Buoyed up by the resolve of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to pursue and recover stolen public funds, the two anti-corruption agencies — Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission — step up investigation and prosecution of corrupt current and former public officers.
By Osaze Omoragbon
It’s Judgement Day for yesterday’s men of might and means. Until the advent of President Muhammadu Buhari, the most privileged and brazen among them ran Nigeria’s public sector like a dysfunctional private conglomerate and treated the national coffers like the ubiquitous automated teller machines (ATMs) flung and scattered across the country.
Emboldened by the new administration’s resolve to pursue and recover stolen public funds and President Buhari’s go-get-them order, the hitherto comatose Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its twin, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) are swatting suspected treasury looters like houseflies.
The list of suspects reads like a “who-is-who” in Nigeria’s beleaguered public service in the last administration. Star-suspect Sambo Dasuki, immediate past National Security Adviser accused of mismanaging $2.1billion meant for arms purchase has opened a Pandora’s Box which has tainted serving and former military personnel and public servants as well as chieftains of political parties. Political bigwigs, Chief Tony Anenih, Adamu Mu’azu and Haliru Bello Mohammed, former BoT chairmen of the PDP, the EFCC says, are alleged key figures in the distribution of what became a slush fund used for prosecuting the 2015 general elections and enriching private pockets.
Others who were said to be party to the sharing of the arms funds are media owner, Raymond Dokpesi, founder of DAAR Communications Plc, owners of AIT and Raypower, docked for alleged laundering of N2.1billion which he claimed was payment for media ads he ran for the PDP presidential campaign office, and Nduka Obaigbena, Publisher of Thisday Newspapers who is accused of receiving N670million from the ex-NSA allegedly as compensation for terrorist bombing of his Abuja business premises. Obaigbena is reported to have returned N350 million as part of the funds he allegedly got.
Former Chief of Defence Staff Alex Badeh is being queried for alleged phoney arms contracts worth about $930 million while Adesola Amosu, former Chief of Air Staff is explaining to the EFCC his alleged involvement in fraudulent award of contract to the tune of N29billion between 2014 and 2015. Dasukigate, as the arms scandal is now known, is just one of the grand scams the anti-corruption agencies are tracking. (See Box 1).
For these once powerful men, the era of impunity has come to an end, the new EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu says. Magu is leading a resurgent EFCC busy with investigations into a miscellany of financial malfeasance. (See box 2). Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN) who has strengthened the anti-graft agencies in the fight against corruption recently revealed that the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies have recovered huge looted funds running into billions of dollars in the past 12 years. These monies have been recovered from politically-exposed persons, fraudsters and criminals of all stripes including kidnappers, oil thieves and human traffickers (see Box 3).
The ICPC is also actively at work. It recently arrested four Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) officials for allegedly mismanaging N500million and abuse of office. Some of the recently disengaged DGs and heads of parastatals are being investigated for alleged misappropriation of funds. The ICPC, it is reported, is gearing up to query some permanent secretaries for padding the 2016 budget to the President’s embarrassment.
Mr Ekpo Nta, ICPC Chairman is delighted that based on the anti-corruption disposition of the Buhari administration, the ongoing anti-graft war is heading in the right direction.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) is also on the heels of past public officials who fraudulently acquired properties with public funds while in office. Most prominent is Senate President Bukola Saraki who has been docked on a 13-count-criminal charge for alleged false declaration of assets during his tenure as governor of Kwara State, and Godsday Orubebe, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. Many governors too are facing probe.
Digging up corpses
The renewed war on corruption has been likened to the battle to rescue the soul of the country from the clutches of evil. Nigerians are being regaled with mind-boggling sums stolen by politicians and public servants who at the height of power and giddy with false sense of impunity threw caution to the wind.
In the spirit of the times, the EFCC has exhumed the corpse of the Halliburton scam which was swept under the carpet during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
Commentators and civil society activists would not let privileged Nigerians indicted in the $200 million bribe scandal (paid to secure LNG contracts) off the hook and are calling for some pound of flesh. They question the obviously unfair out-of-court settlements that left a few Nigerian lawyers with a hefty fee of $26 million at the nation’s expense.
