President Muhammadu Buhari, has ordered the 3-man Presidential Panel Probing Committee, headed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to suspend all government officials, including Ministers, linked in both the Ikoyi loot and grass cutting scandal.
The Panel, comprising the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, is probing the allegations of violations of law and due process, made against the suspended SGF, in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North-East, and the $43 Million recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in Ikoyi.
The Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, on Friday, had tendered bulky “evidential” documents, regarding the recovered fund.
Recall, that the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, had already been linked to the Ikoyi scandal, by the former Minister of Aviation, Fani-Kayode, and Lere Olayinka, Spokesman to the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose.
Already, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, had been suspended, as major actors in the alleged corruption episode.
The Panel, constituted on Wednesday, was given a 14-days deadline, to submit its report to Buhari.
The source said: “The President has authorised the panel to suspend all government officials linked to the two cases. He has asked the panel to do this, even before the conclusion of its assignment.
“The President has been informed of the involvement of other government officials in the two issues being investigated. More officials have been linked to these cases, and Mr President has given the panel the mandate to suspend more people.”
Another source hinted that President also instructed the Committee to do a thorough job.
He said though Buhari had confidence in the Panel’s members, he wanted them “to leave no stone unturned.”
The suspended SGF and the NIA Director-General on Wednesday, appeared before the Investigation Panel, hours after the Presidency announced their suspension.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said in a statement, that the Panel “will conduct its work with utmost diligence, and without fear or favour.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated the presidential panel probing the allegations against the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, to suspend all government officials linked to both cases.
A top Presidency source told a correspondent yesterday that Buhari on Friday authorised the three-man investigation panel, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to, before the conclusion of its assignment, suspend all government officials involved.
The panel, comprising the National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno and the Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami, is probing the allegations of violations of law and due process made against the suspended SGF in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North-East.
The committee, which swung into action on Wednesday, is also investigating the discovery of $43.4 million by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The National Intelligence Agency had made a claim to the recovered fund. The panel, constituted on Wednesday, was given a 14-day deadline to submit its report to President Buhari.
The source said: “The president has authorised the panel to suspend all government officials linked to the two cases. He has asked the panel to do this even before the conclusion of its assignment.
“The president has been informed of the involvement of other government officials in the two issues being investigated. More officials have been linked to these cases and Mr President has given the panel the mandate to suspend more people.”
Another source hinted that president also instructed the committee to do a thorough job. He said though President Buhari had confidence in the panel’s members, he wanted them “to leave no stone unturned.”
The suspended SGF and the NIA Director-General on Wednesday appeared before the investigation panel hours after the Presidency announced their suspension.
The acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, on Friday tendered bulky “evidential” documents regarding the recovered fund. The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said in a statement yesterday that the panel “will conduct its work with utmost diligence and without fear or favour.”
According to him, the panel, in the discharge of its work, is expected to invite all relevant officials and private individuals who may be connected to both cases.
Osinbajo’s spokesman said the panel would also obtain and scrutinize documents that “may throw some light on the issues raised in both cases.”
Akande further stated that all proceedings of the panel “will however be in closed sessions to avoid speculations, allow for full disclosure and enhance the pace of proceedings.”
Prof. James Momoh has been nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari for the position of Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Friday, PM NEWS report.
The President’s nominee to the Senate for confirmation is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; and Director of Energy Services and Controls at Howard University, United States of America.
Prof. Momoh, a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, has over three decades of teaching and research experience in power system, smart grid, optimisation and power communications.
The 1987 recipient of the National Science Foundation-US White House Presidential Young Investigator Award is a widely published scholar and has held several professional leadership positions in the academia.
READ: Power generating stations release 3,767Wh/hour of electricity – Report
Momoh has a Doctorate degree in electrical engineering from Howard University; Master’s degrees in systems engineering from the University of Pennsylvania; and electrical engineering from Carnegie University.
He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1975 from Howard University.
President Buhari, therefore, maintained that Prof. Momoh had the technical knowledge, capacity and integrity to lead the Commission’s effort to bring about the much needed CHANGE in Nigeria’s power sector.
In a statement on released on Thursday in Abuja by Bolaji Adebiyi, the Director of Press in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of a new Board and Executive Management for Rural Electrification Agency.
The statement stated that Umaru Maza Maza had been appointed the Chairman of the Board while Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi was appointed the Managing Director.
