As Nigeria’s anti-corruption war gathers momentum, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday said it wanted to interrogate showy newspaper publisher NdukaObaigbena and a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke.
Also, on the commission’s wanted list are two ex- senior military officers, General Sarki Yarki-Bello and Colonel Bello Fadile, who previously worked in the office of embattled National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki. They are also believed to be in hiding in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the US.
In addition to the two military officers, Waripamowei Dudafa, a former Special Assistant on Domestic and Social Events to former President Goodluck Jonathan is also wanted for questioning.
Mr. Adoke is wanted for questioning in connection with the infamous $1.1 billion Malabu Oil scandal, particularly with regard to his role in the transfer of a huge sum of cash, provided by oil giants Royal Dutch Shell and Eni, to the former Petroleum Minister and convicted felon, Dan Etete.
Sources have told SaharaReporters that Mr. Adoke is currently hiding in Dubai. Only yesterday in the UAE, Nigeria signed a number of bilateral agreements on repatriation of stolen funds and the extradition of culpable officials.
For his part, Mr. Obaigbena is wanted for taking N670 million from the former National Security Advisor (NSA) Sambo Dasuki.
Those funds are believed to have come from the $2.1 billion intended for arming Nigeria’s military against Boko Haram but were instead funneled into the accounts of several high-profile politicians, media moguls, and military officers during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a recent letter written to the EFCC, in which he said he was writing from the United States, Mr. Obaigbena claimed the money was partly compensation for Boko Haram attacks upon his newspaper offices. The media mogul is also currently facing the embarrassing closure of his Arise TV due to massive debts and non-payment of staff wages.
In the letter, he also admitted to accepting N120 million on behalf of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), but several of the 12 newspapers he listed as recipients of this payout denied ever receiving any money.
The current whereabouts of Mr. Obaigbena are unknown. He had told the EFCC in his newspaper he was on his way back to Nigeria and would show up if needed, but he never did.
In a recent conversation with SaharaReporters spoke to him he also stated he was in New York, and that he planned to travel back to Nigeria via Europe.
A source claimed the flamboyant publisher is currently in Nigeria. The EFCC has expressed the hope he will voluntary make himself available in their office, but also declared that they won't hesitate to extradite him should he refuse to honor their invitation.
The agreements signed by Nigeria and the UAE on Tuesday include:
• Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters;
• Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement;
• Agreement on Trade Promotion and Protection; and
• Judicial Agreements on Extradition and Transfer of Sentenced Persons.
Among others, these agreements will facilitate the UAE government’s return of Nigeria’s looted funds that are being hidden in the country or invested in its banks and real estate.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed the Judicial Agreement on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters with the UAE. These agreements are intended to assist with the extradition of individuals accused of committing financial crimes in Nigeria, as well as the transfer of funds siphoned to offshore accounts.
As reported by SaharaReporters earlier today, news of the cooperation agreements has led to panic among corrupt current and former Nigerian government officials, including civil servants, who turned to UAE in recent years to hide their illicit wealth.
Analysts describe the agreement as a critical trump card by President Muhammadu Buhari, who took advantage of his participation in the World Energy Forum in Dubai to pull the trigger on the deal.