Concerned citizens demand that J.B. Dauda, Damian Dodo, Emmanuel Okala, Godwin Obla and Rowland Ewubare and a few others be made to explain their alleged roles in the stilted plea-bargain that short-changed Nigeria and left public officials to sneak away with their loot. They are particularly outraged that the United States’ government got hundreds of millions in dollars as fines from indicted companies after throwing its own culpable citizens in jail while Nigeria, regrettably, seems to have patted its own criminals on the head. The EFCC believes that justice has not been served and in Magu’s words, the agency “is probing the role of all past and present public officers involved in the deal.”
Rural electrification scam
Another corruption case still pending at the Federal High Court in Abuja is the N5.2 billion Rural Electrification Fund scam. Engineer Samuel Ibi Gekpe and six other senior officials of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) (Dr Abdullahi Aliyu, Simon Kirdi Nanle, Engr. Lawrence Kayode Orekoya, Abdulsamad Garba Jahun, and Barrister Kayode Oyedeji) are alleged to have fraudulently awarded contracts to themselves via shell companies.
None of the companies, allegedly, were on the list of pre-qualified bidders forwarded by the Ministry of Power nor did they respond to the projects advertisement in any of the national dailies as required by the Public Procurement Act, 2007. One Miss Uduak Israel Akpan reportedly signed the contract documents and allegedly collected cheques on behalf of nine of the shell companies.
The nine companies, which have most of their offices in Asaba, Delta State and with the same telephone number on their letter-head papers, were alleged to have been awarded 21 out of 45 contracts to the tune of N842,272,200.00 (Eight hundred and forty two million, two hundred and seventy two thousand, two hundred naira only), out of a total of N1,624,164,660.00 (One billion, six hundred and twenty four million, one hundred and sixty four thousand naira, six hundred and sixty kobo.) earmarked for the contracts.
When former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi blew the whistle on a missing $20billion in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC’s) account, many thought he was merely playing to the gallery. However, since the revelation of the $2.1billion arms scandal and the confessions of some of the dramatis personae, even the most sceptical Nigerians are having a rethink. The general or popular opinion now favours President Buhari’s uncompromising stance on recovering stolen national wealth and the prosecution of indicted persons.
Sources informed TheEconomy that the EFCC is currently digging into allegations of corruption against some former top officials of the NNPC. Preliminary findings by the investigative authorities indicate that some erstwhile General Managers, Executive Directors and Group Managing Directors of the corporation who are living in stupendous wealth may be arrested and prosecuted. Even the Code of Conduct Tribunal is putting finishing touches to the files of these future guests of the anti-graft agencies.
Cases under EFCC’s probe
Col. Sambo Dasuki
Born on December 2, 1954, Sambo Dasuki is a retired Army Colonel and former National Security Adviser (NSA) to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. He was appointed NSA on June 22, 2012 following the removal of General Owoye Andrew Azazi. Dasuki is at the centre of the ongoing investigation into the alleged squandered $2.1billion budgeted for arms purchase. Allegedly the main culprit in the scandal, he has the dubious honour of having the entire sordid affair named after him: Dasukigate, after the Watergate scandal that removed US President Richard Nixon in 1974. For allegedly sharing and laundering the $2.1billion budgeted for arms as a slush fund for the 2015 general election, Dasuki and others are facing a 19-count charge bordering on money laundering and criminal breach of trust. The former NSA is also facing charges for alleged illegal possession of firearms by the DSS.
The former Chief of Defence Staff was quizzed by the EFCC recently to shed light on some contracts awarded under his leadership of the military. Yet to be arraigned, Badeh was grilled over the $930 million contracts he allegedly awarded as chief of defence staff. Under his leadership, Boko Haram insurgents dealt severe blow to the Nigerian Armed Forces partly due to the superior firepower of the terrorists.
