The Federal Government is expected to extend its dragnet towards catching and prosecuting more people and groups who allegedly helped themselves with huge funds meant for buying arms for the armed forces, leaving soldiers to fight, basically with bare hands.
Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission probing how funds were diverted and or stolen by top politicians, have stumbled on fresh evidence that senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria were actively involved in the transfer of funds to the suspects.
The agency also discovered that most of the records which the Office of the National Security Adviser used in collecting the huge sums of public funds from the relevant government agencies and paying the sludge funds to the politicians, were not kept in the office of the embattled NSA.
There are reports as at last night that EFCC operatives were set to summon the former Minister of Finance & Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okojo-Iweala and some top officials of the CBN to shed more light on what they know about the arms budget said to have been diverted by bigwigs of one of the political parties.
The list includes serving and retired top officials of the CBN who helped in the disbursement of the money to the beneficiaries.
Vanguard reports that the decision to summon the former minister and the apex bank officials followed the discovery that the bank played an active part in wiring various sums of money to persons and institutions at home and abroad without paying attention to due process.
A source said: “It is clear from our discovery that some money taken from the Abacha loot was used to secure some arms and fight insurgency but it is also clear that a larger part of the money was diverted and nobody raised an eyebrow.
“We want these people to come and give us further clarifications on why they released the money and who got what and why.”
It was gathered that documents at the CBN have established that the $15 million cash which the office of the NSA ferried for the purchase of arms and was seized by the South African Government was part of the Abacha loot. The country is yet to refund the cash to Nigeria.
It was also learnt that part of the Abacha loot was used to secure the services of mercenaries and guerrillas from some countries to assist in re-taking 22 Nigerian territories in the North-East from Boko Haram.
The government at the time had engaged some of the foreign fighters to train troops in anti-terrorism warfare, intelligence gathering and counter terrorism which enabled them recover the lost territories from the insurgents. In spite of that, it never admitted using any of them for any of its operations.
Okonjo-Iweala helped Jonathan loot stolen funds, Oshiomhole insists
Meanwhile, the war of words between Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala continued, yesterday, as the governor alleged that the former minister facilitated looting of funds by officials of the past administration.
Yesterday, he continued his verbal assault on former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Oshiomhole was the guest speaker at a dialogue session that was co-organised by the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, and the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, in Abuja to commemorate the International Human Rights Day. He urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to spare the former Minister who he branded “Ali Baba”.
Speaking to journalists at the end of his presentation, Oshiomhole, maintained that Okonjo-Iweala has serious questions to answer with regards to what happened to looted funds that were recovered from former military dictator, General Sani Abacha.
He said it was not enough for the former minister to “sit there in Washington”, and say that she “transferred part of the money recovered from Abacha to Dasuki for security purpose”.
“All I am just saying is that we are in a constitutional democracy. We are not under an informal arrangement.
“Money was looted and foreign countries helped us recover that money and a minister assisted in ensuring that that money is re-looted again.
Meanwhile, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked former Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to “apologise to Nigerians for claiming recently that recovered Abacha loot was transparently spent while she knew that $322m (about N63billion) recovered Abacha funds were inappropriately released to finance the fight against Boko Haram.”
SERAP’s statement yesterday followed Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s statement that she released about $322m to the former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki for military operations.
In a statement by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni the organisation said: “The truth about the spending of Abacha loot is now coming out, and it is clear that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala was wrong to accuse SERAP of bias while she knew that we are simply seeking truth, justice and accountability on the spending of recovered Abacha loot.”
“Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s approach of ‘no answers, no apology’ on how Abacha loot was spent is doing her reputation more harm than good
Just a couple of days ago, a statement by her Media Adviser, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, insisted that she secured the approval of ex-President Jonathan before the funds were transferred. She stressed that the approval followed the recommendation of a committee set-up by former President Jonathan to advise the administration on the way forward.
The ex-Minister explained that based on recommendation of the committee, she personally requested that part of the recovered funds be used for security operations while the rest be channeled to developmental purposes.
She said her decision to release the funds to the ONSA, was sequel to accusations that she was starving the military of funds to prosecute war on terrorism.