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Giving and misgivings: Diversion, looting and outright sharing of funds

(Seventh in the series of an address delivered at the Rotary Foundation dinner/dance at the MUSON Centre, Marina, Lagos on 8th February 2020)

President Buhari’s electoral victory owed much to his promises to fight against corruption. The next Nigerian general election is in February 2019 and he is planning to run for re-election. However, corruption in Nigeria is structural and addressing it will require decades, if not generations. In the run-up to the elections, Buhari will look to highlight examples where his policy has been successful in his first term.”

Also, as confirmation that we are dealing not just with embezzlement of public funds, our remit extends to decadence on a grand scale combined with total collapse of moral value in direct contradiction of Rotary’s Four Wheel Test.  Here is the charge sheet of Nigeria which has gone viral:

We built this place

A lecturer wanting 5 rounds to pass a female student. A policeman demanding 500k for bail. A judge demanding 5 million for judgement. A public servant demanding 50 million for a contract. A voter demanding 5k for his/her vote. A clergy demanding 5-500k for “blessing”.

A leader(s) closes their eyes to corruption and nepotism. A parent offering 50k for ward’s admission into school or paying for exam questions. A society rewarding incompetence. A society closing its mind to murder. A society shutting down common sense.

A society designed to allow the worst to emerge to the top, in many respects. A society that justifies all things in the name of politics, tribe, ethnicity and individual benefit. A society that blackmail others for difference in thinking.

A nation that we have all collectively built. One working towards oppressing the other. Where impunity is rife. Where our default thinking is on wailing or hailing, but never a consideration of the issue. A society with low or no expectations from their leaders.

A society in conflict with itself.  A society where thought is absent. That all issues are swept under the carpet depending on who holds the broom and where all things can be covered depending on where the umbrella tilts. A society where seemingly educated men run away from speaking out in the face of evil so that they will be seen as saints. A society where evil doers are glorified by men who pretend to be gentlemen. A society where men have no regards to the legacy they will leave behind. A society where money is preferred to wisdom.

The sheer scale of the sleaze and corruption is more than enough to neutralise the impact of the generosity and philanthropy of Bill and Melinda Gates.

Front page of “The Nation” newspaper of February 2, 2020, we have the following “nauseating (the stories not the newspapers) reports: Headline (I) Jonathan’s ex-chief of staff in trouble over alleged N35 billion fraud.

  • Son implicated in defence contracts
  • Former defence minister got $240,000 cash from N533 million job
  • Ex-permanent secretary received N170 million, Honda car as bribes

A former Chief of Staff to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Mike Oghiadome, stands the risk of forfeiting two mansions to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after N35 billion arms slush cash was traced to a member of his family.

The mansions are located on Udo Udoma Street, in the posh Asokoro District of Abuja.

The legal unit of the EFCC is already processing the forfeiture of the two assets.

The EFCC has quizzed Oshioke, Ogiadhome’s son over alleged involvement in arms deals.

Ogiad home himself has been invited for questioning but he was yet to honour EFCC’s invitation at press time.

He may be arrested if he fails to show up for questioning.

A ranking member of the House of Representatives who was similarly invited, has been lobbying in the power corridor to prevail on EFCC to drop the summons.

Detectives have however quizzed a defence contractor, Donald Peterson.

Others implicated in the defence contracts are a former Permanent Secretary, a former governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and two former Service Chiefs.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the EFCC made startling discoveries while probing contracts worth N35 billion for the equipping of the Nigerian contingents on UN peacekeeping missions all over the world.

Findings pointed at diversion, looting and outright sharing of the cash leaving those on peacekeeping missions without necessary tools and equipment.

Part of the cash was found to have gone into private accounts.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the EFCC made startling discoveries while probing contracts worth N35 billion for the equipping of the Nigerian contingents on UN peacekeeping missions all over the world. Findings pointed at diversion, looting and outright sharing of the cash leaving those on peacekeeping missions without necessary tools and equipment.

It was gathered that the N35 billion was paid into a bank account with number 0001713716, from where it was depleted.

About 1301 companies including two former service chiefs are alleged to have benefited from the scandal.