Several other serving military personnel especially in the Air Force have also been invited by the EFCC to explain their alleged part in the $2.1billion arms procurement scandal. They include: the serving Chief of Air Staff M.D Umar; Air Vice Marshal (AVM) O.T. Oguntoyinbo; AVM R.A. Ojuawo; AVM J.B Adigun, former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting; AVM J.A Kayode-Beckley, Director of Armament Research; AVM T. Omenyi, Managing Director, NAF Holdings and four top officials from the Defence Headquarters — Air Commodore A.O Ogunjobi; Air Commodore G.M.D Gwani; Air Commodore S.O Makinde; and Air Commodore A.Y Lassa.
Military chiefs are at pains to give details of how 10 contracts totalling $930,500,690.00 were allegedly awarded and why payment of N4,402,687,569.41 have been made for unexecuted contracts; why two used Mi-24V helicopters have been procured instead of the recommended Mi-35M series at $136,944,000.00.
The anti-graft agency also wants the military brass to justify the purchase of four used Alpha-Jets for the NAF at US$7,180,000.00 funded by ONSA; the alleged cannibalisation of engines from NAF fleet to justify procurement of jets; excessive pricing of 36D6 Low Level Air Defence Radar at $33 million instead of $6 million per one; delivery of radars without vital component of Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) that distinguishes between own and adversary aircraft; transfer of $2 million to Mono Marine Corporation Nigeria Limited allegedly owned by some Air Force officers; N15 billion lavished on the maintenance of Alpha-Jets, C-130H aircraft and Mi-24V/35P helicopters.;N2.5billion contracts awarded to Syrius Technologies (Ukrainian company) not registered in Nigeria and award of seven contracts at N599,118,000.00 to the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON). The queries and alleged wrong-doings boggle the mind.
Founder of DAAR Communications Plc Raymond Dokpesi is facing a six-count charge which includes money laundering to the tune of N2.1 billion and criminal breach of public procurement law. He is alleged to have received N2.1billion from Col. Sambo Dasuki. But Dokpesi claimed the money was payment for a legitimate business he did for the PDP. Dokpesi ran damaging commentaries on the leadership of the APC including its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari during the 2015 general elections.
The publisher of Thisday Newspaper was alleged by the EFCC to have collected N670million from the office of the ex-NSA, which he claimed was compensation for the bombing of his business premises in Abuja by Boko Haram terrorists. He was granted administrative bail after he allegedly agreed to refund the money.
The former PDP Publicity Secretary is contesting EFCC’s seven-count charge of corruption, breach of trust, criminal diversion of public funds and money laundering. The charge indicated that Metuh allegedly collected N400million through Destra Investment Ltd from the office of the ex-NSA on behalf of the PDP for campaign purposes. He was also accused of converting part of the money to US$1 million and allegedly diverted same for his personal use while another sum of N21.7million was transferred to another chieftain of the PDP.
Meanwhile, Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court had on February 25 struck out a N100 million suit which Metuh lodged against the EFCC over alleged “gross violation of his fundamental rights” while in detention, and ordered the PDP spokesman to pay six agencies of the Federal Government, including the EFCC N20,000 each. As at press time, the EFCC was set to arraign Metuh on an amended charge to include “obstruction of officers of the EFCC in the performance of their duties” before the FCT High Court.
Former Sokoto State Governor Attahiru Bafarawa along with his son, Sagir and their firm Dalhatu Investments were arraigned on 22 counts of misappropriation of alleged N13billion meant for the purchase of alleged arms by the Office of the NSA. Bafarawa was the governor of Sokoto State between 1999 and 2007.
The former PDP chairman and ex-governor of Bauchi State is reportedly wanted by the EFCC as his whereabouts are unknown. He is accused of being central to the disbursement of money to six PDP chairmen and the party’s contact mobilization committees in the geopolitical zones and other party chieftains during the 2015 general elections. Mu’azu is alleged to have since travelled abroad after he stepped down as chairman immediately after the defeat of the PDP in the presidential election.
