The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC explained, yesterday, why it has not arrested former President Goodluck Jonathan following startling revelations on how the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col Sambo Dasuki (retd) allegedly disbursed over $2.1 billion meant for arms purchase to various individuals.
Explaining why the former president has not been arrested while speaking with online news publishers yesterday, in Lagos, the EFCC boss, Mr Ibrahim Magu said that no document has been traced to Jonathan giving any approval for the disbursement of the money for any purpose other than arms purchase.
He said that all those questioned so far in connection with the money were people who disbursed or collected it for reasons other than the purchase of arms and ammunition.
“All approvals by former president Jonathan did not mention that it was for political purposes.
All the memos approved by him were for the purchase of arms,” he said.
Speaking about Olisa Metuh, the EFCC boss revealed that the national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party said he would rather go on hunger strike than refund the N400 million he allegedly collected from Dasuki.
Magu also said that Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former boss of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, was recently re-arrested after new evidences of alleged embezzlement of N34.5 billion and another N600 million were linked to him.
The EFCC chairman stressed that the war against graft was not selective and assured Nigerians that his agency was not teleguided in the ongoing anti-corruption fight.
According to PDP, since former President Jonathan was still alive, he should come out and explain to Nigerians whether he authorized his former National Security Adviser to distribute money meant to fight Boko Haram into his campaign.
Meanwhile the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has called on its members, who collected money from the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), to return it immediately.
The party said it didn’t ask any of its members to collect money on its behalf during the last general elections.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Ibrahim Jalo, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Saturday.
Jalo said he was happy that those who claimed to have received money from the embattled retired army officer had not said they received the huge money on behalf of the party.
Some influential members of the party are currently being prosecuted for allegedly benefiting from the money, which was meant to procure arms for the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
Among those currently facing different charges before different courts in Abuja are Dasuki; the acting Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party, Alhaji Haliru Bello; and the founder of DAAR Communications Plc, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, is currently being detained by the EFCC over alleged corruption.
A former Chairman, Board of Trustees of the party, Chief Tony Anenih, who admitted that he received N260m from Dasuki, had reportedly explained how he distributed the money.
He said he gave N100m each to the former Minister of Finance, Chief Olu Falae, and a former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, adding that he gave a former presidential adviser, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, N63m.
While Metuh allegedly got N400m from the former NSA, the spokesperson for the opposition party had maintained that he was paid for an undisclosed job which he said he did for former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Jalo disagreed with the claim in some quarters that the actions of the members of the party were capable of having negative effects on the once ruling party.
He said, “When people say that this party benefitted from the money meant for arms, I laugh. This is because we didn’t as a party get a dime from the former NSA.
“The party therefore has nothing to do with anyone who has collected money from the former NSA. Anyone, who has collected money from him, should return it. They are on their own.
“They will face trial without the party’s coming to their rescue. PDP is a clean party that has not taken money meant for the procurement of arms and ammunition or from the Federal Government.”
He challenged the government to probe further and come out with the outcome of such investigations to show that the party took money from the government to fund its operations.
“All those who collected money from Dasuki used their personal companies to do so. We didn’t send them,” he added.
Meanwhile, the party has faulted the release of a stalwart of the ruling All Progressives Congress and former military administrator of Kaduna State, Brig.-Gen. Jafaru Isa (retd.), who is said to be an associate of President Muhammadu Buhari, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
It said the refusal of the EFCC to release Metuh was an indication that the agency was not fighting corruption but on a clampdown on its leaders.
The PDP said in a statement by the National Legal Adviser, Mr. Victor Kwon, in Abuja on Sunday that there could be no clearer indication that the APC-led administration was on “a witch-hunt against PDP leaders, and that it has a personal grudge against Chief Metuh.”
Kwon queried the action of the EFCC in freeing Isa while Metuh was still being detained even when the two were being investigated over the same allegation of receiving funds from the office of the NSA.
His statement added, “The release of Isa, a known associate of the President and chieftain of the APC eight hours after his arrest, while our spokesman remains in detention even when the two are being investigated over same allegation, clearly shows that the President Buhari-led APC government is not fighting corruption but using the much-hyped crusade as a cover to persecute PDP leaders and decimate the opposition, a project the EFCC has clearly yielded itself as a willing tool.
“We ask: how can the EFCC now explain to the world that it is not corrupt and ‘teleguided’ by the Federal Government to persecute PDP leaders?
“What happened to the illegal holding charge upon which it has detained the PDP spokesman beyond the limit stipulated by Section 35(5a) of the constitution and in violation of his guaranteed personal liberty under the law?”
Kwon asked whether there are two separate sets of laws; one for PDP leaders and perceived foes of the Buhari-led government, which allows them to be detained beyond constitutional limits without being charged to court and another set, for associates of the President and APC leaders, which guarantees them a slap on the back and immunity from investigation and prosecution, and if arrested, an immediate release.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria said it had yet to commence any investigation into the role played by Deposit Money Banks in the $2.1bn arms funds scandal.
It said since the probe of the arms deal began a few months ago, there had not been any formal complaints to the apex bank about any conspiracy by DMBs in the arms procurement scandal.
The Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Alh Muazu Ibrahim, told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview on Saturday that the bank was currently not involved in the investigations being carried out by the anti-graft agencies.
He said before the apex bank would swing into action in investigating the roles played by any bank, there were standard procedures that must be followed.
One of them, according to him, is that a formal complaint must be made to the CBN, informing it about any act of misconduct or complicity by banks in the scandal.
He said, “There has not been any complaint against the banks as we speak now and in any case, it is not our direct responsibility to carry out such investigations.
“There are standard procedures that must be followed in matters like this and at the moment, we are not involved in the investigations, However, if there are complaints against any bank, then it would be looked into.”
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the roles played by banks in the disbursement of funds in the arms deal might be minimal as they were not directly involved in the release of the fund.
A top bank official, who pleaded not to be named as he was not officially permitted to speak on the matter, said since the bulk of the fund for the arms deal was released by the CBN in dollars, it was the management of the CBN and the finance ministry that should be asked to explain their roles in the disbursement of fund.