Saturday, July 02, 2016

Grand Theft Nationale: How Elites Stole Nigeria Dry
By Abbas Jimoh
Nigeria Daily Trust
Jul 2 2016 5:00AM

The fight against corruption is global like its consequences. But with Nigeria ranking among the most corrupt nations in the world, international attention remains focused on the country especially on the mind-boggling cases of corruption allegedly perpetrated by senior public office holders. Daily Trust takes a look at some of the more infamous cases.

In just a few years, Nigeria’s foreign reserve was depleted, Excess Crude Account expended and official looting fully entrenched. The Nigerian economy quivered, while elites occupying top government positions pilfered. That was the case of Nigeria under former President Goodluck Jonathan, making current president, Muhammadu Buhari, insist that things must ‘change’.

“All frauds must stop. If they don’t believe us, they should go and see those we caught red-handed with public funds.  This exercise will continue as long as this leadership is here. Whoever takes anything that does not belong to him or that he’s not entitled to, it’ll be documented and the person will be taken to court. This is the only way I think we can bail ourselves out,” these were the exact words of President Buhari recently, while addressing State House workers in Abuja.

Before the President’s latest remark, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed on June 4, partially fulfilled a promise the President made in London on May 14 to publicize names and details of those involved in massive looting of public funds.

Mohammed released what seem to be an interim report, indicating that government has so far, successfully retrieved cash amounting to N78,325,354,631.82; $185,119,584.61; £3,508,355.46 and €11, 250 between May 29, 2015 and May 25, 2016.

Also released recoveries under interim forfeiture which were a combination of cash and assets
during the same period: N126,563,481,095.43; $9,090,243,920.15; £2,484,447.55 and €303,399.17.

Anticipated repatriation from foreign countries totalled: $321,316,726.1; £6,900,000 and €11,826.11.

The ministry also announced that 239 non-cash recoveries were made during the one-year period including farmlands, plots of land, uncompleted buildings, completed buildings, vehicles and maritime vessels.

Majority of the cases were being handled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Services (DSS). The nation currently battles with economic downturn with 29 of the 36 states of the federation unable to pay salaries. This was partly blamed on the monumental level of pilfering of public funds that occurred in the past few years.

Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd):

‘Dasukigate’ is perhaps the biggest scam ever unravelled in the history of Nigeria. The Buhari administration opened a can of worms when it decided to probe spending of funds meant for procurement of arms and ammunition under the immediate-past regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

A former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and four others are presently standing trial for allegedly laundering and diverting $2.1 billion (over N550 billion) arms fund. This is enough to fund the 2016 proposed budgets of Ebonyi, Kebbi, Sokoto, Edo, Yobe and Ekiti states altogether. Other top politicians and former public officials are also being probed over the scam.

In spite of confessions by many of those arrested, Dasuki insists he has done no wrong.

Bashir Yuguda:

A former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda is also being prosecuted by the EFCC. He was first arrested in Abuja and taken into custody in November 2015, was linked with other suspects over the controversial Dasukigate arms procurement scandal.

The former minister allegedly received suspicious payments from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), including N1.5billion through an unnamed company, for unstated purpose. He also allegedly received N1.275billion from Stallion Group during campaign for the last general election and another N775million was also allegedly paid to him from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation for unstated reason.

Attahiru Bafarawa:

A former Sokoto State Governor, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, was also nabbed in 2015 after he lost his hide-and-seek game with the EFCC. His son Sagir was also arrested. Bafarawa was arrested for allegedly receiving N4.6 billion meant for “spiritual purposes”.

Chief Raymond Dokpesi:

The Chairman emeritus of Daar Communications Plc. High Chief Raymond Dokpesi is currently standing trial for his involvement in the Dasukigate scandal. He was linked with receiving N2.1billion mostly for ‘publicity and media political campaign during the 2015 general elections’.
The alleged funds were said to have been transferred to the accused by the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) through a First Bank account operated by DAAR Investment and Holding Company Limited. He was remanded in prison custody but later granted bail.

Alhaji Aminu Babakusa:

Babakusa was a former General Executive Director at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He allegedly received N2.2billion, which he said during one of his appearances in court that he shared out ‘as instructed’. He also promised to refund part of the monies by selling some of his choice properties.