Fondly called Mr Fix It by loyalists and associates, the octogenarian former Chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP reportedly admitted to receiving N260million from the Office of the National Security Adviser. Anenih reportedly gave a breakdown of how the money meant for the 2015 general elections was shared. He claimed the money was given to some political big wigs including Tanko Yakassai, who according to Anenih, allegedly got N63million while Chief Olu Falae reportedly got N100million to help market former President Jonathan for the 2015 presidential elections. Rasheed Ladoja, former Governor of Oyo State and a chieftain of the Accord Party allegedly got N100million.
Interestingly, both Falae and Ladoja reportedly admitted collecting N100million each from Anenih following the alliances their parties allegedly entered with the PDP.
Haliru Bello Mohammed
This former chairman of the PDP and his son, Abbah Mohammed were arraigned by the EFCC for their roles in the alleged diversion of funds meant for the procurement of arms. They were docked on a four-count charge of criminal breach of trust and money laundering preferred against them by the EFCC. Abbah Mohammed was alleged to have received N300million from the office of the NSA through his company, BAM Properties.
Ambassador Bashir Yuguda
The EFCC on December 1, 2015 arrested the former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, alongside a number of top officials from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) over the $2.1 billion arms procurement scandal surrounding ex-NSA, Sambo Dasuki. Yuguda allegedly received large chunk of the diverted arms funds (about N1.1 billion) from the embattled former NSA between December 2014 and May 2015, and later reportedly transferred the money to the account of Jabbama Ada Global Services Nigeria Limited to finance the campaign of the PDP in the 2015 general elections.
The embattled former minister is also alleged to have between December 23, 2014 and February 10, 2015 misappropriated $9,809,619 (about N1,950,000) and later transferred the said fund to Jabbama Ada Global Services to be allegedly converted into dollars.
Yuguda later reportedly confessed in a Statement of Witness/Caution which he wrote on oath that he received the funds but disbursed them to the various persons and organizations for the campaign activities of the PDP in the wake of the 2015 general elections. His confessional statement is expected to be part of the proof of evidence to be used by the EFCC against him in the corrupt case before the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.
Former Minister of State for Defence Musiliu Obanikoro is wanted in connection with N1.45bilion payments allegedly made to his companies. The said money which is alleged to be part of the $2.1billion arms budget was funnelled to five companies. Since the loss of the PDP in the 2015 elections and revelation that he allegedly masterminded the rigging of the election that brought Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, Obanikoro has remained incommunicado, presumably in an undisclosed location abroad.
Dr Peter Odili
The former Governor of Rivers State is equally one of the scores of high profile PDP leaders said to be on EFCC’s radar over the alleged diversion and disbursement of the $2.1 billion arms fund. Odili allegedly received N100 million reportedly alongside other zonal party chieftains — Bode George, Ambassador Yerima Abdullahi, Attahiru Bafarawa, Jim Nwobodo and Ahmadu Ali, for the “Contact and Mobilisation Committees” for the election of Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
Although, Odilli and co are yet to be summoned by the EFCC to explain their role in the sharing of the arms fund, there is less possibility that the former governor could get the same ‘sacred cow’ treatment he allegedly enjoyed during the previous PDP regimes over an alleged brazen looting of Rivers State treasury between 2004 and 2007. The former governor secured an unprecedented perpetual injunction against all anti-corruption agencies to steer clear of him. His wife is a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
One-time former governor of old Anambra State, he is one of the key PDP apparatchiks who allegedly shared diverted arms procurement funds for political campaign. Nwobodo allegedly received N500 million for political contacts and mobilization in the south east geopolitical zone. Although, Nwobodo has defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), there are strong indications from the EFCC that he would soon face the anti-graft agency to explain his role in the fund sharing saga.
Alhaji Tanko Yakassai
The prominent northern PDP politician and former political adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Tanko Yakassai found himself on the EFCC probe list following his alleged participation in the controversial disbursement of the arms procurement funds and his alleged pocketing of N63 million for campaign purposes.
Dr Iyorchia Ayu
The name of the former Senate President entered the long list of those the EFCC is investigating following the alleged discovery that he profitted from the controversial arms fund. Although, Ayu reportedly claimed that he collected the sum of N345m from the former National Security Adviser as a consultation fee for services he rendered, it is unclear if he had refunded the money or waiting for the anti-graft agency to pick him up for interrogation.
