Corruption: CJN, Okonjo-Iweala, Fayemi, Fayose, others under probe – EFCC
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen; Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State; his predecessor and the current Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; and the immediate past Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, are among high-profile personalities currently under its investigation.
The names are contained in the list of high-profile cases involving over 100 politically-exposed persons and top-ranking public officers still being investigated by the EFCC as of August 2017, The PUNCH reliably learnt on Monday.
The list, sighted by one of our correspondents via an EFCC source on Monday, was recently sent by the anti-graft agency to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), based on request.
Sunday PUNCH had reported that the list, sent to the AGF’s office earlier in August, comprised over 100 high-profile cases including the cases of a Justice of the Supreme Court and a judge of the Federal High Court.
Sunday PUNCH has also reported that some former governors, one of whom currently serves as a minister in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, and others serving their terms in the Senate as well as other politically-exposed persons, including some former ministers, senators and some persons are being investigated for the $2.1bn arms purchase scam.
“The list was actually sent in August to the then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and copied the AGF,” another EFCC source said on Tuesday.
The list, sighted earlier on Monday, listed 106 cases under investigation and several others pending in court but either stalled or moving slowly.
It did not disclose the details of the cases under investigation.
It however stated the date each of the over 100 cases was “referred”, the challenges being encountered in the investigation and the source of information leading to the commencement of the probe.
Sources of such information for the cases were listed against each of the cases.
They include intelligence, whistle-blowers and petitions from government agencies and private citizens.
Among other notable names on the list are the incumbent Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, and his predecessor, Captain Idris Wada.
Other former governors on the list include Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, who is currently the Senate’s Minority Leader; Jonah Jang of Plateau State, currently serving as Senator representing Plateau North; Ali Modu Sherriff of Borno State, who recently had a controversial stint as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party; and Chief Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State.
Also listed are the names of Dame Patience Jonathan, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan; and some ministers who served under the Jonathan administration.
Apart from Okonjo-Iweala, former ministers on the list include the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN); a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed; ex-Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, who is currently the Senator representing Anambra North; and a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe.
Alison-Madueke’s husband’s name, Reaf Admiral Alison Madueke (retd.), was also listed.
Also sighted on the list are the names of two men who simultaneously served as media aides to Jonathan – ex-Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, and a former Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe.
Other prominent high-profile persons on the list are a former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Abdullahi Dikko; a former acting Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus; Col. Bello Fadile (retd.), who served under the immediate past National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; the incoming Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati; and Justice Mohammed Tsamiya, who was recently retired compulsorily by the National Judicial Council.
The EFCC stated in the document that it was investigating the CJN based on intelligence referred to it on October 12, 2016. The document indicated that the commission was investigating Okonjo-Iweala based on a petition referred to it on January 28, 2016.
For Fayose’s case, the commission said it received a petition against the governor on August 13, 2016, but the investigation had been stalled due to alleged lack of cooperation from the Ekiti State Government officials.
The commission stated similarly that the case against Akpabio was referred to it on May 10, 2016, but had been stalled due to an injunction granted by a High Court of Akwa Ibom State stopping the probe.
It stated that although the Court of Appeal had set aside the injunction, the Akwa Ibom State Government had proceeded on an appeal to challenge the judgment of the Appeal Court.
Apart from stating that Fayemi’s case was under investigation and giving the name of the person who referred it to the commission, it did not state the date the case was referred.
It stated that the cases against Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and his predecessor, Capt. Idris Wada, were referred to the EFCC on September 29, 2016 and April 16, 2016 respectively.
The case against Patience Jonathan alongside Ariwabu Aruera Reachout Foundation was said to have been referred to the commission on September 26, 2016, while that of Oduah was on April 5, 2016.
The case against Sherriff was said to have been informed by an intelligence report referred to the commission on October 10, 2016.
The commission stated that Diezani’s case was referred to it on June 20, 2016 while it received that of her husband on January 14, 2016.
It stated that investigation into Orubebe’s case, referred to it in 2013, had been stalled due to lack of cooperation from the Ministry of Niger Delta.
The case involving Justice Tsamiya was said to have been referred to the commission on October 17, 2016 while the case file of Justice Kafarati was said to be with the commission’s acting chairman.
The document indicated that the cases against Abati and Okupe were referred to the commission sometime in December 2015.
The file of the former Customs boss, Dikko, was said to have been referred to the EFCC on February 20, 2017.
In his reaction on Tuesday, Fayose’s Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said the state government would not cooperate with the EFCC until it started acting responsibly.
Olayinka stated, “The EFCC should start acting responsibly in the interest of the nation and stop being a willing tool in the hands of the All Progressives Congress.
“We have written several petitions against former governor Kayode Fayemi, now Minister of Mines and Steel Development, which the commission fails to act on.
“The state government will not cooperate with the EFCC under Ibrahim Magu until it starts behaving responsibly.”
When contacted, Fayemi, who spoke through his media aide, Yinka Oyebode, said, “I am not aware of any probe by the EFCC.”
On his part, Okupe said he had appeared before the EFCC to answer some questions on a particular issue.
Though he refused to mention the issue, he said it was not a crime for one to be investigated by a government agency.
The former presidential spokesman added, “I have appeared before the EFCC before on an issue the commission was investigating and I have given them sufficient explanation.
“I have not been condemned or convicted. Investigating politically-exposed persons is normal. So, I don’t see the list as something we should bother ourselves with.”
Akpabio could not be reached for his reaction. When contacted, his media aide, Mr. Anietie Ekong, said, “My boss is still out of the country and I cannot comment on this matter.”
Attempts to get Okonjo-Iweala on Tuesday were unsuccessful as calls to his media Adviser, Mr Paul Nwabuikwu, did not connect while a text message sent to him had yet to be answered as of the time of filing this report.
In his reaction, the Director-General on Media and Publicity to the Kogi State Governor, Kingsley Fanwo, said he was not aware of the investigation.
He said, “Governor Yahaya Bello is a staunch advocate of a corrupt-free Nigeria and will welcome any genuine drive at combating or preventing corruption.
Having said that, I think it is premature and prejudice to comment on a mystery investigation.
“Governor Bello is an incorrigible and incorruptible Nigerian who had been doing legitimate business before his foray into politics.”
Abati neither responded to telephone calls nor text messages sent to his two phones.
The lawyer to Mrs. Patience Jonathan, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), had accused the EFCC of persecuting his client.
Adedipe said the former first lady had sued the EFCC for harassment and he was sure of victory.
The spokesperson for the CJN, Awassam Bassey, could not be reached through his telephone on Tuesday.
Story by: Olusola Fabiyi, Everest Amaefule, Kamarudeen Ogundele, Eniola Akinkuotu, Leke Baiyewu, Ifeanyi Onuba and Ade AdesomojuPunch