Thursday, 6 July 2017
Stop ‘shadow-boxing’ Yari, NGF tells EFCC
Governors were up in arms yesterday against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which they accused of “shadow boxing” one of their own.
The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) asked the EFCC to allow Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari face his job.
But the anti-graft agency told The Nation that a member of the House of Representatives had offered to surrender for investigation on how $3million was laundered for a governor from the London-Paris Club refund.
The EFCC source did not name Yari, who is also the chairman of the NGF.
Of the three suspects wanted in connection with the cash, one has refunded about $500,000.
Also, in another investigation, a governor made about 24 calls to pressurise a consultant to launder N500million into a mortgage firm for him.
The consultant was paid about 0.64 per cent of the N19billion and $86million deducted from the London-Paris Club refund and remitted into two accounts of the NGF.
The House member wrote to the EFCC on June 30, saying he is ready for interrogation. But he pleaded for one or two weeks to travel overseas.
The EFCC team was expected last night to agree on a date for his appearance subject to the convenience of the lawmaker.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Concerning the ongoing probe of a $3million traced to another governor from the London-Paris Club refunds, EFCC detectives have been able to identify three suspects and two companies.
“Two of the suspects are from the same parents. They played key roles on how the cash was laundered.
“Out of the suspects, a serving member of the House of Representatives, who was a former commissioner in a state, has been implicated. He actually went underground and evaded arrest in the past few months.”
Asked of the next step, the source said: “Our immediate target actually is to recover the $3million, seize it under Interim Asset Forfeiture and return the illicit cash to the treasury.
“So far, one of the suspects has refunded $500,000. We are waiting for the House member, who controlled how the cash was wired for the governor, to face our team and tell us the whereabouts of $2.5million balance.
The NGF, in a statement signed by its head of Media and Public Affairs Abulrazque Barkindo, said Yari had told the EFCC that he owned no land or hotel in Lagos.
Meanwhile, fresh facts emerged yesterday on how a governor routed N500million cash illegally deducted from the London-Paris Club refunds to a mortgage firm.
Another source said: “A track of the transactions showed that following the payment of about 0.64 per cent commission to a consultant, the governor instructed in less than one hour that the cash should be transferred to a mortgage firm.
“In between the transfer process, the EFCC team discovered that the governor made about 24 calls in desperation to see that the cash was paid to the mortgage firm.
“All the call logs of the governor have been traced and it is obvious that he will be arraigned anytime he is out of office.
“But all those he used to siphon the cash are likely to face trial any moment from now.”
The Presidency has released N1. 266.44trillion to the 36 states in the past two years. This includes N713.70billion special intervention funds to states.
Following protest by states against over deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the release of N522.74 billion (first tranche) to states as refund, pending reconciliation of records.
Each state was entitled to a cap of N14.5 billion being 25% of the amounts claimed.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said the payment of the claims will enable states to offset outstanding salaries and pension which had been “causing considerable hardship”.
The governors sought for the refund to states and local governments at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on May 24, 2016.
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