“When Colonel Sambo Dasuki assumed duty in June 2012, he approached me to assist based on my background as a social scientist and my previous involvement in government. Understandably, I provided the requisite advice whenever consulted on difficult issues,” Ayu reportedly explained.
Brigadier General Jafaru Isa (retired)
The arrest and interrogation of the former military administrator of Kaduna State and a known associate of President Muhammadu Buhari in January over the arms procurement saga became an indication that the new anti-corruption crackdown may not spare any individual.
The embattled ex-General was taken into custody to explain the circumstances in which he allegedly collected about N170 million from Dasuki. He later reportedly refunded N100 million before regaining his freedom with a promise to refund the remaining N70 million in a fortnight. The anti-graft agency has not disclosed whether he has actually fulfilled that refund payment promise or not.
Colonel Ojogbena Adegbe
Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s ex-Aide-De-Camp (ADC), Ojogbena Adegbe was invited for questioning on the alleged disbursement of over N10 billion oil proceeds to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) nomination convention delegates. Adegbe and Waripamowei Dudafa, former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to former President Jonathan allegedly collected $47m and some Euros from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). The money was allegedly diverted by the ONSA from a Signature Bonus Account in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The EFCC believes Dudafa is either in Dubai or somewhere on the Caribbean Islands. The N10billion is believed to have been diverted from oil receipts as follows: USD5.0M (November 14, 2014); $47m (November 27, 2014); Euro 4.0M (December 3, 2014) and Euro 1.6M (December 24, 2014).
The former Director-General of NIMASA was arraigned along with others on a 30-count charge of alleged conversion of the sum of N3.7billion. Witnesses have testified in court on how they helped the ex-NIMASA boss launder alleged stolen funds. A fashion designer shocked Nigerians when he testified that he was reportedly paid N546million for a contract that was not awarded to him or executed by him while another witness testified that he got N900million. Akpolobokemi and others are also standing trial for allegedly diverting N35billion meant for the development of the Maritime University in Delta State.
Former Niger Delta militant and a confidant of ex-President Jonathan, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, is wanted in connection with alleged N45.9billion fraud. He has been declared wanted by the EFCC for alleged conspiracy and illegal diversion of N34billion and N11.9billion belonging to NIMASA. After declining to honour the invitation of the EFCC, a bench warrant for his arrest was issued by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos. Instead of appearing before the judge, Ekpemupolo through his lawyers sought to quash the bench warrant which was summarily dismissed by the judge and the order for his arrest was renewed. He is facing a 40-count charge bordering on money laundering along with others.
Former Chief of Naval Staff and husband of Diezani, erstwhile Petroleum Minister was arrested and quizzed by the EFCC for several hours following alleged discovery of about $600,000 in his personal accounts. He was granted administrative bail while his passport was seized by the EFCC and asked to return at a later date to answer more questions.
A close associate of former Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke and Chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited as well as a director in Seven Energy International Limited, Olajide Omokore has been in the custody of the EFCC where he is being quizzed over controversial approvals allegedly made by the former petroleum minister that benefited his companies.
The former Jigawa State Governor and his two sons — Aminu and Mustapha —are standing trial at an Abuja High Court over alleged money laundering and stealing of public funds to the tune of N1.35 billion. Though Lamido and his sons were initially docked in Kano on July 9, 2015 alongside their alleged accomplice, Wada Abubakar, on a 28-count charge, they were subsequently re-arraigned by the anti-graft agency in Abuja on September 22, with an amended 27-count criminal charge bordering on corruption, money laundering, breach of trust and illegal diversion of public funds.
Lamido is alleged to have abused his position as executive governor of Jigawa State between 2007 and 2015, by allegedly awarding contracts to companies where he had interest, using his two sons as front. He was equally alleged to have collected kickbacks from contractors in the state, with the funds allegedly paid into accounts that were managed by his sons.