A document obtained by our correspondent said in part: “In 2007, the UN told the federal government to equip the Nigerian contingents on peacekeeping missions all over the world. The UN asked the Federal Government to raise the money while it will reimburse later.

“There were three options opened to the federal government namely, (a) borrowing from banks (b) use of normal budget and (c) sourcing funds from the capital market.

“The federal government chose the capital market and directed the Debt Management Office (DMO) to raise the cash.

“In June 2008, DMO raised the N35 billion and transferred it into the account of the Ministry of Defence domiciled in a commercial bank.

“Investigation confirmed that some of the cash were disbursed to different military officers and formations including a former Chief of Army Staff and a former Chief of Naval Staff and a former Permanent Secretary in the State House.

“Contracts were awarded to about 131 companies from the cash.

“Also, about $4,347,529.67 from the votes was allegedly used to establish an embassy in Brazil by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The disbursement of the N35 billion spread from 2008 to 2013 with different purposes being used to divert the money.”

According to the EFCC, the Oghiadomes came into the picture when investigation showed that a contractor, Donald Peterson was allegedly used between 2010 and 2013 to launder some of the cash through award of contracts.

The ex-Chief of Staff was alleged to have wielded political influence to secure juicy contracts for Donald Peterson’s companies including Richfield Technologies Limited and VTB Export/ Import Limited.

Some of the contracts awarded Richfield Technologies Limited were supply of telecommunications equipment (N1,020,000,000); supply of touch recovery vehicles(N80m); supply of Tevex crane( N269 million); purchase of two trainer simulators (N433 million); supply of 65 units of air conditioners (N349 million); supply of 5 units of fuel trailer (N85 million); aircraft refillers (N320 million) and supply of arms and ammunition (N894 million).

As for the VTB Export/ Import Limited, the contracts secured were supply of arms and ammunition (N778 million) and supply of arms to the Nigeria Police (N500 million).

Detectives allegedly uncovered how Donald Peterson paid part of the contract sums into companies owned by Oshioke Ogiadhome, who is a son to the former Chief of Staff.

The document said: “Out of the N1.020 billion telecommunications contract sum Donald Peterson got, he paid over N100 million into the account of West African Business Platform Limited owned by Oshioke Ogiadhome. He also paid another N50million to West African Business Platform Limited on the instruction of Oshioke’s father.

“Donald Peterson paid for two houses in Asokoro for the former Chief of Staff, through his son, Oshioke.

“Investigation confirmed that Richfield Technologies Limited paid N320 million to a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Wole Oke for a house in Asokoro District on 2B Udo Udoma Crescent and another on Queen Idia Street. When we profiled the account of Richfield Technologies Limited, there was evidence of the transactions in another bank account. We are working on clues that it was 10 percent cut.

“The former Chief of Staff’s son equally secured some contracts for arms and ammunition from the Nigeria Police. The contracts were about nine (9) in number with each close to N50 million per slot. We are probing him for about N500 million curious contracts.

“Our team has quizzed Oshioke and Donald Peterson. We have also invited the former Chief of Staff but he has refused to honour our invitation. We may have no choice than to execute a warrant of arrest on him.

“We have referred a request for the forfeiture of the two houses to our Legal Unit. This is being processed.

But when Donald Peterson was interrogated, he said he had been a contractor with the Ministry of Defence since 2002 but in the course of looking for more contracts, he met Oshioke Ogiadhome who told him his father was looking for a trusted person for contracts.

“As for the member of the House, he is yet to honour our summons. He is only lobbying people to prevail on EFCC to drop its invitation.”

On the fate of the contracts, the document indicated that “most of them were rejected by the UN. Other nations, like Ghana, got their refunds in full.”

Other observations made about the contracts were: Contractors could not deliver within the stipulated time assigned which ranged from three to six months; Sub-standard materials were used but accepted by the Ministry of Defence; Some contracts were terminated after full contract sums were paid to the contractors without any refund.

It was also learnt that a former Minister of Defence is under investigation by the EFCC for allegedly collecting a kickback of $240,000 cash from a N533 million contract for the supply of arms.

“One of the suspects admitted that the $240,000 was handed over to the ex-minister in a hotel. The kickback was within the same period the transactions for the two houses were done.

“The suspect said the ex-minister got the cash for facilitating the N533 million contract.”

 

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