Posted by News Express | 2 January 2017 | 1,617 times
Fresh facts have emerged on the over 40 vehicles allegedly recovered from Mr. Godknows Igali, a former permanent secretary, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with new evidence strongly indicating that the automobiles were legitimately acquired through a bank loan for use in the 2015 elections.
Investigations revealed that the vehicles in question were purchased with a loan from a new generation bank, as part of the transportation plans for the Jonathan/Sambo campaign during the last general elections.
It was further gathered that some of the vehicles that came into the campaign pool as donations or purchased with party funds had already been distributed or returned to the owners while the vehicles in question were kept in Abuja in the custody of the former Mr. Igali, who facilitated the loan in readiness to be sold with a view to committing the proceeds to the repayment of the loan.
Contrary to claims that the vehicles were purchased with diverted public funds, it was reliably gathered that a loan of N1.8 billion was obtained on November 20, 2014 for the purchase of ‘luxury vehicles for VIP use’ with an extended repayment plan beginning from December 2016.
Documents cited at the headquarters of the bank in Lagos further revealed that the bank released the loan in five tranches in line with the time invoices were produced by the suppliers.
A senior manager of the bank who confirmed the loan stated that the bank had in statements made to EFCC September 2016, supplied all the evidences concerning the transactions to the anti-graft agency.
The official, who pleaded anonymity because he was not officially permitted to speak on the issue, emphasised that the loan processes followed all legitimate procedures, stressing that no default has been recorded yet, since the repayment was billed to start December 2016, “had EFCC not taken interest in the transactions.”
Commenting on the issue, a high-ranking member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), High Chief Abel Odoko, wondered why EFCC would chose to opt for a “sensational media trial on a matter that was concluded many months ago.”
The party, chieftain who claimed to be very conversant with the case, debunked the claim that “the sum of N1.5 billion with which the vehicles were acquired was allegedly sourced from the diverted N27 billion insurance premium of deceased workers of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).”
The PDP chieftain said: “First, it was that the former permanent secretary took 40 government SUVs for himself. After 24 hours its 45 or 47 and he bought them for Jonathan/Sambo Campaign. First, the vehicles were parked in his house; now they are parked in a yard. If investigators are credible, why so much ‘confidential sources’ leaking out so much? Why the sudden massive media hype if it’s not sponsored witch hunting? Why always drag in the name of GEJ into everything negative?”
Odoko wondered why despite the disclosure by the bank, from which the loan was taken, the government was silent on the transactions.
He wondered: “Why are government officials silent on the fact that a loan was obtained and rather quoting other sources? Is the intention to scandalise specific people for whatever reasons and achieve cheap political objectives? Is it professional practice in investigations of this type to be releasing findings in bits without conclusions? Why has the minister of information suddenly become spokesman for EFCC?”
According to him, EFCC came into the matter only after it discovered that Baseworth Insurance Brokers, a company the anti-graft agency had been investigating had also contributed N300 million to the said loan which was co-ordinated by the lender-bank. “It was only then that the agency insisted on recovering the money by taking possession of the vehicles to which no one objected,” he said.
The PDP chieftain said this was the settlement reached with the anti-graft agency about four months ago, “only for contrived stories scandalising our party and former President Goodluck Jonathan and people close to him to resurface in the media days before the new year.”
He alleged that the claim of a pending trial of ex-Perm Sec Igali was borne out of mischief, adding: “It does not arise because it has been clearly established that the vehicles were purchased with a bank loan. If EFCC is investigating any other matter, our party is not against it as long as due process and fairness is followed. The PDP as a party is not against President Buhari’s fight against corruption war. The PDP government believes in curtailing the scourge of corruption in the country that is why the government established the ICPC and the EFCC. We are fully in support of the anti-corruption war but it must be done in line with the principle of equity and without victimisation.”
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