EFCC: Why Emefiele, Seriki, May Go To Jail

By Suleiman Umaru and Lateef Adegbite

When Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to former President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed that the Immediate past Nigerian President was above scandal and had no account with corrupt money   anywhere in the world, nobody took him seriously. This is because of the alleged involvement of Godwin Emefiele, who incidentally was a former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Hadi Seriki, immediate past minister of Aviation in alleged fraudulent practices speaks volume.

The bubble may have burst as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under the close watch of Ola Olukoyede, had exposes the rot perpetuated by the former apex bank governor for approving the printing of N684.5 million Notes of N200, N500 and N1000 at  the rate of N18.5 billion   disobeyed  the which the agency had said allegedly disobeyed the  direction   of the Law  with intent to case  injury to the public  during the implementation  of the naira  swap policy  of the Buhari’s Administration.

Emefiele: Embatled former Governor of CBN

The antigraft agency may not have stopped there.  It was said to have also accused the erstwhile of governor of the country’s Financial Regulatory Authority of approving the withdrawal of N124.8 billion from the Consolidated Revenue Account for undisclosed reasons.  He was said to have used his office in approving a contract   for the acquisition of 43 vehicles totaling N1.2 billion from 2018 to 2020.  

Until, the EFCC Authorities dropped the bombshell that Emefiele, spent N18.5 billion to print N684.5 million  notes,    in 2022, Olayemi Cardoso led , CBN, which had released its  audited  financial  statement  for  the year ended December 31, 2022, that N96.46 billion  was spent in the printing and distribution of the new naira notes across the country. 

 More worrisome was the Bank’s claims  that the former CBN  governor had delved  into several intervention programmes  such as the Anchor Borrowers Programme,  the 100-for-100 Policy  on Production  and Productivity, the Nigerian  Electricity Market Stablisation Facility, N1 trillion Real Sector Facility,  Agrobusines/Small and Medium Enterprise  Investment Scheme,  and Macro . Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund amongst others described as a drain pipe.

There are indications that over N9.7 trillion in development finance intervention disbursements were allegedly made underthe former CBN governor. The new CBN Management had revealed that about N531.4 billion of the Bank intervention funds still remain used in the coffers of the Commercial Banks.

This may have informed Why the new Management of the CBN, led by Cardoso, , had stopped all the development  Finance interventions, noting that the lines between the monetary and fiscal  interventions had become blurred into core  limited advisory  roles , insisting that ‘’there was a need  to pull the Bank  from the direct development finance interventions that will support  the country’s economic growth.

In the case of Seriki, described as the former Nigerian’s President’s political and the former minister of Aviation who had been quizzed over alleged N8 billion on Nigeria Air it was a dent on the Administration. Besides the alleged fraud uncovered in the ward of Contracts in the Aviation ministry under Seriki, by the EFCC in its investigation, another area of major fraud in the ministry   was the Launch of Nigeria Air.Although, Seriki, the former minister of Aviation had said that not less than N3 billion was expened on the Nigeria Air project, which had the backing of the then Nigerian President, Buhari, Nnaji Nnolim, the Chairman of the ninth House of Representatives Committee  on Aviation , would not take it.  The Lawmaker had revealed that that the unveiling of the so-called Nigeria Air was a fraud.  Note that the former Aviation minister   had unveiled the Nigeria Air about three days the expiration of Buhari’s Administration on May 29, 2023.  It was a chartered Ethiopia Airline aircraft flying the Nigerian Flag described as a ploy ‘’to deflect the Legislators’ attention. Recall the former Aviation minister had asserted that’’ the Nigeria Air   which land at the Nnadi Azikiwe International Airport, at the FCT, was just showcased and not totally launched’’. The Nigeria Air Project, according the House Committee on Aviation was shrouded in secrecy by the Aviation and shoddy’’, a clear case of fraud.

 Olukoyede, the EFCC Chairman had said that opening up on the former minister of Aviation   should be expected  because  the agency  has been investigating  the CBN, Aviation and Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation  ministries , as  he stated that the probes  has  not been  about  only Emefiele,  Seriki  or Betta Edu but everything about the apex Bank and the two Fedral government  ministries.

Seriki: Former minister of Aviation

He was emphatic that it is the system that the antigraft agency is investigating and whosoever is found culpable along the line will beprosecuted as Emefiele, as currently facing trial at an Ikeja High Court. The former Aviation minister, who is from Katsina. Buhari’s home state, had been accussed by the EFCC, of ‘’conspiracy,  abuse of office,  contract inflation , criminal breach of trust  and money Laundering   amounting to the tune of  N8,069,176,864.00’’.

According to the investigating Commission, the sum   was for Aviation Contracts from the immediate past minister of Aviation to a Company known as Engirios Nigeria Limited, owned by one Abubakar Sirika, his younger brother. The EFCC officials had revealed that apart from Abubakar, being listed as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer, CEO, he was the sole signatory to the Company’s two accounts, domicile in Zenith and Unon Banks.

The first of the Controversial contracts  that was said to have been award by the Federal ministry of Aviation during Hadi Seriki’s tenure   to Engirios  Nigeria Limited  was on August  18, 2022 for the construction  of a terminal building in  Katsina Airport, at the cost of N1,345,586,,500.00.

The second of such fraudulent contracts was said to have been awarded to the Company on November 3, 2022 for the establishment of Fire Truck Maintenance and Refurbishment Centre in Katsina Airport, valued at N3.8 billion.  The third contract that was said to have been awarded to the Company on February 3, 2023,   was the procurement and installment of lifts, air conditioners and power generator’s house   in Aviation House, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, at the cost of N615 million while the fourth was said to have been awarded to the minister’s younger brother’s company,  on May 5, 2023, barely 24, days for the minister’s tenure to elapse, for the procurement of  Magnus aircraft and Simulator for Nigerian College of Aviation, Zaria at the cost of N2.2 billion.

An insider had confirmed that the former minister of Aviation   had paid the Nigeria firm N3.2 billion out of the total sum for the four contracts awarded to it. Indeed,  Engirios Nigeria Limited, upon receipt of the huge amount   the tranche of payment for the four contracts awarded to the company, based on EFCC findings had transferred to different companies and individuals with no trace of work done on any of the contract items till date.

Going by EFCC preliminary investigations there was pronounced fraudulent activities in CBN and Federal ministry of Aviation, during Seriki tenure, that the duo may be heading to jail and Buhari, the former Nigerian President may have questions as he may not claim ignorant to such contracts in the Aviation ministry, particular. 

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