by Yusuf Alli, TheNation
More arrests are on the way in the probe of the huge cash some oil companies pumped into the failed bid to change the 2015 presidential election results. Some of the cash has been recovered.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested some bankers. It plans to haul in some oil barons who contributed $115m (N23, 299,705,000billion) to bribe some Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials. The officials were to alter the results of the election in which President Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) beat then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
The owner of an oil company, Leno Olaitan Adesanya, yesterday reported at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja for interrogation.
He was however asked to go to the commission’s office in Lagos for questioning.
Two others, who have been summoned by the EFCC, were said to have gone underground and incommunicado.
The EFCC has recovered N408.7million from some of the beneficiaries of the slush funds.
Fidelity Bank refunded N49.7million, its profit from the disbursement of the N23.29billion provided by former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Some former and serving INEC officials in Oyo and Ogun states refunded N359millon.
More officials of INEC were said to have rushed to the EFCC to refund the bribe given to them.
The EFCC team has intensified its investigation into the scandal.
It was learnt that besides INEC officials in the 36 states, the EFCC has invited the owners of the oil firms which contributed $88.35million of the $115million sent to Fidelity Bank by the ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources.
One of the four oil firms implicated in the bribery saga has been linked to former Governor of Delta State, who is serving a jail term in the United Kingdom, James Ibori.
It was gathered that the oil companies were mandated by Mrs. Alison-Madueke to part with $88.35million as their contribution to Dr. Jonathan’s campaign.
Some of the oil chiefs were shocked by the findings of the EFCC that their donations were deployed in bribing INEC officials, The Nation learnt.
An EFCC source, who spoke in confidence, said:”Our investigation into the N23.29billion bribe has reached a critical stage. Six teams are working round the clock in all the geopolitical zones.
“The top officials of Fidelity Bank in custody have made statements, including the list of all beneficiaries and bank details of payments made to them.
“We are likely to arrest more suspects, especially the oil chiefs who provided about $88.35million of the $115million lodged in Fidelity Bank for conversion to naira.
“One of the clues we are probing is the likelihood of these funds being laundered by the oil firms and their owners.
“If these clues are proven, they may eventually face trial for money laundering. We will surely interact with these oil magnates.
“Some oil companies are under surveillance for their covert operation in diverting taxes and revenue meant for the Federal Government to fund campaigns. You can now understand why some of them were given tax waivers.”
The source added: “One of the oil chiefs, Leno Olaitan Adesanya, reported at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja but he has been directed to go to the Lagos office.
“We are expecting him for grilling on Friday (today). We have invited other oil chiefs, but two of them have gone underground. We will fish them out wherever they are.”
Fidelity Bank and some former and serving officials of INEC have refunded about N408.7million to the EFCC.
While the bank refunded N49.7million, some former and serving INEC officials in Oyo and Ogun states paid back N359millon
A top EFCC source said: “While scrutinizing their records, we discovered that Fidelity Bank made a profit of N49.7million from the disbursement transactions made in all its branches nationwide. The management of the bank on Thursday refunded the profit while we are continuing the investigation into other funds.
“Some former and serving INEC officials in Oyo and Ogun have paid back N359million to EFCC. What happened was that while N802m was voted for bribery of INEC officials and NGOs in Oyo State to change presidential poll results, about N629m was dished out in Ogun State,
“But some of these beneficiaries in Oyo and Ogun were suspicious of the sources of the funds. They cooperated and went to the designated Fidelity Bank branches and collected the cash. Instead of spending it, they sought the service of lawyers who advised them to open accounts to keep the money in case there are issues in the future.
“When this matter came up, the lawyers assisted in locating the funds and the N359million was refunded.
“We are working on other beneficiaries to recover the slush funds.”