The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to invite former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, a former National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Chief Olu Falae, and others alleged to have illegally received government funds through the last presidential campaign for questioning next week, Saturday PUNCH investigation has revealed.
It was learnt that the commission on Thursday revisited investigations into funding of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015 campaign.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that with the arrest of the former Finance Director of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Nenadi Usman, the anti-graft commission had reopened its investigations into the funding of Jonathan’s campaign.
It was also learnt that the EFCC had last month begun investigations into the funding of Jonathan’s campaign, but suspended the probe because the director of finance of the organisation was out of the country.
Investigations showed that the commission had revisited the probe and that those who were alleged to have illegally collected funds through the campaign would be invited next week.
The former minister was arrested on Thursday over N2.5bn she allegedly received from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Usman was alleged to have transferred the funds to several persons through the bank account of a company, Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited.
Fani-Kayode, who was the Spokesperson for the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation during the last election, was alleged to have received N840m.
Falae allegedly received N100m through a company, Marreco Limited, where he is chairman.
It was learnt that the EFCC would invite Fani-Kayode; Falae and ex-political adviser to Jonathan, Prof. Rufai Alkali, who was the Coordinator of the Goodluck Support Group, which allegedly collected N320m.
A source in the EFCC said, “Nenadi Usman holds the key to the investigation. With her arrest, the EFCC has reopened the investigation which was suspended when she was out of the country.”
It was learnt that although the commission had concluded plans to invite those involved as from next week, the timing of the invitation might change depending on Nenadi Usman’s statement.
The former finance director is still in the EFCC custody.
Criticising the Jonathan administration, the APC said that the EFCC’s probes were not one-sided.
The National Vice Chairman of the APC (South South), Halliard Eta, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH,said that the administration financed Jonathan’s campaign with government funds.
He recalled that when former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in power, most of those who were arrested for corruption were members of the Peoples Democratic Party.
He stated, “In the last 16 years, the only time that there was a little bit seriousness about the fight against corruption was when we had the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
“At that time, Obasanjo was pursuing people who were corrupt and ninety per cent of the people were found in the PDP. Our government is just following in the footsteps of the Obasanjo regime. When they were pursuing corrupt people, they were pursuing themselves because they are more corrupt.
“When we were contesting the 2015 election, we were in the opposition. We did not have the NSA (National Security Adviser). We did not have the Central Bank. It is now that we have those. We are not talking of people donating to campaigns. We are talking of slush funds from government coffers.”
But, Fani-Kayode, in an article on Friday, alleged that former governors Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State and his Rivers State counterpart, Rotimi Amaechi, funded President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign.
Fani-Kayode, who is a former Minister of Aviation, said this in an article titled, ‘The Money Transfers and the Truth about the Presidential Campaign Funds’, which he wrote in reaction to allegations levelled against him by the EFCC.
Fani-Kayode had confessed to receiving N840m as the director of publicity during the electioneering last year, but noted that he did not know that the funds emanated from the account of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He, however, described the investigations as a witch-hunt and urged the EFCC to beam its searchlight on Fashola and Amaechi who have since been appointed ministers in Buhari’s government.
Fani-Kayode said, “Instead of using the EFCC to try to rubbish me and my colleagues and smear our good names, those that are in power today should tell us where they got their campaign funds from and how much of it came from the governments of Lagos and Rivers states.
“The two people that headed those two state governments then are now both federal ministers today. One of them, who was the Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, was specifically indicted by a judicial commission of inquiry for using millions of dollars of state government funds to run the Buhari campaign, yet nothing happened and his reward was to be appointed as a minister.”
Fani-Kayode alleged that even in the March 19, 2015 rerun election in Rivers State, Amaechi transported N5bn to the state but the EFCC had done nothing about it.
He added, “Again what about the N5bn cash that was flown down to Port Harcourt in Rivers State from Abuja in chartered plane a couple of days before the rerun election that took place on March 19, 2016? Where did they get that amount of cash from and what was its purpose and source?
“What has the EFCC said or leaked about that? It appears that there is one law for those that are in power today and another for those that are not. Why persecute the innocent and leave the guilty? Was it a crime to fight and lose an election?”
The former minister said Buhari spent 10 times more than Jonathan during the last election. He said Buhari as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, hired the same campaign managers that headed United States President’s campaign.
Fani-Kayode alleged that the campaign managers were paid $10m.
He also claimed that the Jonathan campaign team was underfunded as it was not even given vehicles with which to move around during the electioneering.
He added, “I might add that we spent far less money than the APC and the Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation because they had access to massive amounts of state government funds and they used those funds effectively. For every million naira we spent, they spent 10.
“They even contracted the services of a famous American media consultant (the same one that President Obama used in 2008) and paid him $10m for his counsel and advice. They had fleets of cars and buses whilst my directorate was not even given one vehicle to get our people around.
“The official jeep that was meant to have been given to us for our operations during the campaign was highjacked and it never arrived.
“We were forced to use our own personal vehicles and we were glad to do so. Yet the other side had everything that money could buy. They even chartered numerous private jets throughout the campaign to get around the country. Where did they get all their funding from? Why is the EFCC not leaking stories or talking about that?”
Faulting Fani-Kayode, the APC National Vice-Chairman said the ex-spokesman should provide proof, if he alleged that the two APC governors financed Buhari’s campaigns.
“It is not just by making allegations. They should bring proof. In our own case, we have brought proof, people are returning money. Is that not so? These are some of the things we must interrogate. In fact, there is no need for us to respond to them (PDP campaign). The fact speaks for itself.”
Fani-Kayode is afraid of his shadow –Lagos APC
On his part, the APC Publicity Secretary in Lagos State, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, described Fani-Kayode’s allegation as a ‘bedtime story for kids’.
Igbokwe urged the former minister to quickly return the N840m he admitted to receiving instead of giving excuses.
Igbokwe wondered how an opposition state could have access to more funds than a party that had been in control of Federal Government resources for 16 years.
He said, “Fani-Kayode is afraid of his shadow. Fani-Kayode’s PDP ruled Nigeria for 16 years and also looted Nigeria for 16 years with nothing to show for it except decayed infrastructure and empty treasury.
“In his confused state of mind, Fani-Kayode thinks APC spent huge sums of money including Lagos and Rivers states’ money to defeat Jonathan and PDP. This is a bedtime story for kids. What the APC did was to apply common sense where PDP was spending billions.
“Fani-Kayode is one of the PDP shameless leaders that destroyed the PDP. Fani-Kayode left the PDP and for almost a year, he rained abuses on President Jonathan and the PDP. He left no stone unturned in exposing Jonathan as clueless and rudderless, and in fact he brought to the public knowledge the inner workings of PDP and its many woes. Fani-Kayode later returned to the party he had labelled as a monumental and colossal failure to serve as the spokesman for the campaign organisation. What a confused man.”
In his reaction, Chief Falae said he had never been invited by the EFCC or any anti-graft commission, adding that his company too had never been touched by the anti-graft commission.
He said, “I have said it in several interviews that both myself and my party have nothing whatsoever to do with Dansuki or Jonathan campaign Director or anybody that it was Tony Anenih as Chairman Board of Trustee of the PDP who approached SDP, my party, through me that we should support their candidate. I also said that we gave them some conditions which he accepted.”
If eventually invited, the former Minister for Finance said he would honor the invitation as he said he had no skeleton in his cupboard.
“I will honour the invitation if I am invited, but I have not been invited by anybody because they know I have nothing to explain, I have explained everything. I know I didn’t do anything that is illegal, they just want to use that to embarrass me.”