A senior Nigerian lawyer, Femi Falana, has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes, EFCC, to promptly investigate a range of dealings involving alleged diversion of public funds over the years by government establishments, including the central bank, under former governors, Chukwuma Soludo and Lamido Sanusi.
Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, had not taken steps to recover billions of dollars “either criminally diverted or illegally withheld” from the government account.
He said the EFCC needed to act now given “the increasing pressures being mounted on the Federal Government by the parasitic faction of the ruling class to auction the remaining assets of the nation.”
The comment followed calls by a businessman, Aliko Dangote, and the Senate president, Bukola Saraki, for the government to sell national assets to stem recession.
Mr. Falana listed the following cases for investigation:
1. By a letter dated January 27, 2016, the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) disclosed to us that from five cycles of independent audit reports covering 1999-2012 it had confirmed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, some oil companies, and certain agencies of the Federal Government had withheld $20.2 billion from the Federation Account. Despite repeated requests from some civil society organizations, the Federal Government has refused to recover the said sum of $20.2 billion.
2. Sometime in 2006, former Central Bank Governor, Profesor Chukwuma Soludo removed $7 billion from the nation’s external reserves and doled it out to 14 Nigerian banks. Two years later, the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (the current Emir of Kano) also gave a bailout of N600 billion to the same banks. The request of some civil society organisations for the recovery of the huge loan of $7 billion and N600 billion from the commercial banks has been ignored by the management of the Central Bank.
3. On September 6, 2016, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced that arrangements had been concluded to recover the sum of $9.6 billion in over-deducted tax benefits from joint venture partners on major capital projects and oil swap contracts. Although the NNPC has recovered the said sum of $9.6 billion, it has failed to remit same to the Federation Account without any legal justification.
4. In 2009, Mobil Oil Producing Nigeria Unlimited applied to the Federal Government for the renewal of three oil blocks. Upon granting the application, the NNPC asked Mobil to pay the sum of $2.5 billion for the renewal of the licenses. While Mobil made a part payment of $600 million, it undertook to invest the outstanding sum of $1.9 billion in the energy sector. But as Mobil did not invest the said sum in the energy sector the Civil Society Network Against Corruption has requested the EFCC to investigate the fraudulent transaction.
5. From 1998-2014, the Federal Government successfully recovered over $4 billion from the Abacha loot. However, based on the refusal of the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to account for the recovered loot the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) applied to the Federal High Court for an order of mandamus. Even though the Court granted the order, the Federal Government has failed to account for the recovered loot. In the circumstances, we have submitted a petition to the EFCC to investigate the alleged criminal diversion of the recovered loot.
6. In the Appropriation Act, 2011, the sum of N245 billion was earmarked for fuel subsidy. In violation of the Act, the Central Bank of Nigeria headed by Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi paid the sum of N2.5 trillion to a cabal of fuel importers. Following our petition, the EFCC conducted an investigation into the fraud, but the exercise was compromised due to pressure from the former Jonathan administration. Even though the EFCC has charged some of the suspects to court, the investigation ought to be reopened with a view to getting to the root of the monumental fraud.
Mr. Falana offered to “provide all relevant documents to facilitate your investigation of the serious economic and financial crimes disclosed in this petition.”
“In view of the foregoing we are compelled to request you to use your good offices to recover the sums above of money and proceed to prosecute the corporate bodies and individuals involved in the economic sabotage which has contributed to the nation’s economic recession,” he said.
Messrs. Soludo and Sanusi could not be immediately reached for comments.