Also being tried alongside the Lamidos are four companies allegedly involved in the fraud: Bamaina Holdings Limited, Bamaina Company Nigeria Limited, Bamaina Aluminum Limited and Speeds International Limited.
Senator Ahmed Rufai Sani
The former Zamfara State Governor and a serving senator is facing trial for alleged gross mismanagement of state funds during his reign, including N1billion loan meant for the repair of Gusau Dam in 2006.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in January filed 19 charges against the ex-governor alongside three others — Alhaji Hashim A. Dikko; Development Management Limited; and HAD Nigeria Limited, at the High Court of Zamfara State.
About N425, 491,736.75 of the N1billion was allegedly diverted to other purposes, including assistance to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), furniture allowance, consultancy fee, Ramadan feeding, Hajj and purchase of cars.
The former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force (PRTF) is facing trial in connection with the alleged embezzlement, misappropriation and looting of the Police Pension Fund. Maina, who was summoned by the court on allegations of criminal conspiracy, fraud and money laundering, is allegedly on the run.
The retired Director of Police Pension Office is facing charges of conspiracy and theft along with six accused persons. He, along with other accused persons, allegedly withdrew the sum of N24 billion from the accounts of the Police Pension office domiciled in First Bank of Nigeria, Plc. The offence was reportedly committed between August 2007 and May 2011. The other accused persons are Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Veronica Ulunma Onyegbula, Sani Habila Zira, Uzoma Cyril Attang and Christian Madubuke. The accused persons were arraigned on an amended 20-count charge that borders on criminal breach of trust.
The former Head of Service and two others were arraigned on a 24-count charge of allegedly stealing, obtaining by false pretence, theft and money laundering to the tune of N1.9billion. He was charged with complicity in money laundering and contract scam. Oronsaye was alleged to have used some companies and diverted huge sums of money from the federal government coffers under the guise of using same to pay for biometric data capture project.
The fraud was allegedly committed between March and May 2010 while the first accused person was still the Head of Service of the Federation.
Ex-chairman of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Probe, he is under EFCC probe over allegations of bribery and corruption in the wake of the ill-fated fuel subsidy inquest. Lawan’s case took a controversial twist when oil magnate, Femi Otedola, claimed to have offered the lawmaker $620,000 bribe to get two of his companies off the list of companies allegedly guzzling tax payers of billions in the petroleum subsidy scam.
In an earlier blockbuster presentation on April 18, 2012, Otedola’s companies — Zenon and Synopsis — were indicted, but after Otedola allegedly paid Lawan bribes between April 21 and 24th April 21, 2012 ($250,000), April 23, 2012 ($250,000) and early morning of April 24, 2012 ($100,000), they were reportedly let off the hook. The two companies were delisted on the morning of April 24, 2012 during the House Plenary Discussion on Subsidy Report.
Lawan later claimed he had communications with the Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Crimes and the Inspector General of Police claiming that Otedola was persisting in trying to offer him bribes to influence the outcome of the investigation.
However, the EFCC’s entry into the case suggests a new twist and serious dimensions to Lawan’s problems. Police investigators interrogated Otedola on the allegation he offered US$620,000 to Farouk Lawan. Although Otedola reportedly admitted that he gave the money to Lawan to get his oil marketing firm, Zenon Ltd cleared of indictment over fuel subsidy fraud that involved several firms and cost the nation more than N2 trillion, he reportedly claimed he acted with law enforcement agents who planted visual and audio devices to trap Lawan after he had pestered him to pay the alleged bribe.
Former Interior Minister Abba Moro was arrested and quizzed by the EFCC in connection with the controversial recruitment exercise conducted by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in 2014 that led to the death of about 20 job seekers.
The Federal Government has filed charges against Moro and four others before the Federal High Court, Abuja. Also named in the 11-count charge are the ex-Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Anastasia M. Daniel-Nwaobia; F.A. Aleyebami; Mahmood Ahmadu and Drexel Global Technology Limited. Moro and his accomplices are charged with money laundering, obtaining under false pretext by allegedly inducing applicants in the botched NIS recruitment exercise of 2014 to deliver N676.7 million.
