership of Hon. Tambuwal, such as the ongoing attempt by the House to pass a bill authorizing members to operate foreign bank accounts; a move that has been described as a legislative strategy to legitimize money laundering? Is this also the fault of President Jonathan? Where and to whom will Aminu Tambuwal pass the buck of the corruption episodes in the legislature?What discerning minds have come to appreciate is not that Jonathan as President should usurp the powers and functions of agencies and organs of government in the bid to stamp out corruption from the body politic, but that incremental wrong doings overtime with an entrenched culture of impunity nurtured and nourished by the military has made corruption, in our time, to spiral out of control.

The Jonathan dispensation, it has been contended, merely created the libertine ambience for corrupt practices to be fully exposed, as never before when Heads of State used to cover up for their cronies and protégés and allow only enemies who fall foul of the law to face the full wrath of the anti-graft agencies. What can be stated unambiguously is that the Jonathan government allowed corrupt practices to be fully exposed.Nigerians, today, have a long list of corrupt people in the corridor of power including the legislature and the judiciary as well as the financial services sector. Let Tambuwal and the defecting governors not be deceived that they can escape the wrath of the people when the bubble burst on the strength of their capacity to pass the buck to Goodluck Jonathan. Everybody, including past heads of state, is blaming the President for all the woes and corruption problems inundating the country. People who should know better, who are themselves part of the network of corruption, are creating the wrong impression that if all the blames for failure of the anti-graft war were heaped upon the President, they would be spared the anger of the people in the likely event of civil rebellion.Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State once warned that the way the political class is running the affairs of the country, they may not receive the support of the people if democracy in the country comes under threat. When Oshiomhole spoke, he never made excuses for himself. He was lamenting the deficit of credible political practice by the state actors—their lack of integrity, their corruption and profligacy, and their general inability to deliver service to the people.My point is not that the President should be spared where and when he errs. My point is that the buck passing going on now, as if the affairs of state are the sole responsibility of Goodluck Jonathan, is in bad faith. Aminu Tambuwal should not delude himself that Nigerians have a high opinion of the House of Reps which he superintends. Corruption issues are glossed over in the legislature as it is treated with a dignified nonchalance by the other arms of government.Tambuwal should be honest and tell the world the truth about corruption episodes in the country—that corruption is defended and protected on the platform of ethnicity. That is why no head of state has been able to deal with it frontally. General Murtala Mohammed who tried to deal with corruption issues in the military and the civil service constructively, did not quite understand the trajectory and networking of corruption, and did not know what hit him in the process.Corruption issues can be uprooted in the country mainly by taking the battle away from the centre to the federating units through devolution of power and fiscal federalism, the way it was at the birth and early days of nationhood. Smash the centre and give economic power to the zonal or regional power blocks and corruption battle will shift from the centre to the component units, where the dead would have to bury the dead until kinsmen can shout “enough is enough” and tell themselves to stop killing one another and use the commonwealth for the development of the fatherland for the benefit and happiness of all.Tambuwal should work for a decentralized Nigeria, a fiscal federal structure, a country where the people and their sensibilities, rather than the whims and narrow self-interest of the few who happen to be in control, dictate and drive state affairs. That is the time any head of state can launch a serious offensive against corruption.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Tambuwal’s Game of Stone Throwing By Ochuko Ekpekurede.


By Ochuko Ekpekurede

For a performance in the midst of his learned colleagues at the Nigerian Bar Association anti-corruption lecture on Monday December 9 in Abuja, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal of the House Representative deserves a trophy in populism. His note was familiar and his view spot on. That is, if you are a common Nigerian who is displeased with the system especially the fight against corruption.

Tambuwal who has been flirting with the opposition APC while pleading his fidelity before the leadership of his party, came out smoking against President Goodluck Jonathan, carpeting him for making nonsense of the fight against corruption by shielding his harem of female ministers from the searchlight of the anti graft agencies. As far as he is concerned, Jonathan has become the stumbling block in the fight against corruption.

Tambuwal deserves some attention if not accolade for the courage to vent out the frustration of some Nigerians who could not understand the wisdom behind some of President Jonathan’s actions. I am one of those who can not fathom the logic in Jonathan’s decision to burden the office of the national security adviser with the investigation of what the media has dubbed Oduahgate. Why did he not mandate the anti-graft agencies to investigate the alleged fraud, if not that he were working to an answer? “In some cases, you have the government setting up new committees to duplicate the job already done by the parliament. Take the bullet proof cars case, the NSA, with all the security challenges confronting the country, should not be burdened with a job that can best be handled by the anti-corruption agencies,” said Tambuwal.

Interestingly, the time frame for the inquiry has since lapsed and nothing has been heard; which makes the whole affair disquieting. Meanwhile Stella Oduah sits pretty as cabinet minister praying that, over time, Nigerians would forget about her alleged thievery.

