Home News N37b fraud: Buhari’s minister faces EFCC interrogators Wednesday

N37b fraud: Buhari’s minister faces EFCC interrogators Wednesday

8 min read
0
0
3

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has invited former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq over an ongoing probe into the N37,170,855,753.44 allegedly laundered under her watch through a contractor, James Okwete.

The former minister was asked to appear before interrogators at the EFCC headquarters, Jabbi, Abuja next Wednesday, to explain the alleged fraud, an exclusive document seen by our correspondent on Saturday revealed.

The document read in part: “The commission is investigating a case of money laundering involving the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development during your time as minister.

“In view of the above, you are requested to kindly report for an interview with the undersigned. Scheduled as follows: Wednesday, 3rd of January, 2024. Time: 10am. This request is made pursuant to Section 38 (I) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 & Section 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011″.

Sunday PUNCH could not reach the ex-minister for comments on Saturday as her telephone indicated that it was switched off. Fer former media aide, Nneka Ikem told the newspaper off and proceeded to switch off her phone.

“As you’re asking me? I’ll be asking you too, where did you learn that the EFCC has invited her”, Ikem queried before ending the call. Subsequent calls indicated that her phone had been switched off.

Umar-Farouq had earlier denied knowledge of the contractor, who is still being held by the anti-graft agency.

The former minister tweeted on her X handle on Monday: “There have been a number of reports linking me to a purported investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission into the activities of one James Okwete, someone completely unknown to me.

“James Okwete neither worked for, nor represented me in any way whatsoever. The linkages and associations to my person are spurious. While I resist the urge to engage in any media trial whatsoever, I have however contacted my legal team to explore possible options to seek redress on the malicious attack on my person.

“I remain proud to have served my country as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with every sense of responsibility and would defend my actions, stewardship and programmes during my tenure whenever I am called upon to do so”.

EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale declined comments on the ex-minister’s invitation.

“I’m not around at the moment, and I can’t speak on that, please”, Oyewale said to Sunday PUNCH.

The newspaper had earlier reported that the EFCC had arrested Okwete in connection with the ongoing probe into the N37.1bn allegedly laundered by the ministry under Umar-Farouq.

A top EFCC official, who confided in our correspondent, said the contractor had made useful statements concerning Umar-Farouq and former directors-general of agencies under the ministry.

The development coincides with the probe of three other ministers, who served under former President Muhammadu Buhari for alleged graft estimated at N150 billion.

“It is not only Umar-Farouk we are investigating. Three other former ministers are also under probe. They were allegedly involved in graft to the tune of N150bn,” a credible source in the EFCC had confided in our correspondent.

Sources revealed that Umar-Farouq and some former directors-general of agencies under the ministry might be arrested by the commission following the details of the alleged financial misappropriation so far revealed to interrogators by the contractor.

Investigations by the anti-graft agency allegedly revealed that the N37.1bn was transferred from the Federal Government’s coffers and sent to 38 different bank accounts domiciled in five legacy commercial banks belonging to or connected with Okwete.

Okwete is said to be cooperating with investigators. According to EFCC officials, the contractor was arrested four days ago.

A source said: “The contractor, Mr. Okwete, who was used in laundering the money, has been arrested by the commission. He is currently in our custody and has been giving investigators more details that have indicted the former minister and some DGs under the ministry, and they may be brought in anytime soon too”.

Another source said: “The contractor involved in the N37.billion fraud has been arrested and will spend Christmas in our custody. He has given some names, and the former humanitarian affairs minister and directors-general in the ministry were linked to the fraud”.

Umar-Farouq was the pioneer Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, assuming office in July 2019 as the youngest cabinet member.

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Breezynews
Load More In News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

2 dead, 13 injured in Ijebu Ode-Benin expressway crash

Two people have died while 13 other passengers sustained injuries on Saturday in an accide…