The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday and Thursday embarked on a mass arrest of individuals believed to have received part of the $115m (N23bn) disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, through Fidelity Bank PLC.
The money, according to the EFCC, was meant to bribe officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission to manipulate the results of the 2015 presidential election.
Some of the people invited and grilled by the EFCC included Senator Chris Anyanwu and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Ahamba (N700m); a former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the last dispensation, Amb. Aminu Wali (N950m); and a former Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Dr Nurudeen Muhammad (N500m).
Others included the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Cross River State, Mr. Ntufam Okon (N500m), and INEC officials in Kano and Jigawa states.
An impeccable EFCC source alleged that Wali and Muhammad received money on behalf of their respective states.
The source alleged that N400m was also given to the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kano State, Alhaji Mukaila Abdullahi, who died alongside his wife and two children in a fire barely a week after the election.
The source added, “The EFCC, in continuation of its investigations into the N23bn laundered by Diezani during the 2015 elections through Fidelity Bank PLC, has so far unravelled how a total of N5,097,064,000 was disbursed and received by representatives from seven states in the North-West zone of the country.
“Preliminary investigation into the matter has shown that a total of N1,356,620,000 was received by two beneficiaries from Kano State, of which a total of N950,000,000 was received by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the last dispensation, Amb. Aminu Wali, while the balance of N406,206,000 was received on behalf of the late Kano State REC, Alhaji Mukaila Abdullahi, by one Sani Isa, who is a retiree of INEC, Kano State.
“They all, according to investigations, collected the money from Fidelity Bank PLC after due certification of various means of identification as requested by the bank.
“Also, one of the representatives from Jigawa State, who was the former Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Dr Nurudeen Muhammad, received a total of N500,000,000 out of N750,000,000 disbursed to Jigawa State.
“Meanwhile, the representatives of Kano and Jigawa states, including the former employee of INEC, have been taken into custody and investigations are still ongoing as to who the balance of N250,000,000 was given to.
“Other states in the North-West zone are believed to have benefited through their representatives from the N1bn.’’
Another source at the anti-graft agency alleged that Anyanwu, who was the Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy during the 7th Senate, received N700m alongside Ahamba.
“Senator Anyanwu was invited to our Enugu office and was quizzed over the N700m she got through the Ikenegbu Layout Branch of the bank in Owerri. She and Mike Ahamba (SAN), we believe, received the money.
“We suspect that the money was meant to be given to INEC officials,” the source stated.
However, when contacted on the telephone, Ahamba admitted that he and Anyanwu were invited by the EFCC.
He, however, described the allegations as a “misunderstanding”.
The SAN added, “It’s a false accusation. I think there is a misunderstanding somewhere. We didn’t receive any money. We explained to them and they have let us go.
‘‘I didn’t receive any money and Chris didn’t receive any money. We are not the leaders of the party. That we witnessed it does not mean we should be put away. Like I told you, I am in Owerri. If the EFCC had found me wanting, I would be somewhere else now.”
A spokesman for Anyanwu, who did not want his name in print, said the allegations against her were spurious.
“Senator Anyanwu was not the leader of the PDP in Imo State and so, there is no way that amount of money would have been given to her. The allegations are false and should be treated as such,” he said.
Meanwhile, the EFCC has also arrested the Cross River State Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Ntufam Okon, for allegedly receiving N500m from the Diezani’s cash.
Reliable sources at the anti-graft agency told one of our correspondents that Okon was arrested on Thursday in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
Investigations by the EFCC showed that the PDP boss allegedly collected the money on March 26, 2015, two days before the presidential election.
“The money was placed in the transit account at the corporate headquarters of Fidelity Bank but cash was made available to Okon in the Calabar branch of the bank. Okon is in the custody of the EFCC and would be charged to court soon,” the source said.
The Rivers State REC in the last election, Gesila Khan, and four others were arrested by the EFCC last month.
The suspects were held in connection with alleged bribes, totalling N650.9m, traced to their accounts, in connection with the 2015 polls.
Khan, who was the REC in Rivers State during the last general election, allegedly pocketed N185, 842,000 out of the bribe sum under probe by the EFCC.