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The immediate past Minister of Finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Tuesday denied media reports that stated she was being probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The EFCC had on Monday said it will soon begin the probe of the roles of some principal officers in the former Goodluck Jonathan administration, including the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; her counterpart in the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; and an oil magnate.
The Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, was reported to have said this in Abuja when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes to defend the commission’s 2016 budget proposals.
In his presentation before the lawmakers on Monday, Magu tactically avoided giving direct answers to questions on whether Alison-Madueke would come under the searchlight of the agency.
The anti-graft agency’s boss merely responded to such questions by saying, “The commission will soon move into the petroleum sector”, but called on the National Assembly to support the efforts of the agency by making more funds available for its operations.
Shortly after the presentation of the EFCC’s chairman, however, a member of the committee, Mr. Razak Atunwa, told reporters that Magu actually informed the committee that Alison-Madueke, Okonjo-Iweala and the oil baron would be investigated.
Atunwa was the lawmaker, who asked Magu the question on whether the commission would probe the oil sector.
Atunwa added, “I said the EFCC has recovered a lot of money for Nigeria and he (Magu) mentioned that in that regard, more sectors of the economy are likely to come under investigative activities.
“I said ‘will it include the petroleum sector’? He said, ‘yes’. And I said ‘would it include investigating the following people – Diezani Alison-Madueke, Okonjo-Iweala and a particular oil magnate’, and he said ‘yes’; those people are already under their investigative radar.”
But the former finance minister in her reaction said in a statement issued by her Media Adviser,Mr Paul Nwabuikwu that what was reported is a “misrepresentation of what the EFCC Chairman actually said during the event.”
The statement reads in part, “We want to clarify that some of the media reports alleging that the EFCC is investigating former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, are misleading and untrue.
“This is clear from eye witness accounts of the Budget 2016 presentation by the EFCC at the House of Representatives and gaps in the reported stories.
“The headlines are a misrepresentation of what the EFCC Chairman actually said during the event.
“While the headlines claimed that the EFCC Chairman, in response to a question by an APC, member Hon Razak Atunwa, stated that Dr Okonjo-Iweala is under investigation, the actual words quoted in the same reports told a very different story.”
The statement by the minister claimed that what was reported in the media was not a true reflection of the account of events adding that “The Nigerian media plays an important role in our democracy and we urge them to be fair, balanced and factual in their reports.”