…As Magu says EFCC recovered N473bn, $98.2m, £294,851, others in 2017***
There is N9.4 billion meant for the installation of security devices at the 22 airports?
This is the knot the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is battling to untie.
Its detectives have traced about N3.9billion of the N9.4billion to a company belonging to a former Minister of Aviation, Sen. Stella Oduah and five other firms.
The firms are Broadwaters Resources Company Limited; Sobora International Limited; Global offshore and Marine Limited; Tip Top Global Resources Limited and Crystal TV .
About 61 suspects have been grilled by the anti-graft agency in connection with the alleged diversion of the cash.
The EFCC has obtained a court order to impound six dredging vessels, quarry equipment and some equipment bought for Crystal TV under the Interim Forfeiture clause in its Act.
The commission has raised a team to interrogate Mrs Oduah, a senator.
According to a fact-sheet, which was obtained by our correspondent, Tip Top Global Resources Limited, which is linked with the family of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, was paid N780million for unknown services.
The document states: “The contract is for the sum of N9,443,549,531.25 for the procurement and installation of equipment in 22 airports. No evidence that due diligence was carried out before the contract was awarded.
“This contract was initially awarded to a company called Cybernetics Limited. Ex- President Goodluck Jonathan approved the award to Cybernetics and the Bureau of Public Procurement issued a certificate of no objection. But due to the reduction of the cost from over N10b to N9.4b., Cybernetics rejected the award.
“I-SEC, which was supposed to be technical partner to Cybernetics, was later proposed by the ex-Minister of Aviation for the contract.
”Out of the contract sum, N3, 911, 887, 753.56 was fraudulently diverted, misappropriated and laundered through some companies. Investigators have been able to trace the cash.”
A director of I-SEC is said to have refunded about N240million to EFCC out of the slush funds traced to him. The EFCC has located six dredging vessels, quarry equipment and equipment bought for Crystal TV. An interim forfeiture order has been obtained on these equipment.
The N3, 911, 887, 753.56 was “paid to other beneficiaries who do not have direct or indirectly connection to the execution of the contract.”
“About N839, 780,738.09 was remitted to Broadwaters Resources Company Limited N839, 780,738.09 which had no relationship with I-SEC. The cash paid into Broadwaters was later diverted into another firm called Sobora International Limited to liquidate an existing loan into First Bank. The shareholders and signatories to the account are people related to Stella Oduah. Her cousin, who is a staff in her private company called SEA Petroleum and Gas Limited was a signatory into the account.
Another N1, 629,250,000 was paid into the account of Global offshore and Marine Limited out of which about N840m went to Crystal TV Limited. The shareholders and signatories to the account of Crystal TV are related to Stella Oduah and the cash was used to liquidate existing loan by Crystal TV.
“From the same N1.6b, about N780million was transferred to Tip Top Global Resources Ltd belonging to the family of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim where Anyim’s staff were discovered to be signatories to the account.”
Meanwhile, the EFCC has raised a panel to interrogate Sen. Oduah, who is scheduled to appear before the team on February 19th.
“We are set for the ex-Minister’s grilling, it is left to her to keep to the appointment date which she has fixed,” a top source added.
EFCC said: “Oduah was invited on three occasions to report for interview on the 13th June, 2017, 29th June 2017 and 13th November 2017 but she failed to honour any of the invitations.
Rather than appear to face a panel that was raised by the EFCC to interrogate her, Mrs. Oduah, through a letter dated January 5, 2018, informed the commission that she would honour the invite on January 29, 2018.
“The letter was duly acknowledged by the commission and just as the investigators were looking forward to her arrival Oduah played a fast one on the EFCC with another letter indicating that she would no longer be available on January 29.
“She cited an invitation by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, to accompany him to London where he was scheduled to deliver a lecture at the House of Commons on January 25.
“Oduah stated that her next convenient date to honour your invitation is 19th February, 2018.”
In the meantime, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission recovered stolen funds totalling N473.065bn in 2017, the Acting Chairman of the commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, told the House of Representatives on Monday in Abuja.
Magu said this when he appeared before the House Committee on Financial Crimes to defend the agency’s 2018 budget proposals and review the performance of the 2017 allocations.
The committee is chaired by an All Progressives Congress member from Ogun State, Mr. Kayode Oladele.
Magu added that other funds recovered in foreign currencies were $98.2m; £294,851; Dirham 443,400; and South African Rand 70, 500.
Speaking further, he told the committee that final forfeiture of N32bn and $5m recovered from the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, had been secured for the Federal Government.
He added, “Recovery and final forfeiture of N449m discovered at Legico Plaza in Victoria Island, Lagos. Final forfeiture of $43m discovered in the Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos; recovery of over N329bn from petroleum marketers by the commission’s Kano office; withholding tax recovery of over N27.7bn from banks; recovery of over €6.6m from the Nigerian Port Authority; recoveries of about N1.1bn on behalf of AMCON and recovery of subsidy fraud of over N4bn.”
Lawmakers showed much interest in the Osborne Towers’ recovery, asking Magu whether the commission eventually identified the owner of the money.
He replied that nobody came forward to claim ownership of the money after the agency advertised it along with the building.
Magu stated that the EFCC later went to court to obtain a final forfeiture order of the money and the property for the government.
He disclosed that documents recovered from the building indicated that companies belonging to the son of a former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency owned property there.
However, Magu said the ex-DG’s son, who was a director in the companies, also later denied ownership of the building.
“Since no owner came up, they were forfeited to the Federal Government by the orders of court,” he added.
The EFCC is proposing to spend N21.2bn in 2018, up from the N17.2bn it budgeted in 2017.
Magu explained that the “27 per cent” increase was to cover a raise in personnel expenditure from N7.1bn in 2017 to N11bn in 2018.
He also complained that prosecution of cases was taking a large chunk of the agency’s budget, with as many as 189 convictions secured in 2017.
Some members, including the Chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions, Mr. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, grilled Magu over the recruitment process in the EFCC, which they said did not reflect federal character.
They alleged that states in the South-South and the South-East were not adequately represented in the personnel roll of the EFCC.
But, Magu disagreed, insisting that there was fair representation of every geopolitical zone.
On several occasions, Oladele had to intervene to douse tension as more and more members took Magu up on the staff roll of the agency.
Nation with additional report from Punch