Bolaji said Dr. Sanusi Ohiare was appointed the Executive Director, Rural Electrification, Muhammad Wasaram, Executive Director, Technical Services and Yewande Odia, Executive Director, Corporate Services.
The director of press said Alozie Mac and Rotimi Thomas were appointed non-Executive Directors.
He said the President had also confirmed the appointment of Saleh Dunoma as the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
He said Capt. Mukhtar Usman was also confirmed as the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Capt. Fola Akinkotu as the Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
The appointments were with immediate effect.
The suspended Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ayodele Oke, has met with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, where he admitted that his agency received the sum of $289,202,382 on the orders of former President Goodluck Jonathan in February 2015.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, ordered the suspension of Oke over the role of the NIA in the ownership of $43m (about N13bn) and other currencies uncovered in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Buhari also ordered the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, in connection with his indictment for contract fraud by a Senate ad hoc committee on mounting humanitarian crisis in the North-East.
A top government source, on Thursday, confided in one of Punch correspondents that the Osinbajo-led committee had directed Oke to submit documents to back his claim.
It was learnt that the suspended NIA boss had also gathered documents which would be formally submitted to the panel showing that the transaction was approved by Jonathan through the embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
It was learnt that the transaction was known as an intervention fund for national security or special services with the aim of fighting insurgency during the six weeks period between February 14, when the Presidential/National Assembly elections were postponed and March 28, when the polls were held.
However, operatives of the EFCC are said to be working on the theory that the money was meant for the prosecution of the 2015 general elections.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said, “The DG of the NIA has met with Vice-President Osinbajo and will submit documents pertaining to the transaction.
“The DG admitted on record that the transaction was authorised by former President Jonathan and Col. Sambo Dasuki, and as such, was simply following orders from the commander-in-chief. He will submit memos and other documents as evidence.”
Explaining how the transaction took place, the source said a memo was raised by the National Petroleum Investment Management Service on February 25, 2015, two weeks after the postponement of the presidential election for ‘security’ reasons, based on Dasuki’s advice.
According to the memo, NAPIMS asked the CBN to release $289,202,382 to the NIA in cash. The money was received by the NIA and kept in a safe house.
When asked why President Muhammadu Buhari was not briefed on the existence of the cash, the source said, “The DG NIA informed top security people in the government of the existence of the cash.
“Specifically in January 2016, a letter was written by the DG NIA to the NSA, Babagana Moguno, on the existence of the cash. The memo exists and will also be submitted to the panel.”
It was gathered that one of the posers the NIA would solve was why the apartment, where the money was kept, was registered in the name of the wife of the DG, Mrs. Folasade Oke.
“One question the suspended NIA boss must answer when he meets with the panel is why the apartment used for an official matter was registered in his wife’s name,” the top government source said.
Efforts to get the NNPC through the Group General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Ndu Ughamadu, were not successful as his mobile indicated that it was not reachable.
A detailed text message was sent to him on the matter, but he had yet to respond as of the time of filing this report on Thursday.
NAPIMS is a subsidiary of the NNPC.Attempts to get comments from the CBN were also not successful as repeated calls made to the acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr Isaac Okorafor, did not connect while a text message sent to him on the issue had yet to be responded to as of press time on Thursday
Panel to invite NAPIMS, CBN officials, others
It was learnt that the Osinbajo-led panel would also invite the Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and some directors of the apex bank to explain why such a huge sum of money was released in such a manner.
One of our correspondents also gathered that officials of NAPIMS would also be invited to explain why the money, which did not go through appropriations, was released.
EFCC to monitor airports, get warrants to search more properties. It was learnt that the EFCC was working on the theory that more of such huge funds, belonging to the NIA, might be stashed in some secret locations.
A source told The PUNCH that the commission had obtained warrants to search more properties in urban areas of the country.
One of our correspondents learnt that the EFCC had asked sister agencies to be on the lookout at various airports to ensure that none of the affected persons was allowed to flee the country.
Senate panel expresses doubt on Osinbajo-led probe
Meanwhile, the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis, whose interim investigative report indicted the SGF, Lawal, has expressed doubt on the probe ordered by the Presidency.
The Chairman of the Senate panel, Senator Shehu Sani, while featuring on a breakfast programme by Television Continental, TVC Breakfast, on Thursday, said an investigation of the SGF by the Presidency could give Lawal a soft landing eventually.
He stated that the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and the Nigeria Police could be asked to probe the SGF.