Nevertheless, Tambuwal’s attack on Jonathan, just like the JTF onslaught on Boko Haram came with some collateral damage. The EFCC, the nation’s more famous anti- graft agency was caught in the cross fire. Wondering why the President will over look the EFCC in setting up a committee to investigate Oduah, Mr. Speaker expressed reservation at the conduct of the anti-graft agency. But the accusation of corruption which he hauled at the agency appears rather hash in view of the fact that there were no supporting facts beyond his frustration that the EFCC failed to follow leads in the investigative reports by some Committees of the House. He listed the report of Herman Hembe Committee which investigated the Capital Market and the Farouk Lawan Committee that probed the monumental fraud in fuel subsidy regime.

Tambuwal believes the EFCC left Aruma Oteh, Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC and went after Herman Hembe and his deputy, Feanyi Azubuogu. He also claims the anti- graft body abandoned the Farouk Lawan report but embraced the Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede report. This seems to me like an attempt to deodorize the House of Reps while making the EFCC the fall guy.

For whatever it is worth, I think the leadership of the House should be grateful to the EFCC for restoring its integrity by prosecuting Hembe and his deputy. Even though the allegations by Oteh remained unproved, their action was reprehensible and left a tar on the image of the assembly. And it does not speak well of Mr. Speaker to come to the defence of suspects under trial. If they are innocent let the court be the judge. I don’t think Tambuwal reflected on the comments. If he did, he probably would have acted differently. His comment on Hembe portrayed him as someone who is cross with the EFCC for the having the courage to prosecute members of the National Assembly, while sparing the other person from the executive branch alleged by the House of Reps to have also committed a wrong. “When we commenced investigation into the matter, what became of paramount importance to the EFCC was allegation that one of our members collected money as estacode to travel but failed to do so”, he said. Does it mean that Mr. Speaker is comfortable that members of the House will collect estacode in public fund and fail to make the trip for which the money was paid?

If Oteh has done anything wrong and the EFCC failed to act, it should be condemned but I can’t see where the agency misfired in prosecuting Hembe and Azubuogu for collecting estacode and failing to make the trip.

Perhaps Tambuwal, from his vantage position could be privy to the EFCC investigation report to warrant his outrage.  Otherwise, it is baseless. It doesn’t seem logical to me for both Hembe and Oteh to face prosecution at the same time, for what offence? I strongly believe that there must be reasons from the EFCC investigation that recommended Hembe and his deputy for prosecution.

I also don’t agree with Tambuwal’s conclusion that the EFCC ignored the Farouk Lawan report in preference for Imoukhuede’s. Has Tambuwal reflected on whether Nigerians care about which report forms the basis of investigation by law enforcement agencies? What is important to Nigerians and those who love this country, is that people are punished for wrong doing. At least it was refreshing seeing children of leaders of the ruling People Democratic Party, PDP being arraigned for defrauding the Nigerian Government in bogus subsidy claims. I don’t have the numbers but I know for a fact that not less than 40 suspects are under trial for subsidy related offences. An equal number of suspects, including directors and permanent secretaries, are also being tried by the EFCC for pension malpractices. In deed, a conviction was achieved early this year in John Yusufu who unfortunately got a crooked slap on the wrist from Justice Abubakar Talba.

I am disturbed by this Tambuwal’s out burst which a friend of mine described as holier- than- thou attitude. I honestly do not know how valuable a report of a Committee whose former chairman was entangled with a corruption scandal with an oil magnate over bribery allegations would be to any law enforcement agency. If Tambuwal must be honest to himself and Nigerians, he must concede that the House of Representatives and its Committees suffer serious integrity deficit as not a single investigation by that chamber has been free from corruption allegations. Some of us have not forgotten how Ndudi Elumelu crisscrossed the length and breadth of the country, upbraided power contractors for corruption only for him to be entangled in the mess. What about Farouk Lawan? Mr. Integrity is in court battling to clear his name of the allegation of demanding bribes in US Dollars from Femi Otedola, What of Hembe and Azubuogu?

I think Tambuwal should leave Nigerians to determine which institution is corrupt. Some of us who work with development organisations are familiar with the procedure for grant awards and I am surprised  our Honourable Speaker will accused the EFCC of being corrupt because it does not account to the National Assembly for donor funds! Have the donors complained to the National Assembly that the EFCC misused their fund?  Should the EFCC be accountable to the National Assembly for funds not appropriated by it?

I believe Tambuwal has opened a Pandora box which should ultimately strengthen our anti corruption organisations. I am curious that the EFCC that is said to be broke is the same one that is misusing donor funds. How? Tambuwal did not elaborate. I think the EFCC has a lot of education on her hands, for our law makers to understand the procedures for donor funds administration. I say so because I know for a fact that donor support, contrary to the view that some of us in this part of the world have, does not come cheap. They are offered on very stringent conditions. Most are project based and often, officials of the awarding organisations are on ground to monitor the use of the funds.

The irony of this charge from Tambuwal is that he is prepared to hold other agencies to a standard which himself is not prepared to uphold. Nigerians have shouted themselves hoarse, calling for members of the National Assembly to disclose the allowances that they awarded to themselves. Till this moment, Tambuwal and other principal officers have been silent. Yet it is common knowledge that Nigerian law makers are the highest paid in the world, the bulk of the earnings gratuitously self- awarded. Or is it the gambit to dash Tambuwal and other principal officers pension for life for serving a minimum term of four year at the National Assembly!
Ekpekurede, Development Expert lives in Abuja

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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