•I’ve no link with stolen $3bn, says Omokore
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has disclosed that the United Kingdom is investigating alleged fraud perpetrated during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
Osinbajo disclosed this in a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, yesterday.
The vice president’s spokesman specifically disclosed that Jonathan and two people in his cabinet got N88 billion, illegally, in one day.
Akande insisted that Osinbajo was not lying when he spoke at The Platform, last week, when he (the vice president) said “grand corruption remains the most enduring threat to our economy.
“Three billion United States dollars was stolen in what was called the strategic alliance contacts in 2013, three Nigerians were responsible, today $3 billion is NI trillion and our budget is N7 trillion.”
In his reaction to a report attributed to “Jonathan’s Media Office,” on previous allegations, Akande disclosed how the looting under Jonathan has been a subject of criminal investigation and trials, even in the UK.
The VP’s spokesman listed what he called “facts on grand corruption” carried out under Jonathan’s administration, which he described as a tip of the iceberg.
He stated that the “facts” are “the release of $289 million on February 25, 2015, illegal disbursement of N60 billion…most of which ended up in the hands of senior members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP–then ruling party), $3 billion stolen in the so-called NNPC Strategic Alliance Contracts, N40 billion from CBN, released for the PDP presidential primary, among others.”
Akande also said the amount released from the CBN, in cash, on a single day, “that is, $289 million ( N88.1 billion) is enough to fund 244,000 N-Power graduates for a year, or pay for 1.2 billion school meals or complete half of Lagos-Ibadan or half of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano roads.
“We have read reports attributed to “a media office of former president Goodluck Jonathan… It is clear from the foul language of the authors, that the statement could not have come from the former president but from the motley group of loud and rude characters whose brief seems to be to deny all and anything said against the former PDP government and to do so in the crassest possible language.
“The alleged spokespersons of the former president said that facts belong in the public domain, some even being used to prosecute several corruption cases are lies and that those of us in government restating these well known facts are liars.
“They accused vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, of lying against the former president or his government, citing their involvement in the stealing of $3 billion. Two issues emerge: First, no mention was made of the former president.
“Second, the story is not only true, it has been in the public domain for almost three years and it is the subject of criminal investigation and trials; both here and in the UK.
“The spokespersons also said allegations of corruption against the PDP government are mere lies.
“For clarity, the facts are laid out as follows:
“As the vice president said, $3 billion was stolen in the so-called NNPC Strategic Alliance Contracts.
“The three persons involved were Jide Omokore, Kola Aluko and the former Petroleum Resources minister, Diezani Alison- Maduekwe.
“The companies of both Omokore and Aluko lifted Nigerian crude oil and kept the proceeds.
“The total sums converted is in excess of $3 billion including royalties, taxes and fees unpaid for the asset from which the crude was taken.
“The case is the subject of a trial in Nigeria, and criminal investigation in the US and UK and the assets of all three individuals have been forfeited in Nigeria, the US and the UK….”
Regardless, Omokore’s legal team pushed back, yesterday.
His Chief Counsel, RA Lawal-Rabana (SAN), insisted in a statement that his client did not, in concert with anybody, steal $3 billion as contained in Akande’s statement.
“The relationship between Jide Omokore’s company–Atlantic Energy, with NNPC/NPDC is well documented as a commercial transaction of which there has been part performance. There is nothing illegal or fraudulent about the transaction.
“The matter is already before the court of law, in a criminal proceeding yet to be concluded and there is no pronouncement of guilt or corruption against our client.
“The rule of law requires that a man is presumed innocent until adjudged guilty through a fair judicial process. Therefore, in this case, we wonder where the emphatic conclusion from the office of the vice president came from.
“In the best tradition of the Bar, when a matter is sub judice, as senior counsel, I will not delve into the merit or otherwise of the ongoing trial except to say and caution against prejudicing the public and the entire judicial process.
“We, therefore, urge the office of the vice president to exercise restraint in branding people as corrupt; without a judicial pronouncement to that effect.
“In conclusion, having regard to the facts and circumstances of this particular case, we believe that the office of the vice president has been misinformed.”
“The criminal diversion and theft of sums in excess of $2.5 billion, meant for purchase of arms to prosecute the war against Boko Haram: the first phase of the investigations revealed several sordid details, many of the assets of culprits have been seized from them and they are facing trial.
The release of the sum of $289m in cash on February 25, 2015: Documents including cash vouchers indicate that the the sum of $289,202,382 was taken from the Joint Venture (JV) Cash Call Account No. 000-0000-11658-366 of the NNPC/NAPIMS with JP Morgan Chase Bank, New York, USA.
N70 billion was released in parts from the national treasury between January 8 and February 25, 2015.5.In another illegal disbursement, 25th August 2014, N60B in cash in tranches of N40billion and N20billion: The sum was not tied to any project or procurement and was then shared between two security agencies under the supervision of the then NSA. Most of these sums ended up in the hands of senior PDP members some of whom have returned parts of the loot. Some are standing trial for these offenses. These facts are in the public domain.
There was yet another set of illegal fund withdrawals under one week between January 8 and 16, 2015, where the sum of N1.5 billion was released in three tranches of N300m, N400m and N800m respectively. This money was released from the MEA Research Library Account .
Another document showed that N10 billion was released to the Office of the National Security Adviser by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on September 15, 2014. The money was released in tranches of foreign exchange of $47 million, $5 million, 4 million Euros and 1.6 million Euros. A letter from the Office of the NSA in November 2014 further showed that the monies were released as ‘funds for special services’. This particular release of N10B was sourced in November 2014 from a N40 billion CBN released funds meant for Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR. Investigators showed that this money was released for the PDP Presidential Primaries.
Lamido Sanusi, then CBN Governor, was sacked for speaking up about the over $20billion missing from oil proceeds.
These cases of grand corruption and open looting of public resources pauperized Nigeria and left us with little or no savings in the years when oil was selling at 100 to 114 dollars a barrel and we were producing 2.1 million barrels a day.
When in 2015 oil prices went even as low as between 28 and 35 dollars a barrel and oil production fell to less than one million barrels a day we had no buffer, no savings, to tide us through.
The amount released from CBN in cash on a single day, ie the US$289M ( N88.1Bn) is enough to fund 244,000 N-Power graduates for a year, or pay for 1.2 billion school meals or complete half of Lagos-Ibadan or half of Abuja-Kaduna -Kano roads.
The vice-president also made the point that in 2014 with oil prices as high as 120 dollars per barrel, the total capital released for power, works, housing, defence, transport, agriculture and defence were just N152Billion for the whole year.
By contrast, the Buhari administration committed N578Bn to the same ministries in 2016 with oil prices as low as US$28 per barrel as part of the strategy to end the recession. The government was able to do more with less by stopping grand corruption and impunity.
Recently, the minister coordinating the economy in that administration has written a revealing book : Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines. Who knows, perhaps her stories