The former aviation minister recently lost his bid to stop his trial by the EFCC. Hearing on the case was about to commence when the Attorney General of the Federation requested a brief on the case which stalled the commencement of the trial. Borishade and four others were arraigned in 2009 on a 15-count charge for allegedly mismanaging N5.2billion aviation safe tower contract. The case has been adjourned.
Erstwhile President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Sani Lulu is standing trial for alleged corruption. He was arraigned by the EFCC on September 6, 2010 alongside a former first vice president of the NFF, Amanze Uchegbulam, a former executive committee member, Taiwo Ogunjobi, and ex-NFF Secretary-General Bolaji Ojo-Oba.
The quartet were accused of misappropriating over N1.5billion released by the Federal Government to the NFF for prosecution of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa without giving proper accounts of how the money was spent. They are also said to have allegedly siphoned about $125,000 through shoddy hotel bookings in South Africa during the World Cup.
Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja recently dismissed a “no-case-submission” filed by Lulu to stop his trial for corruption.
Prince Uche Secondus, Deputy National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was recently arrested by operatives of the EFCC in Abuja for allegedly receiving exotic car gifts worth N310 million from a business associate of Diezani Alison-Madueke, ex-Petroleum Minister. The funds used for the purchase of the vehicles were allegedly sourced from crude oil receipts, which the associate did not remit.
The former Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs and a stalwart of the PDP was arraigned on a four-count charge by the federal government before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for false asset declaration and acceptance of N70million bribe from a contractor. Orubebe is infamous for his failed attempt to disrupt the announcement of the 2015 presidential election results when he staged a one-man protest denouncing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for bias.
Stepping up the anti-graft war
The appointment of Ibrahim Mustafa Magu by President Muhammadu Buhari has brought renewed vigour to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Since his mandate, the agency has been busy with investigation and prosecution of corrupt current and former office holders. The reason for the revived bounce in the fight against graft is not far-fetched: the political will of President Buhari who has vowed to stamp out corruption. The EFCC head reveals much about the source of the courage of the anti-corruption war: “By far more inspirational is the political will of Mr President to fight corruption. This unbending will which some now call body language has given the needed traction to the anti-corruption campaign”.
Magu should know being a pioneer staffer of the agency. In the early years immediately following the establishment of the EFCC, the anti-graft agency under the leadership of a young and vibrant Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu earned the respect of Nigerians as one of the few public agencies that was rebuilding the image of the country. Indeed, early successes such as the arrest and public humiliation of a sitting Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun by the EFCC surprised Nigerians who were convinced that nothing could touch corrupt public office holders. The investigation of a sitting former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and Deprieye Alamieseigha, then governor of Bayelsa State further boosted the EFCC and the image of Nigeria. Indeed, Nigeria’s standing in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index improved markedly.
The unceremonious removal of Ribadu as Chairman of the EFCC and a lull in activities of anti-graft agencies dented the credibility of the EFCC and led to another reign of impunity in the public service. More so, the activities of the last two heads — Farida Waziri and Ibrahim Lamorde — who were themselves accused of corruption, further damaged the reputation of the EFCC.
As a testament to President Buhari’s vow to tackle corruption, the budget of the nine anti-graft agencies has been increased to N27.7billion in the 2016 budget from N26.8billion in 2015. The EFCC gets 40 percent, being the most important. It is on this pedestal that Magu is now taking the fight to the door-steps of politically-exposed and corrupt persons guided only by the “fear of God, national interest and the rule of law”.
The EFCC since the coming of the Buhari administration has investigated more cases than the five years of the previous administration. Most of these ‘persons of interest’ remain on security watch even as investigation continues to determine their culpability.
Magu seems particularly irked by the brazenness shown by treasury looters given that he served as a member of the committee instituted by the current National Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Munguno that probed procurement of arms between 2011 and 2015.
