The federal government has resolved to trace the whereabouts of the over N1.3trillion said to have been recovered from treasury looters by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Also to be investigated is the whereabouts of the N80billion and assets seized from corrupt public officers by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences and Commission (ICPC) and Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT).
It has consequently raised three committees to find the money.
The committees were constituted by the Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), The Nation gathered yesterday.
Specifically, the panels will find out what became of the assets and cash recovered from the late Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, one time Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, and pension thieves.
Well placed sources said the panels are expected to reconcile the records of the EFCC, ICPC and the Pension Task Force in arriving at their conclusions.
According to one of the sources, the presidency opted for the committees to enable it have a “true picture of the recovery records of the anti-graft agencies.”
He said the government was concerned that “politics is creeping into the whereabouts of the assets and cash got from looters.”
“All the committees are multi-agencies, including the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Nigeria and anybody managing remittances from these anti-graft agencies.
“The committees will also consider court judgments, assets seized abroad and cash and assets under Temporary Assets Forfeiture Clause.
“The committees will interact with present and past heads of anti-graft agencies and Pension Task Force. The government is not after maligning anybody or group but it is out to streamline records and present the real situation to Nigerians.
“These are more or less purely fact-finding committees to resolve all lingering issues on the status of the recovery by these agencies.”
Responding to a question, the top source said: “For instance, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said it has so far recovered over N80bn looted funds.
“The funds include N23b funds stashed in 40 banks across the country by looters. ICPC has also received over 4,497 petitions with 899 concluded, while 470 are still pending in court.
“These committees will locate all these funds, how much has been utilised and for what purposes. This will require going through remittances into the Federation Account.”
The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (OAGF) confirmed the setting up of the committees last night.
The International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) recently issued a Red Alert on the former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, giving the relevant security agencies to arrest Maina in any part of the world.
The Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr.Wilson Uwujaren, said Maina was wanted for his alleged role in the fraudulent biometric contracts through which he and former Head of Service, Steve Oronsaye and two others allegedly mismanaged over N2billion of pension funds.
Maina was on July 21, 2015 charged alongside Oronsaye, Osarenkhoe Afe and Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited before a Federal High Court on a 24-count charge bordering on procurement fraud and obtaining by false pretence.
While Oronsaye and two others were in court and pleaded not guilty to the charge, Maina is nowhere to be found.
However, on July 21 when the court heard the bail applications of the accused persons, Maina through his counsel, Esther Uzoma told the court that he was not at large, claiming that the EFCC had never invited him.
The setting up of the committees by the federal government is coming on the heels of the Senate’s declaration of the immediate past Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde wanted over the whereabouts of the N1 trillion which the agency recovered from treasury looters
At its plenary session on Thursday, the Senate directed its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to issue a warrant of arrest on Lamorde to compel him to explain the whereabouts of the money in EFCC’s custody.
One Dr. George Uboh had petitioned the Senate to probe the matter.
Uboh, Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems (PASS), had alleged that EFCC under Lamorde short-changed the federal government in the remittance of funds and properties recovered from the late Alamieyeseigha and a former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun.
The anti-graft agency, according to him “has descended into the abyss of corruption and financial crimes.”
He added: “EFCC operates accounts in banks to warehouse recovered funds, which do not reflect in EFCC’s audited accounts. EFCC doctors and manipulates bank accounts to conceal diversion of funds.
“EFCC releases recovered funds to unidentified persons and EFCC officials. EFCC moves funds from its recovery accounts to EFCC operations accounts from where it diverts same.
“Over 95% of EFCC’s recoveries in foreign currencies, other than those from multinational companies, have been diverted.
“EFCC trades with recovered funds through bank deposits and placements.
“EFCC colludes with real estate companies in order to grossly undervalue seized assets before there are sold to their cronies.
“EFCC has not accounted for offshore recoveries.
“Over half of the assets seized from suspects are not reflected in EFCC exhibit records.”
Uboh claimed that the amounts of money recovered by the EFCC from Alamieyeseigha and Tafa Balogun were at different times falsified by officials of the agency with a view to perpetrating fraud.
Lamorde, a senior police officer, is yet to be arrested.
He is currently attending the Senior Executive Course 38 at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies at Kuru, near Jos.
When reporters approached him at the institution on Friday to respond to the Senate’s decision to have him arrested, the former EFCC boss said he would have to get a clearance from his bosses at the Police Headquarters to say anything on the issue.
However, his lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, had earlier asked the Police authorities disregard the Senate threat to arrest Lamorde.
He branded the Senate action as “legislative rascality”, and said the police should “resist the invitation to drag themselves into this illegal scheme.”
Keyamo said he has already filed a suit at the Federal High Court seeking an interpretation of the powers of the Senate with respect to investigations.
He said the Red Chamber refused to defend itself in court following which the Committee set up to probe Lamorde was restrained from proceeding with its assignment pending the determination of the substantive suit.
He said: “whilst there is no restriction on the powers of a court of law to issue a Warrant of Arrest against anybody who fails to honour its summons, the Senate’s own rules forbid it to do anything in respect of matters that are pending in a court of law.
“The conducts of the Senate and the committee amount to legislative rascality as they seek to usurp the powers of the judiciary and to undermine its authority. We most respectfully urge the Nigeria Police Force to await the outcome of the matter pending in court before deciding one way or the other about the enforcement of the said Warrant of Arrest, if eventually issued.”