• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Ex-minister seeks to delay N37.1bn EFCC probe on health ground

Sadiya Umar Farouq

The former minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, facing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigation into alleged N37.1bn fraud, has requested a delay in meeting with investigators. Citing health challenges, she sent a letter through her lawyer, seeking more time.

The EFCC, however, wants her to appear without delay. The commission’s spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, confirmed the request to The Punch but emphasised the ongoing investigation and the need for her cooperation.

Oyewale said, “The former Humanitarian Minister didn’t appear before the commission yesterday, but she sent in a letter pleading for more time and also explaining that she has some health challenges and that was why she couldn’t honour the invitation. She also sent in her lawyer to meet with interrogators.
“However, the commission has mandated her to submit herself to the commission without further delay. We are still tracing all the transactions, hence we cannot put a figure to everything now as the investigation is still ongoing.”

Umar-Farouq missed an interrogation on January 3rd, prompting speculation of a potential arrest. Sources confirmed the EFCC’s intention to act if she fails to show up again.
The investigation stems from allegations of money laundering during her tenure as humanitarian affairs minister.

A contractor, James Okwete, arrested in connection with the case, reportedly provided details implicating Umar-Farouq and others.

Umar-Farouq, appointed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, had previously served as treasurer for the defunct CPC and APC. Her ministry oversees various agencies, including the National Social Investment Office and the National Commission for Refugees.

Previous investigations by the ICPC revealed irregularities in the ministry’s school feeding programme, including N2.67bn found in personal accounts and suspicious property acquisitions.