By Lateef Adegbite
G corruption appears to have become become a culture and tradition in Nigerian over the last seven years. That much was confirmed by Godfrey Igwebuike Onah, a Catholic Bishop. He had said that the situation had been made worse because the University Professors, who were hired as the Electoral Officers aand who incidentally are members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, had connived with the Independent National Commission, INEC, because they have collected money to install a misfit ruling class in the country. ‘’ I weep for this country’’, he had said.
The recent incident where Arrested Ahmed Idris, the Accountant General of the federation was arrested by the Economic, Finance and Crimes Commission, EFCC, over alleged diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of about N80 billion confirms the Clergy man Statement.
The Accountant General was said to have been arrested on Monday, May 16, 2022 , being the last day that President Muhammau Buhari had asked the ministers and other political appointees including Ambassadors, nursing political ambition to tender their resignation letters to pursue their new vocation. The arrest of the Accountant General, may have encouraged Hajia Zainab Ahmed, the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning who was in the process of resigning to suspend him from office.
Many believe that Hajia Ahmed could have taken the bold initiative suspend the AGF, because she did not follow the Presidential directive to resign immediately Like Chris Ngige, minister of Labour and Employment, Paulline Tallen minister of Women Affairs, pursuing Senatorial Seat in Plateau Abubakar Malami, minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, vying for Kebbi state governorship an and others.
Wilson Uwujarem, EFCC, spokesperson had said in a Statement that the Commission’s intelligence showed that the embattled AGF, ‘’raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates’’. The anti-graft agency had said that ‘’the funds were laundered in real estate investments in Kano and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. The arrest of the AGF, on Monday, May 16, 2022, by the Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, EFCC’s men may exposed the rot in the office over the years.
In suspending the AGF, from office on Thursday, May 18, 2022. Tanko Abdullahi, Special Adviser to the minister on Media and Communications, had said that ‘’the suspension was to allow for proper and unhindered investigation into the allegations of money laundering and bogus consultancies using proxies, family members and associates against him by the EFCC, in lines with public service rules’’.
The Media Aide may have spoken the mind of Hajia Ahmed, when he disclosed that he is ‘’suspended without pay’’, noting that within this period of the suspension, ‘he is not expected to be at work or have any contact with the office’’. Informed sources told The Value News, that Hajia Ahmed, the minister, of Finance, Budget and National Planning, who has the full backing of the President and she is in the process of setting up a probe panel on the AGF.
Political analysts believe that if the EFCC, has not beamed its searchlight on the office of the AGF, which had exposed the rot and his investments in real estates in Kano and Abuja, nobody, the mess would have continued.
There is no gain saying the fact he may have witnessed the frequent withdrawal of funds in the ministry which may not have been used for the purpose to which they were meant for that he had devised his own method of dipping his hands into the public till .He may have got it burnt because the office of the Auditor General of the Federation in its report over the last seven years had consistently indicted the Accountant General’s office of various lapses. This may have encouraged the EFCC, to beam its search light on the office over the last one year and became convinced that the AGF, needed to be thoroughly investigated.
The embattled AGF who is currently been investigated by the EFCC, was appointed by the Nigerian President on June 25, 2015, during his first term in office, following the retirement of Jonah Otunla, the former AGF and reappointed in 2019.
While Idris, the AGF, is gnashing his teeth, for allegedly dipping his hands into the public till, Nsima Ekere, a former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NNDC, who was said to have contested the governorship primaries of Akwa Ibom state twice, on the ticket of the ruling PDP and the Opposition APC, in the state but lost appears to be facing the same problem.
. Buhari, was said to have appointed him as NDDC, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, in 2016 but removed him in 2018, over alleged corruption charges in 2018. He may have expected that he would been given a respite by the EFCC after removal from office, he got it wrong. The anti-graft personnel agency personnel are still after him over alleged use of contractors to siphon the funds.
Godswell Akpabio, a former governor of the south-south state and minister of Niger Delta, may have made the case of Nsima, worse when he revealed that ‘’there are 13,000 abandoned projects in the region between 2001 and 2019. Much of the contracts were said to have been awarded between 2016 and 2018, during Nsima’s tenure.
But the report of the Audit Committee set up by the President showed that ‘’there were over 13,000 abandoned projects in the region and that some of the contractors have returned to site on their own and completed about 77 roads projects before the submission of the forensic Audit Report .
Recall that the ECC, had reported that the former NNDC boss was arrested over alleged diversion of funds to the tune of N47 billion through registered contractors of the agency. There is no gainsaying the fact that the President had made it clear to those that cares to listen that that ‘’the government will ensure that every recoverable kobo traced to any serving and former top official of ‘’the Commission is recovered for use in the service of the people of the region and those found culpable shall facet the law’’. This is where Nsima may be dragged to Court by EFCC to face the charges leveled against him, the same way that that the Accountant General of the Federation may be dragged to Court over the allegations against him and diversion of N87 billion.
Note that in two weeks, the All Progressive Congressive Congress has recovered N2.7 billion from 27 presidential aspirants when University Lecturers and students whose Parents have paid their school fees are are home due to ASUU, of almost four months strike, meaning that the government could meet the Association’s Financial demands if it wishes to do so for students to go back to their various schools and continue their studies.