Tuesday, 14 March 2017

N500m Paris Club cash recovered from governor

Four more suspects have been grilled over the investigation of the N19billion illegally deducted from the London-Paris Club loan refund. Besides, about N500million of the cash has been traced to the account of a governor. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives are probing how the money, which was meant to pay a consultant, found its way into the yet unnamed governor’s account. President Muhammadu Buhari will soon get an interim report on the scandal, The Nation learnt yesterday. Seven governors allegedly played key roles in diverting part of the N388.304billion refund into two accounts opened by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF). The EFCC is investigating the scam. A source, who pleaded not to be named because he is not allowed to speak on the matter, said: “In spite of the protestation of some governors, the EFCC has decided to conclude the ongoing probe of the N19billion diverted from the loan refund. “Detectives have grilled four more suspects and retrieved bank details on how funds were wired into some accounts. “EFCC operatives traced about N500million, which was meant for a consultant, to the account of a governor. The cash has since been paid back after the discovery. “The operatives are trying to determine whether or not the governor is also one of the consultants engaged for advisory service by the NGF. “The details of how the refunds were diverted will soon be made public, especially those involved,” the source said. Responding to a question, the source added: “The President is expected to get a status report from EFCC on the investigation. “It is a challenging moment for EFCC but its leadership is unwavering. Some of the beneficiaries of the N19billion have vowed to frustrate the confirmation of the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, if he goes ahead with the probe.” A Presidency source, who spoke in confidence, said: “President Muhammadu Buhari, who is awaiting briefing, will not shield anyone implicated in the scandal. “The President had an understanding with NGF on what the refunds should be used for. He will not spare any infractions. When he saw the diversion coming, the Presidency issued a warning. “I think the ultimate goal of the Presidency is to recover the N19billion intact.” Seven governors have been fingered in the alleged diversion of the cash. Two accounts (a naira account and a domiciliary account) were used to disburse the controversial cash by the NGF. Apart from the payment of 2 per cent of the refunds to consultants, about 3 per cent was shared out to some governors. Investigators described this as “curious”. The Nation exclusively reported that the Presidency was uncomfortable with the attitude of some governors to the management of the refund. The Federal Government released N388.304billion of the N522.74 billion refund to 35 states as over-deductions on the London-Paris Club loans. States on top of the list with huge reimbursements are those controlled by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), contrary to their claims of being oppressed by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. The big earners are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Katsina, Kaduna, Lagos, Imo, Jigawa, Borno, Niger, Bauchi and Benue. Only Kano State and the FCT did not benefit from the reimbursement. Ondo was paid 50 per cent (N6,513,392,932.28) because the state was in a period of transition from one governor to another. The top beneficiaries are: Akwa Ibom – N14,500,000,000.00; Bayelsa – N14,500,000,000.00; Delta—N14,500,000,000.00; Kastina -N14,500,000,000.00; Lagos – N14,500,000,000.00; Rivers -N14,500,000,000.00; Kaduna – N14,362,416,363.24; Borno-N13,654,138,849.49; Bauchi – N12,792,664,403.93; Benue – N12,749,689,453.61; Sokoto—N11,980,499,096.97; Osun– N11,744,237,793.56; Anambra– N11,386,281,466.35; Edo– N11,329,495,462.04; Cross River – N11,300,139,741.28; Kogi – N11,211,573,328.19; and Kebbi – N11,118,149,054.10. The Federal Government reached a conditional agreement to pay 25% of the amounts claimed subject to a cap of N14.5 billion to any given State. Balances due thereafter will be revisited when fiscal conditions improve.

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