Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s probe of the Accountant-General of the Federation (AG-F), Ahmed Idris, over alleged N109 billion money laundering is yielding results, the agency’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, said yesterday.
Bawa spoke at the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Bawa’s revelation came barely four weeks after a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) sitting in Maitama heard that Idris had voluntarily returned about $900,000 in cash.
An EFCC official, Hayatudeen Ahmed, who was testifying as a witness in the trial of Idris and three others, said the returned cash was part of the N109 billion allegedly diverted under the watch of the suspended AG-F.
The court also heard how N84.7 billion was taken from the $2.2 billion due to the nine oil-producing states, and shared by some senior government officials.
Bawa defended the EFCC, saying the anti-graft has the freedom to investigate the suspended AG-F without being teleguided.
He said: “The EFCC is independent; nobody tells us what to do or investigate, how to investigate, or what to cover and what not to cover. No!
“One of the last major investigations we did was that we arrested the Accountant-General of the Federation.
“Out of those fraudulent activities discovered, the EFCC has recovered over N30 billion, and we’re already prosecuting them.”
Presenting his agency’s scorecard, Bawa told reporters that the EFCC has recovered about N136 billion and remitted it to the coffers of the Federal Government in the past seven months.
Giving details of the recoveries, which covered various proceeds of corrupt practices and were denominated in both local and foreign currencies, Bawa said the funds are to be committed to funding major ongoing infrastructure projects.
He listed such projects as the Abuja-Kano Highway, the Second Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, among others.
According to the EFCC boss, the breakdown of funds included N120 billion, $29 million, 6.6 million euros and about £1.1 million, all of which aggregated to N136, 651,505,114 in the local currency.
Bawa said: “I want to state here that the POCA, which is the Proceeds of Crime Act, 2022, mandates that all relevant agencies must open what is called the Confiscated Assets and Properties Account in naira and foreign currencies and that all finally forfeited funds that belong to the Federal Government should now go into that account.
“Before now, we had to pay the money into a designated account.
“But with POCA, this is where we now keep the different government assets recovered. And we have carried out an audit.
“From our EFCC recovery account, we paid N120 billion and $29 million, about 6.6 million euros, and about 1.1 million pounds into that.
“The President has sanctioned that all those monies should be utilised to provide critical infrastructure in the country.
“So, the funds will be used for the completion of the Abuja-Kano expressway, the second Niger Bridge, and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, among other funds that the Federal Government is getting.”
He further revealed that last month, the EFCC recovered another N201 billion from oil firms defaulting on royalties to the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and the three per cent statutory payment to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Bawa gave the breakdown to include $354 million, N30 billion and $30 million.
The EFCC boss said: “Here are some of the things we have done in indirect recoveries in November 2022.
“We recovered $354 million for the NUPRC in terms of royalties that one of the oil companies has not paid. Our investigations led to that recovery.
“For the recoveries that we’re making for NDDC, for instance, between now and probably next week, we’ll transfer to them about N30 billion and about $30 million.
“These are recoveries we have made from oil companies that have refused to pay the three per cent statutory payment to NDDC.”
He, however, did not provide the names of the erring oil companies.
“It is only from one company that the $354 million was recovered.
“I have forgotten the period, but it is an investigation done by our Lagos Command and we have evidence of payment that the said companies made.
“Because of the sensitivity of some of these things, we will leave it at that.”