N3.1b ‘fraud’: EFCC traces memo to ex-Villa perm sec
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives have intercepted a memo for the release of the N3.145billion allegedly given to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign for disbursement to six party chieftains and the Goodluck Support Group (GSG).
A former permanent secretary generated the memo from the Presidential Villa, The Nation learnt yesterday.
But there were conflicting views on whose instructions the unnamed ex-permanent secretary acted.
One of the beneficiaries said the memo was allegedly based on the instructions and approval of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, who is yet to speak on allegations that he authorised many “curious” payments before the 2015 general election.
It was learnt that the some of the beneficiaries ran to the ex-President for help because he reportedly approved the memo. The EFCC is insisting that the cash must be refunded.
A source said: “We have uncovered a memo which was raised by a former Permanent Secretary for the release of the N3.145billion by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Preliminary findings indicated that the idea to wire money from the CBN actually came from the Presidential Villa.
“We are looking into all clues in order to identify more public officers and PDP chieftains involved in the alleged diversion of public funds from the CBN to the campaign directorate.
“After completing the first stage of investigation, we will then invite some of the suspects for interrogation”.
Responding to a question, the source added: “The CBN also has all relevant records on the N3.145billion, including the approval from the Presidential Villa.
“We will get to the roots and retrieve every kobo. We will certainly quiz more people in the days ahead.”
It was learnt last night that one of the beneficiaries admitted that the memo was sent to the CBN, allegedly based on the instructions and approval of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Another source said: “The beneficiary claimed that the memo directly showed that the ex-President gave the order to the ex-Permanent Secretary. The idea emanated from the Presidential Villa to shore up campaign funds.
“Some forces in the defunct Campaign Directorate however said Jonathan did not know anything about it. They said they felt betrayed that the process for the release of the funds was not open.
“Some of these directorate officials collected money from other public institutions. The EFCC must look at all angles.
“We want EFCC to unveil those behind the memo. Now that the secret is known, it is convenient to shift all blames on the ex-President. We are suspecting foul play.”
The EFCC discovered that about N3.145b was paid into the accounts of six chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Goodluck Support Group (GSG) in the build-up to the last presidential elections.
The beneficiaries include a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode (N840m); a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Olu Falae(N100m); a former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman(N36.9m); a former Imo State Governor, Achike Udenwa and a former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuliri(N350m) and Okey Ezenwa(N100m).
Udenwa acknowledged receipt of some money from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Yes we received money in Imo State for the presidential campaign.
“It was paid into a joint account that I and the former Minister of Education (state), Prof. Viola Onwuliri, were signatories to.”
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode said: “I served as the director of Publicity and I was told to set up an account for the directorate, which I did. I never received money from the CBN but, like all the other directors, we received money from the director of Finance.
“I was assured that the monies were not public funds but were sourced from private individuals. I never knowingly spent government money all through. The monies were spent specifically on the campaigns. The accounts were audited and we were commended by the President.”
The Ondo State Chapter of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) defended Chief Falae, saying:
“The EFCC at one point said the N100m was from Dasuki, a lie which has now been effectively debunked. Now they are claiming that money was from a company known as Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited, an entity totally unknown to Chief Falae and the SDP.”