…As EFCC says Over N30 billion recovered through tips from whistle blowers***
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday said he did not sign N640billion oil contracts when the President was in London on medical leave.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande said the VP only gave approval for financing arrangements for the Joint Ventures between the corporation and IOCs.
The statement said: “Approached by reporters after the ground-breaking multi-billion Naira historic Bonny-Bodo road project, in Bonny, Rivers State, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, explained specifically that the approvals he granted to the NNPC while he was Acting President were for financing arrangements for the Joint Ventures between the corporation and IOCs, and not approvals for contracts.”
The statement quoted the VP as saying: “These were financing loans. Of course, you know what the Joint Ventures are, with the lOCs, like Chevron, that had to procure. In some cases, NNPC and their Joint Venture partners have to secure loans and they need authorization to secure those loans while the President was away. The law actually provides for those authorisations.
“So I did grant two of them and those were presidential approvals, but they are specifically for financing joint ventures and they are loans not contracts.”
The SSA added: “Earlier today, I had tweeted on the same matter thus: “In response to media inquiries on the NNPC Joint Venture financing arrangements, VP Osinbajo, as Acting President, approved the recommendations after due diligence and adherence to established procedures.
“This was, of course, necessary to deal with huge backlog of unpaid cash calls which the Buhari administration inherited, and to incentivise much needed fresh investments in the oil and gas sector.”
In the meantime, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Ibrahim Magu, says more than N30 billion looted funds have been recovered since the commencement of the whistle blowing policy.
“Since the commencement of the whistle-blower policy, we have received hundreds of actionable tips that led to the following cash recoveries: N527, 643,500; $53,222,747; GBP 21,222,890 and Euro 547,730,” Mr. Magu said on Thursday at the launch of the whistle-blower support project.
Tagged ‘Corruption Anonymous’ (CORA), the project is being organised by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation.
In a speech at the event, Mr. Magu said the EFCC has created an environment for those with information to approach the Commission, confident that the information they give would be put into effective use.
Thursday’s speech comes about two months after Mr. Magu some of the tip-offs passed to anti-graft detectives by whistle blowers were leading nowhere.
The EFCC chief, however, explained his stance at the event.
“I am glad to report that Nigerians have so far been very responsive. We have always treated every tip referred to us with strict sense of responsibility bearing in mind that such undertaking on the part of the whistle-blower is usually a matter of trust and even risk.
“At the same time, we have been careful not to be used by mischief makers who would want to abuse this process.
“Let me reiterate that just as there is consequence for corruption, there will be consequence for those who want to take advantage of this noble initiative in the fight against corruption to create mischief. We have responded to this possibility by developing a water-tight mechanism of both reporting and cross-checking information.”
He commended the initiators of the project, adding that “through this window, we have seen many Nigerians whose motivation was not just to benefit from the recoveries, as promised by the federal government, but the satisfaction of having to see that what was ill-gotten has been recovered for the good of all.
“Those in this category were motivated by their sense of justice and overriding national interest, not the financial reward. We urge more Nigerians to borrow a leaf from these patriotic individuals.
“President Muhammadu Buhari during his October 1 national broadcast highlighted the Whistle-Blower Policy as one of the administration’s new institutional reforms to eradicate corruption in Nigeria,” Mr. Magu said.
In his speech, Chido Onumah, Co-ordinator of AFRICMIL, said the anti-graft war has recorded a huge success through the whistle blowing policy.
Mr. Onumah said going by figures from the Presidential advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, 2,150 tips had been received by the Ministry of Finance.
Despite the success recorded, Mr. Onumah said the policy still lacks proper awareness among Nigerians.
“Take a walk around town and ask Nigerians, chances are that nine out of ten would not have heard about the policy much less have any idea of how to submit tips.
“The second thing is the glaring absence of commitment to the safety and protection of whistle blowers. Most of those who are reported are often left to walk free and never invited for questioning, much less suspended from office as the public service rules recommended.”
While urging Nigerians to key into the whistle blowing policy, he said the CORA project is geared towards creating awareness and ensuring maximum protection for whistle blowers.
President Buhari announced the policy in December 2016. It encourages citizens to inform law enforcement authorities about suspicious activities of public treasury looters.
A maximum five per cent of the recovered sum was earmarked as reward for the whistle blower as part of the policy. In June, government announced payouts of N375.8 million to 20 whistle blowers.
Nation with additional report from Premium