- As EFCC begs Judge: Don’t transfer Fani-Kayode’s case to Abuja
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed says the Federal Government’s Whistleblowing policy has yielded $151million and N8billion in looted funds.
In a statement signed by Segun Adeyemi, the Special Assistant to the Minister, Alhaji Mohammed said the looted funds were recovered via the clues provided by three whistleblowers who gave actionable information to the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.
The biggest amount of $136,676,600.51 was recovered from an account in a commercial bank, where the money was kept under an apparently fake account name. This was followed by the recovery of N7 billion and $15 million from another person and 1 billion Naira from yet another.
The recovered loots do not include the $9.2 million in cash allegedly owned by a former Group Managing Director of the NNPC, which was also a dividend of the whistleblower policy, All the monies recovered so far totalled over $160million.
”When we told Nigerians that there was a primitive and mindless looting of the national treasury under the last Administration, some people called us liars. Well, the whistle-blower policy is barely two months old and Nigerians have started feeling its impact, seeing how a few people squirrelled away public funds. It is doubtful if any economy in the world will not feel the impact of such mind-boggling looting of the treasury as was experienced in Nigeria.
”Yet whatever has been recovered so far, including the $9.2 million by the EFCC, is just a tip of the iceberg,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He appealed to Nigerians with useful information on looted funds to continue to provide the authorities with such information, saying confidentiality will be maintained with regards to the source of the information.
The Minister also reminded Nigerians of the financial reward aspect of the policy, saying ”If there is a voluntary return of stolen or concealed public funds or assets on the account of the information provided, the whistle blower may be entitled to anywhere between 2.5% (Minimum) and 5.0% (Maximum) of the total amount recovered”.
In the meantime, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has pleaded with Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss the application by a former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, seeking the transfer of his criminal trial from Lagos to Abuja.
The EFCC is prosecuting Fani-Kayode for an alleged fraud of N4.9bn.
Standing trial alongside Fani-Kayode on 17 counts are a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman, an ex-Chairman of Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Mr. Yusuf Danjuma, and a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.
Fani-Kayode had, in an application filed through his lawyer, Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN), pleaded for the transfer of his trial to Abuja for convenience and on the grounds that the cause of action leading to the charges took place in Abuja.
Besides, the former minister also said he did not have confidence in Justice Hassan who is presiding over the case.
Fani-Kayode said he was afraid that he would not get justice before Justice Hassan, because the judge was a lawyer for the EFCC until recently when he was appointed as a judge of the Federal High Court.
Fani-Kayode recalled that it was Justice Hassan, then a senior counsel for the EFCC,who drafted, filed and signed a charge marked, FHC/L/523c/2008, leading to his trial for alleged N100m money laundering before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
However, opposing Fani-Kayode’s application, the EFCC, in a counter-affidavit, begged Justice Hassan not to grant the request to transfer the case to Abuja.
The anti-graft commission said contrary to Fani-Kayode’s claim, part of the criminal activities alleged against him took place in Lagos.
It added that the witnesses it intended to call in the case live in Lagos.
“The various accounts used as an intermediate step in the scheme of the alleged fraud/offences are domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc which has its operational headquarters in Lagos,” counsel for the EFCC, Idris Mohammed, said in the counter-affidavit.
The EFCC also contended that it was too late for the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to transfer the case to Abuja because trial had already started and one witness had already been called.
The Citizen with additional report from Upshot