Late on Monday, it emerged in Nigeria’s news space that the country’s Accountant General,(AGF), Ahmed Idris, is in EFCC net on the allegation of fraud to the tune of N80 billion. TheNewsGuru.com reports that operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, arrested Idris in connection with alleged diversion of funds and money laundering.
EFCC’s intelligence claims that the AGF raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates, and through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.
The accused was arrested after failing to honour invitations by the EFCC to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts. Observers are quick to say that this is not a vice only Idris exhibits. They say it is becoming the pattern whereby many high profile officials of the Buhari government boldly attempt to evade justice through blatant refusal to honour requests for inquiry by authorities constitutionally empowered to do so.
Before the EFCC stepped in, the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on investigation of recovered loots and assets of government had heard how the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, among other infractions, transferred N20 billion to the Ministry of Defence without due process.
According to findings by the committee chaired by Adesogun Adejoru, Idris also transferred another N20 billion to the Capital Development Fund without recourse to due process.
Findings further show, in the documents tendered by the AGF before the lawmakers, that another N19.6 billion was illegally transferred from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recovery account to African Development Bank (AfDB). This brings the total of unauthorized transfers to N59 billion.
During the House of Representatives investigations, the accountant-General admitted carrying out the withdrawals without recourse to the relevant financial laws guarding the operations of his office.
Idris had appeared alongside the Minister for Finance, Zainab Ahmed, who briefed the lawmakers on the need to rebuild a framework to address the gaps that exist in financial transactions.
In his defence, the respondent explained that there was a budgetary approval for defence but funds were not readily available hence the resort to the EFCC account.
TheNewsGuru.com notes Idris arrest is consequent upon the House of Representatives investigations of the office of the Accountant General over the status of all recovered loots, including movable and immovable assets between 2002 and 2020.
The National Assembly’s committee was said to have discovered numerous discrepancies in the records of the Office of Accountant General and the Central Bank of Nigeria. In one of the cases, one Sabo Mohammed, who represented the Accountant General, was unable to defend the discrepancies discovered by the committee during the hearing.
For example, “According to a document submitted by Mr Mohammed, N15 billion was transferred to the asset recovery account on February 14 but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun, said the bank statement obtained from the CBN did not contain the said amount, TheNewsGuru.com reports.
Adeogun also accused the OAGF of violating section 80(3) of the 1999 Constitution by approving the disbursement of funds from the recovery accounts without proper appropriation of the National Assembly. The record of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was also queried by the panel.
In another development, in March this year, an example of the rot in the finances of the office of the Accountant General of the Federation was unearthed by a panel raised to probe N104 million embezzlement in Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami’s Justice Ministry. The panel was said to have been put under serious pressure, with allegation that they were even offered a N5m bribe. It detailed how the three-man panel set up by the office to look into questionable activities of some staff members of the Finance and Account department of the Federal Ministry of Justice, especially diversion of public funds and financial infractions, were hamstrung by the officials.
The panel, TheNewsGuru.com recalls was headed by one Mr Haruna and it indicted the Director of Finance and Accounts in the Ministry, Joshua Luka Kadmi, a Grade Level 17 officer and one Abuh Danjuma.
The duo, it was further alleged, had within two months (November to December 2021), embezzled N104 million using the private bank accounts of Danjuma (UBA Account No: 2064800888 and Access Bank No: 0050341092). Afterwards, the junior officer, Danjuma allegedly withdrew the money from his bank account and handed it over to Kadmi in a bag.
The panel report noted that “Their actions are in breach of the General Regulation Act…. they expended government resources without due process and violated stipulated rules, particularly with reference to sections 12 & 19 of the corrupt practices and other related offences act, 2000 and punishable under relevance section of the same act.”
A petition prepared and sent to the Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had called for a probe into over N104 million, which is missing from the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
The petition, written by the Integrity and Transparency Watch (ITW), a Nigerian non-profit organisation and society watchdog, had urged the ICPC to investigate and prosecute Kadmi and one Danjuma, who also works in the AGF’s office.
The petition, dated February 15, 2022, was addressed to the ICPC Chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye by Shaibu Sodangi, the National Coordinator and Head of ITW’s Investigation Department.
The ITW had noted that the actions of the officers are in breach of the General Regulation Act, stressing that they expended government resources without due process and violated stipulated rules, particularly with reference to sections 12&19 of the corrupt practices and other related offences act, 2000 and punishable under relevance section of the same act.
The group further had stated that both Kadmi and Abuh should be made to step aside to allow for a thorough investigation into the issue.