Sani added, “What I am saying in this aspect is that the best institution to investigate the SGF is one recognised by the law (to carry out the task), which is the EFCC, ICPC and the police.
“That is why we are being very cautious in endorsing the investigation in the Presidency. What I am afraid of is soft landing, which I don’t think will be in the best interest of the anti-corruption crusade.”
The immediate past President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan has come under intense pressure to abandon the peace process he initiated in the troubled Peoples Democratic Party.
According to The Punch, investigations showed that the former President was also no longer interested in how to bring the two factions in the party together.
Already, the National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has distanced himself from the peace process.
His deputy, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, revealed that the party under Sheriff would no longer take part in the peace process, which ended in confusion about two weeks ago.
Sheriff, the former governor of Borno State, had led members of his National Working Committee out of the party’s stakeholders meeting on April 6, in Abuja.
The meeting, which was called by the former President, was aimed at discussing the crisis in the party, with a view to resolving the logjam.
But while Sheriff and his team walked out of the meeting, members of the sacked national caretaker committee, members of the party’s Board of Trustees and other stakeholders stayed behind with the former President.
A bewildered Jonathan, who later described the action of Sheriff and his team as unfortunate, had promised to set up a 40-man team to fashion out how to find a political solution to the crisis.
According to The Punch, the spokesperson for the caretaker committee, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, said on Thursday in Abuja that the former President had yet to demand the six-man team the faction ought to contribute to the peace committee.
He stated that the reluctance of Jonathan to continue with the process could be as a result of the pulling out of the process by the Sheriff group.
He added, “We have not been asked to give the names of those that will represent us (caretaker committee) at the panel.
“Don’t forget that the Sheriff group said it would not be part of the process anymore. That could be the reason. If they say they are not taking party, who are you then going to reconcile?
“I don’t know and I can’t say what is delaying it, but since the other party said it won’t take part, it is obvious that that could be the determining factor.”
Ojougboh said the party under the leadership of Sheriff would forge ahead without those he described as vultures.
While walking out of the Jonathan’s peace meeting, Sheriff had said, “The party, as of today, has one national chairman, which is Ali Modu Sheriff. There is no PDP meeting that will take place under any arrangement that I will not make an opening remark as a national chairman.
“I think that Governor (Seriake) Dickson (of Bayelsa State) made a proposal, and we have accepted it. Other people have a programme to bring agenda which is not part of the proposal.
“And as a national chairman of the party, what I told you people in my office that I will not be a party to anybody using me for his personal agenda; I will not.”
Since he took the action, it was gathered that some members of the party, including about two governors, had called on the former President to jettison the idea of setting up any committee.
A source close to the ex-President, who spoke on condition of anonymity, argued that it was in the interest of Jonathan to allow the matter to be resolved by the Supreme Court.
The source stated, “It is in the interest of the former President to allow the Supreme Court to settle the leadership crisis in the party once and for all.
“We have told him this. He doesn’t need to allow himself to be disgraced the way Sheriff and his people treated him at the meeting we had the other day.
“So, instead of allowing himself to be messed up, he should wash his hands off the crisis and watch as events unfold.”
Efforts made to speak with the former President on the issue was not successful
Calls made to the telephone of his media aide, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, were not returned while Eze equally failed to respond to a text message sent to him.
Eze had told The Punch last week that he was going to find out from his principal when he would constitute the 40-member committee.
A former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido has described the President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war as a ‘noise.’
Lamido, a former minister of Foreign Affairs, while speaking with the BBC Hausa Service yesterday, claimed that President Buhari could not be passed as a saint because he was “equally corrupt when he served under the late Head of State Sani Abacha.”
Buhari had served as chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) which was established by Abacha in 1994 to provide critical infrastructure across the country.
“He (Buhari) worked under Abacha; in fact he was the closest to the late military ruler and when it comes to corruption, everybody knows where Abacha’s government stands,” Lamido said.
“Buhari is just making noise; there’s no iota of truth in the so-called commitment to the improvement of security and halting graft in the country”, he added.
Lamido, who was reacting to the recent discovery of huge amount of money in an apartment in Ikoyi wondered why the anti-graft agency was yet to trace the real owner of the money.
He said, “It’s unthinkable to say that the EFCC had discovered huge monies (nearly N15 billion) in a building (Osborne Towers) in Lagos but could not track the real owner; who leaked the story? Who did the source say is the owner of the find?
