by Yusuf Alli
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has located the whereabouts of N15billion of the N23.29billion ($115m) allegedly offered as a bribe by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in connection with the 2015 elections.
The bribe was for the purpose of compromising the result of the elections which the party’s presidential candidate Dr. Goodluck Jonathan lost to Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Fourteen directors of four oil firms suspected of substantially bankrolling the N23.29b poll bribery scandal have also been identified by the anti-graft agency while some former Ministers arrested in connection with the scandal were battling for bail last night.
They are: former Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Muhammad (N 500,000,000) and ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs in the last dispensation, Ambassador Aminu Bashir Wali (N 950,000,000).
Some of their former colleagues are shocked by the alleged involvement of the ex-ministers in the disbursement of the slush funds.
Well-placed sources said last night that the EFCC had traced over N15billion of the bribe cash as follows: the Seven North-West states- N5,097,064,000; REC and five others- N681m to; Cross River PDP chairman- N500m; INEC officials in Oyo and Ogun- N359m; Fidelity Bank- profit of N49.7m from the deal; two politicians from South-East- N700m.
The source said: “EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu and his crack team have gone far in tracing more than N15billion of the N23.29billion, which was shared by party leaders and INEC officials in the six geopolitical zones to influence election results and to stop APC from being declared as the winner of the 2015 presidential election.
“Some of the beneficiaries have started refunding the cash given to them. We have the list of all beneficiaries from Fidelity Bank. This is one of the reasons why we kept the MD of the bank and Head of Operations in custody. Our priority is to recover the bribe cash.
“By the time we get reports from all the geopolitical zones, we would have tracked down the bribe sum. Findings confirmed that the poll bribery cash was shared between February and April 2015 in a desperate and untidy manner.
“Our concern is not about any party but the use of proceeds from stolen oil to bribe INEC officials.”
The $115million (N23.29b) bribery scam was allegedly facilitated by the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
One of the 14 bank directors has been quizzed by the anti-graft commission; The Nation gathered yesterday.
The oil barons are believed to have contributed $88.35million of the $115million (N23.29b) remitted to Fidelity Bank by the ex-Minister.
The investigation revealed that the EFCC obtained the list of 14 directors of the firms from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
A source said: “From the list obtained from CAC, about 14 directors of the four oil firms involved in the bribery scandal have been identified.
“We are screening the list to know the roles played by each of the directors in the bribery offer. We will invite these barons for interrogation any moment from now. We will also release their names to the public soon.
“Some of these directors or owners of the oil firms are stakeholders in a few other oil companies which were highly favoured by Diezani.”
Besides Diezani Alison Madueke, who is under investigation abroad, some of those quizzed so far are the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo; Head of Operations, Martin Izuogbe; Cross River State’s Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Ntufam John Okon (N500m); former Minister of State, Foreign Affairs Dr Nurudeen Muhammad( N 500,000,000); ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs in the last dispensation, Ambassador Aminu Bashir Wali– N 950,000,000; Retired INEC staff, Sani Isa — N 406,206,000; Leno Adesanya ($1.85m); Sen. Chris Anyanwu and Mike Ahamba(N700m).
Others are REC Gesil Khan for collecting N185, 842,000 out of an N681million bribe deal; Fidelia Omoile (Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State)–N112,480,000 ; Uluochi Obi-Brown ( INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State)–N111,500,000; a former Deputy Director of INEC in Cross River state, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC in Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo–N214,127,000.
Sources said last night that the ex-Ministers, who were taken into custody on Wednesday, have been battling for bail.
“We will grant them bail as appropriate after we may have concluded our investigation. Their counsel was mounting pressure on us for bail as at Friday but I cannot tell you the exact status now,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the camp of ex-ministers in the administration of former President Jonathan was split yesterday following revelations on how huge cash was disbursed to some of their colleagues for the 2015 poll.
A reliable source in the camp said: “I am just ashamed to read about this scandal because I never knew such a scandal was being perpetrated. It is mind-boggling.
“Some of these ministers implicated in the bribery scandal were pretentiously running to their colleagues to beg for money during and after the general election. They thought they had covered their track.”
Another ex-Minister said: “I am shocked beyond words. I was in the cabinet but more of a passenger. Even the ex-President was not fair to some of us.”