Waripamowei Dudafa:

A former Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Domestic Matters, Waripamowei Dudafa is also on trial for his alleged involvement in the $2.1 billion arms deal fraud. He was arrested April while attempting to board a flight at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, MMIA Lagos.

According to media reports, Dudafa was involved in the sharing of N10billion taken from the office of the former NSA and shared to PDP delegates for the Presidential primary election during the 2015 general elections.

Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi:

In another widely-reported scam, a former Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi and five other staff of the agency, are currently standing trial on a 22-count charge for allegedly stealing the sum of N2.6 billion belonging to NIMASA.

Chief Olisa Metuh:

A former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Metuh is also standing trial for receiving N1.4billion from the $2.1 billion arms funds diverted to several politicians in the Dasukigate scandal.

Emeka Mba:

Mr. Mba is a former Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC). He is, alongside three others, standing trial over an alleged N17 billion fraud. The EFCC has reportedly recovered N10 billion being part of the fund and which is from an alleged inflation of collateral funds meant for Digital Set-Top Boxes.

Bala James Ngillari:

Mr. Ngillari was the immediate past governor of Adamawa State and is being interrogated by the EFCC for allegedly receiving N450 million from the Dasukigate bazaar. He has however denied any wrongdoing, denying claims by a former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Hassan Adamu and the PDP chairman in Adamawa State, Joel Madaki, that they collected the money from Fidelity Bank, Yola branch, and deposited it at the accounts department of Adamawa Government House on the instruction of the governor.

Mrs. Esther Nenadi Usman:

A former Minister of State Finance and Director of Finance of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Senator Nenadi Usman reportedly returned N23million to the coffers of the Federal Government after her arrest.

She is currently under trial after her arrest in April for receiving N2.5billion out of the over N4 billion which was transferred out of CBN into various individuals and company’s accounts; with N140m cash allegedly paid into her Zenith Bank Account in January 2015.

She allegedly paid the Director of Publicity of the campaign, Femi Fani-Kayode N840million, Chief Olu Falae, and Rashidi Ladoja allegedly received N100million each, Prof. Rufai Alkali, who was the Coordinator of the Goodluck Support Group (GSG), allegedly collected N320million on behalf of the group among others.

Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd):

The EFCC has filed 21 charges against a former Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu. He is currently under trial alongside a former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting in NAF, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun (rtd); and a former Director of Finance and Budget, Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo (rtd.) Amosu has reportedly returned N2.3billion to the Federal Government through two bank drafts. One draft was for N2billion, while the second was N300million. His wife was also arrested by the EFCC over the scandal totalling N22.8billion.

Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd):

A former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh was also arrested by the EFCC over his role in the $2.1bn Dasukigate arms purchase scam. According to reports, contracts totalling $930,500,690.00 were awarded by the military under the leadership of Badeh in questionable circumstances.

Diezani Alison-Madueke:

The disbursement of $115m (N23bn) by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke for the 2015 elections is one of the troubling revelations in the ongoing anti-graft war. Each state of the federation was said to have received N450million from the fund. The monies were said to have been handled by ministers or governors of the then ruling PDP. There were also alleged payments to some Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) top officials, purportedly to rig the 2015 elections through Fidelity Bank. The EFCC in connection with the scam arrested a former managing director of Fidelity Bank, who was forced to resign in the wake of the scandal.

The EFCC arrested Alhaji Saidu Dakingari, immediate past governor of Kebbi State over the N450 million he allegedly received from Alison-Madueke during the build-up to the 2015 presidential election. Other elites that have been quizzed by anti-corruption agencies for their roles in the scandal, dubbed ‘Diezani-gate’, and they include former governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, former education minister, Ibrahim Shekarau; ex-governor Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno State, former governor of Kaduna State, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and former governor of Zamfara State, Mamuda Shinkafi.

Ahmadu Fintiri:

Mr. Ahmadu Fintiri acted as governor of Adamawa State in 2014, after a former governor, Murtala Nyako was impeached by the state’s House of Assembly.

Fintiri, who is under trial and has been remanded in Kuje Prison pending the determination of his bail application, was arraigned by the EFCC on a five-count charge bordering on money laundering.

He was said to have defrauded the Adamawa government to the tune of N970 million and $4.8 million, when he was the governor of the state for three months. He however pleaded not guilty to the charge.

- With additional reports by Haruna Ibrahim.


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