“No reasonable person will believe that there is no safe for the NIA (which claimed ownership) to keep its money but a private residence in Lagos; those in position of authority should always have the courage to tell the led the truth because leadership is sacred.”
In a statement signed and released on Wednesday in Abuja, the senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, described the Governor Nasir El-Rufai as a betrayer and ingrate for trying to belittle the current government and its national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The outspoken lawmaker who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, said a recent comment by the governor where he said the south west had not contributed much to the current administration was a misnomer.
He described Governor El Rufai as a party member who hugs Buhari and Tinubu during the day but only to sting them at night, adding that the contributions of the former Lagos State governor and the Southwest to the victory of the APC in the last general elections, was unparalleled, contrary to El-Rufai’s claim.
According to Shehu Sani, without Tinubu, the victory over the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would have remained a mere dream.
While describing Tinubu as the “lungs of the APC while President Buhari is the heart’, the senator said it was unfortunate that “el-Rufai, who smiles with Tinubu during the daylight, stings him at night”.
He said, “The memo written by Kaduna Governor which tends to belittle the contribution of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Southwest is sad and unfortunate. It is perfidious and the height of ingratitude.
“We must accept the stalk truth that without Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the principled position of the south West, dislodging Goodluck Jonathan and the then ruling PDP could have still remained a pipe dream, a hollow hope or a political mirage. El-Rufai defecated on a broom that is supposed to clean the littered floor of the nation.
“President Buhari is the heart of APC and Asiwaju is the lungs. Tinubu’s contribution to the success of the party is unequal. El-Rufai smiles with Tinubu in broad daylight and stings him at night. He hugs Tinubu with a chest of hooks and shakes him with toxic palms.
“Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a man who built a castle for others to live and asked to appreciate the gift of a room in the boys’ quarters. Those who rubbished a hunter who borrowed them his arrow to disable an antelope will someday come back for same arrow to disable a lion.
“Tinubu honoured many official invitations to Kaduna, unknowingly; he was back-stabbed with an acidic memo. Tinubu has a history of being betrayed and has a history of overcoming betrayal.
“The future of the APC is with Buhari and the Southwest. Without Buhari and the Southwest, the change train will derail and end in smithereens like the fate of Yoguslavia or Soviet Union.
He added, “President Buhari should be watchful of those who prey behind him and pray before him. Tinubu is an indispensable major component of change. My knowledge of Tinubu dates back to the NADECO days when we were in the trenches during the struggle against military dictatorship.”
Sani called on El Rufai to apologise to Tinubu and the people of south west for his crude comment.
“El-Rufai should publicly apologise to Tinubu and the Southwest for degrading their contribution to the liberation of Nigeria. To insult a man publicly and apologise to him privately is eat your cake and have it.
“Those heavily drinking from the liquor of power should know that they will later or lately have to drive back home,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday ordered the suspension of the Director General of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, over discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, over which the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has made a claim.
The suspension holds pending the outcome of the investigation.
Here are four sins of the Intelligence chief:
1. Alleged abuse of office.
2. The implication of the wife of NIA DG on how the safe apartment was secured to keep the $43.4million was found to be ‘abnormal’.
3. Non-disclosure of the cash to President Buhari after almost two years in office was also said to be “unexplainable.”
4. EFCC Interim Report on the $43.4million made available to the Presidency.
The Nation reported that the outstanding records of the DG of NIA made the Osinbajo’s meeting with committee members late Wednesday solemn but it was decided that there should be no scared cow.
In what looks like an apparent disclosure of the ownership of the 13 billion Naira retrieved in a residential apartment at Osborne towers, Ikoyi, Lagos few weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the Director General of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, over possession of the such funds.
According to Nigerian Bulletin analysis, Mr. Femi Adesina’s press statement released on Wednesday, it clearly showed that the Presidency has admitted that the recovered fund belong to the National Intelligence Agency, headed by Amb. Ayo Oke.
According to the statement, President Buhari has also inaugurated a three-man Committee comprising the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the National Security Adviser, headed by the Vice President, is to conduct investigation into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds, how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA, and to establish whether or not there has been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.
The Committee is to submit its report to the President within 14 days.
The most senior officer in the NIA, is to act, during the period of investigation.
As part of investigations into the 13 billion Naira, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had also searched apartments of the immediate past Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; and a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Adamu Mu’azu.
Other prominent persons, living in the building, include a former Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mrs Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue, and C.E.O of Ebony Life Television, Mo’ Abudu.