Since the Buhari administration declared war on corruption, hitherto untouchable Nigerians have been hauled into the EFCC’s net. Once powerful men now sit in detention facilities of the agency and prisons across the country. High ranking politicians and former and serving military chiefs now take turns at the EFCC’s interrogation facilities while awaiting formal arraignment in court.
With the full understanding that the agency cannot win the fight without the support of key constituencies, the EFCC Chairman appeals to critical stakeholders to join the fight against corruption. He challenges the law profession to join the crusade, and is also lobbying the media and other interest groups.
The EFCC has taken the ongoing anti-corruption war further by sending officers of the global police organisation, INTERPOL after suspects who have been indicted for graft. Sources say such indicted persons who have escaped from Nigeria would certainly be caught and prosecuted.
Support is also coming in endorsements of the anti-graft war from within and outside the country. Earlier in the year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon commended President Buhari’s anti-corruption war and the fight against insecurity as well as his effort in developing the economy. Nobel Laureate and human rights activist Professor Wole Soyinka notes the sincerity of the administration. “We have not had a case where it had been alleged and increasingly proven that money that was supposed to be spent defending ourselves, our nation, our neighbourhood had been shared among individuals,” he says.
Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman of the Presidential Anti-corruption Advisory Committee is also a believer in the President. His summation reflects the general view in the country. “I support what he is doing because he is doing the right thing,” he says.
The clergy are not left out in the fight against corruption as they have thrown their weight behind the battle. Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God has called for total support for the war on graft.
Corruption: counting the cost!
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption agencies have recovered huge sums of money running into billions of dollars in the past 12 years. The revelation was made by Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami.
For human rights activists, this signposts the level of impunity and lack of accountability that have caused Nigeria to be mired in underdevelopment since independence in 1960. Though many find it hard to believe that a country could haemorrhage so heavily, a close scrutiny of ongoing cases handled by such anti-corruption agencies as EFCC, ICPC, NDLEA and the DSS shows that the AGF was not bluffing. The $2.1billion arms scandal involving the former NSA and political associates is about N417.9billion; more than the combined 2014, 2015 and 2016 (N412.8billion) budgets of Sokoto, home state of Sambo Dasuki, the man at the centre of the arms scandal. The amount is enough to construct the Lagos-Badagry super highway which estimates say will gulp N220billion.
The late dictator General Sani Abacha alone is thought to have stolen and laundered several billions of dollars that are still being trailed around the globe. Even obscure sovereigns such as Liechtenstein returned $227million Abacha loot in 2014 while the Island of Jersey is in negotiation with the federal government to refund over $400million and £22million the Abachas squirreled away in that country.
Switzerland, the money laundering ‘capital’ of the world, has already returned $1billion in the past 10 years. Monies and assets have been reportedly recovered from former governors such as Lucky Igbinedion while cases are pending in the courts involving Chimaroke Nnamani, Joshua Dariye, Saminu Turaki, James Ibori, Jolly Nyame, Gbenga Daniel and Dimeji Bankole, among other politically-exposed persons.
Nor can we forget the move against Bank owner-CEOs whose assets and properties were seized in connection with alleged fraudulent acquisition of assets that led to big shake-out in the banking system half-a-decade ago. Erastus Akingbola of Intercontinental Bank, Francis Atuche of Bank PHB, Cecilia Ibru of Oceanic Bank, Sebastian Adigwe of Afribank and Okey Nwosu of Finbank among others were removed as CEOs and stripped of assets valued at several hundreds of billions of naira.
In the AGF’s estimation, between 2012 and 2014, the financial system lost N64billion. Between 2000 and 2013, ‘illicit funds flow’, a catch-all phrase for all criminal enrichment such as proceeds from drug-peddling, bribery, oil theft, kidnapping, ‘419’, cyber-crime, human trafficking, armed robbery and embezzlement, topped N20 trillion (which is more than triple the current N6.08trillion budget).
“As you all know, illicit funds transfer has a number of severe effects on a country like Nigeria. It drains the country’s foreign exchange reserves, reduces tax base, increases poverty levels, increases insecurity as a potential source of terror funding, and hurts the country’s international image,” says Malami, Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice.