Fresh facts have emerged on some of the beneficiaries of the $2.1 billion arms procurement scandal. New Telegraph exclusively learnt that a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and erstwhile governor in the South-West got N100 million each from the N260 million given to the former Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih.
A source close to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) probing the arms scandal involving the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki, told New Telegraph that Anenih, in his letter to the antigraft agency, stated that the former SGF and exgovernor’s groups were given N100 million each for peace advocacy.
It was further learnt that another group from Katsina State got N35 million, while Second Republic Presidential Adviser on National Assembly, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, got N63 million. Anenih, in the letter addressed to the EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, stated that the money was for post-election peace.
He also said the money was transferred to him on the instruction of former President Goodluck Jonathan for specific assignments. In the letter, Anenih stated that he spent over N441 million far above the N260 million he received from the NSA. He said the former president did not balance him on the extra amount spent on the assignment.
The former PDP BoT chair stated that the beneficiaries of the money acknowledged the receipt. Yakasai has explained how he and other members of his group spent the money collected from Anenih. Yakasai told New Telegraph that the said fund was for peace advocacy to traditional rulers in the North, stating, however, that the amount sent to him was not N63 million. The former Special Adviser to former President Shehu Shagari on National Assembly Liaison noted that: “The money was given in two tranches.
The money was given to us around middle of January 2015, and we concluded the tour, middle of February. “The EFCC has not invited me or talked to me, there are many of us in the committee that they have mentioned. I will not mention the exact amount until we get to court. It’s not N63 million,” he said.
Speaking exclusively to New Telegraph yesterday, Yakasai said he was not aware that the fund sent to the group that he led was from the arms deal procurement, adding that he will not mention the exact amount he collected on behalf of the group until the issue gets to court.
In a letter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Anenih, while explaining how he disbursed the N260 million paid into his bank account from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), revealed that he gave N63 million to a group coordinated by Yakasai for the 2015 presidential election. According to Yakasai, “It is not true!
He (Anenih) didn’t give me N63 million. The money he gave to me was the money to energise a group who appointed me to be their leader and the money was for us to go and meet with traditional rulers in all the 19 states of northern Nigeria and appeal to them to be sure that the election is conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.
“There were nine of us, eight of us as members, then my personal assistant. We met with traditional rulers in each of the states in the North. The money was for the allowance of the members of the team, their accommodation and transportation.
But on our own, whenever we visit any traditional ruler, we give some gifts. But that was out of our own volition.” According to Yakasai, other members of the group include, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mamman Anka; former Legal Adviser of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Barrister Bitrus Gwada; former deputy governor of old Benue State, Alhaji Sule Iyaji. Others are a former Commissioner for Finance in Plateau State, Chief John Mankilik; former Commissioner for Education in Kaduna State, Alhaji Suleman Lawan; Senator Danso Sodangi, and a former Managing Director with Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), Dr. Bahago.
He stated that he wasn’t aware that the money was from arms procurement fund. “What I know is that the man called me up and talked about the money,” he said. Meanwhile, the EFCC chairman, Magu, yesterday disclosed that more prominent Nigerians allegedly linked to the deal, will soon be arrested and prosecuted.
Magu warned that there would be no sacred cow in the ongoing fight against corruption. A statement signed by the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said Magu made the disclosure at a meeting with online media practitioners and broadcast media managers.
This was as New Telegraph gathered at about 7:25p.m. yesterday, that operatives of the EFCC were still interrogating the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, over alleged discovery of N1.4 billion “turnover” in a company linked to him.
The Commission’s boss, in the statement said “more influential Nigerians are on the radar of the EFCC and, in the coming weeks, they would have their days in court and Nigerians will be kept fully abreast of the results of the commission’s investigations.”
Magu, who said the essence of the meeting, was to seek support in the ant-graft war, emphasized that: “Apart from bringing corrupt public officers to justice, we are determined, in line with the stance of the current administration, to send an unmistakable message to everyone, that no Nigerian shall be regarded as being above the law or treated as a sacred cow as far as the fight against corruption is concerned. “The EFCC needs you; Nigeria needs your critical support if we are to make any headway in this important campaign against corruption.
“My plea for your support is underscored by my understanding that the forces which we are battling are powerful and some of them may want to use all platforms of the media to distract and derail us. “If and when they come to you, please allow the ethics of your profession, your conscience and overriding national interest to be your guide,” Magu said. He reiterated the fact that he has since re-ordered the priorities of the EFCC, more so with the demonstrable will of President Muhammadu Buhari, to fight graft.
The EFCC boss noted that the judiciary has responded with some practical steps in the form of the designation of selected courts to try cases brought before it by the commission. When asked about the perceived lopsided nature of the arrests so far effected, he said:
“Such accusations have come up a lot, but we work with petitions before us. “In fact, I am eager and waiting for something from the other side, but nothing has come so far,” he said. In another development, Magu revealed that some Bureau de Change (BDC) Operators were found to have withdrawn as much as N500 million in the $2.1 billion arms deal.
The said withdrawals, according to a statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, were made in two, three or four tranches. Uwujaren quoted Magu as expressing worry about the discovery in his office on Tuesday, when BDC operators called on him. “My operatives often tell me what they see during investigations. We need to talk to you, as some of your operators are fond of carrying huge amounts of money out of the country, since they can no longer withdraw more than $300 using the ATM.
“There are fraudulent involvements of Bureau De Change operators in the arms deal scandal. There are reports of some of your members withdrawing as much as N500 million in two, three, four tranches in this arms deal scam. So, I am greatly disturbed.
“I think there should be a documentation regarding your activities, as this will enable your group to checkmate anyone who is involved in any fraudulent activity,” the Commission’s boss was quoted in the statement. Earlier, the Chairman of Bureau De Change operators, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, pledged his group’s partnership in the ongoing anti-graft war.
“Most of the time, fraud is perpetrated within the banking premises. However, whenever there is an issue, it is the Bureau De Change operators who are usually attacked. Another problem is the issue of BVN registration, which I believe should have been extended to three years in order to allow more people to be registered,” Gwadabe said.
The EFCC had quizzed, detained and charged some high profile individuals to court, including Dasuki, former Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, ex-minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, and the founder of Daar Communications Plc., Chief Raymond Dokpesi.