Ex-president’s aide returns N1.5bn
*Osinbajo to coordinate recovery process, create escrow account
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has met with President Muhammadu Buhari behind closed doors at the State House, New Telegraph learnt yesterday. It was gathered that the two leaders met inside the official residence of the president on Thursday night. The former president, whose administration is being probed by his successor, source said, sneaked into the State House at a time when only a few security officials were at the State House. Only a handful of them who had been briefed of his coming could notice his presence.
New Telegraph learnt of Jonathan’s visit to Buhari just as other sources said a close security aide of the former president, who was recently interrogated by security agents, had refunded to the Federal Government N1.5 billion he allegedly acquired illegally. Although, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, confirmed the meeting between Buhari and his predecessor, he did not give details on the purpose of the visit. The parley between Buhari and Jonathan took place about 24 hours before the president met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the same venue.
Obasanjo paid a late hour visit to Buhari for the first time since the president’s inauguration on May 29. Presidency sources told our correspondent that the meeting between Buhari and Jonathan was not unconnected with the series of investigations that has since commenced over the manner the immediate past administration handled the affairs of state.
New Telegraph gathered that since Jonathan has kept mute over the allegations of stolen crude oil monies and misappropriation of public funds that have been levelled against officials who served under him, he chose to meet Buhari to explain certain misgivings on some issues. The president recently vowed to recover billions of dollars stolen under the administration of Jonathan as he accused the immediate past government of plunging the nation into a financial crisis by throwing all financial and administrative processes in parastatals and agencies to “the dogs”.
Edo State Governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, recently told reporters that the National Economic Council (NEC) Ad hoc Committee on the Management of Excess Crude Account Proceeds and Accruals in the Federation Account was set to hire two international forensic audit firms to probe revenue that accrued into the Federation Account and how it was spent under the Jonathan administration.
Besides, some of Jonathan’s aides, including the National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and his Chief Security Officer, Mr. Gordon Obuah, have been quizzed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Security Services (DSS) to account for their stewardship. However, New Telegraph has gathered that the president’s anti-corruption crusade has started yielding results with the recovery of billions of naira from some officials who served in the immediate past administration.
Already, the Federal Government has concluded arrangements to create an escrow account for the lodgement of the recovered funds. Buhari had sought the assistance of foreign partners and institutions to help Nigeria in the recovery of over $150 billion stolen funds stashed in foreign banks. It was learnt that about N1.5 billion has been recovered from one of the aides of the former president. Multiple sources confirmed to New Telegraph that the money was traced to the aide who could not explain the source of the fund, considered to be proceeds from corrupt practices.
“The security agency has recovered N1.5 billion from an aide of former President Goodluck Jonathan. After a series of investigation, the money was traced to his account, which he could not explain the source as a public servant. “The aide is not alone as some others have voluntarily returned money to the Federal Government to avoid prosecution,” a source in the presidential villa said. It was further learnt that the government has traced $1 billion to a single bank account in one of the western countries.
The money, believed to be proceeds from corruption, was said to belong to an official of the Jonathan administration. “We are making headways. Don’t forget that Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State revealed that one of Jonathan’s ministers stashed $6 billion abroad. As at today, we have traced $1 billion into an account in one of the Western countries. We will soon come up with startling revelations,” the source said. But the Buhari administration is keeping secret the identity of those who have voluntarily returned stolen money.
A presidency official confided in New Telegraph that people are coming up with concrete evidence on the plundering of the nation’s commonwealth by past public office holders and public servants. “People are coming forward with documents on how the treasury was plundered.
Some details of the sordid transactions in the oil sector have been submitted to President Buhari. Nigerians will be surprised with the mindless looting of the treasury with those trusted with the nation’s commonwealth. It’s mind-boggling,” the source said. It was learnt that some of the permanent secretaries and top government officials had presented some damning documents on former public office holders relating to corrupt practices.
“The permanent secretaries did not just brief the president on the situation on ground in their respective ministries, but they presented some documents on some transactions that are not in conformity with due process. So, the briefing some of the permanent secretaries had with the president was revealing. Don’t forget that the permanent secretaries are the chief executives of the ministries,” the source added.
Already, Buhari has mandated Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to coordinate the process of recovery of the stolen funds, it was learnt. A source close to the presidency said Osinbajo had been liaising with some officials and foreign partners who have volunteered to help Nigeria in the recovery of the fund. “We are hopeful that so much money will be recovered.
So, the vice-president has the mandate of the president to create the escrow account and work out other modalities. “The essence of this dedicated account is to ensure proper monitoring and judicious use of the recovered funds not like in the past where recovered stolen funds were mismanaged,” a source familiar with the arrangement said.
Buhari had, last week, stated that his administration had intensified efforts to recover looted funds. “We are getting cooperation from the international community, including information on ships that take crude oil from Nigeria and change direction, or offload their contents into other ships midstream. “Some monies were paid to individual accounts. We are identifying the financial institutions and countries that are involved,” Buhari said. It was learnt that the EFCC was raising a special team to help in the recovery efforts.
A source in the antigraft commission told New Telegraph that operatives had commenced a discreet probe of accounts of former and present management staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries. “The bulk of the money stolen is from the oil sector.
We have beamed the searchlight on the activities of the oil giant and its officials, both former and present, to know their culpability in several unwholesome transactions. We are also extending investigations to oil deals and other transactions in the oil sector. We are working with the NNPC on the inquiry,” an EFCC official said.