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Friday, December 11, 2015

ALLEGED $2billion arms deal PROBE : EFCC summon Okonjo-Iweala

EFCC
ABUJA— Indications emerged last night that the Federal Government would extend its dragnet towards apprehending and prosecuting more individuals and groups which allegedly helped themselves with huge funds meant for the acquisition of arms for the armed forces, leaving the soldiers to fight with bare hands.

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.


Already, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission probing how funds meant for arms were diverted and 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 operatives are upset that rather than help to protect the fortunes of the country, the said officials aided and abetted politicians to bolt away with the nation’s scarce resources.

The agency also discovered that most of the records which the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, 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.

It was learnt  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.

Also to be invited based on evidence of disbursement from the apex bank, are some serving and retired top officials of the CBN who helped in the disbursement of the arms cash to the beneficiaries.

Vanguard learnt 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.

It was the gamut of transaction documents from the CBN that has assisted them to trace and arrest the high profile politicians and their cronies, who benefitted from the public funds meant for arms.

EFCCA 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.

Already, eight of the suspects have been charged with stealing, money laundering and breach of the Public Procurement Act, while none of them is yet to be released even on bail.

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