SaharaReporters has learned that Hassan Tukur, who served as principal secretary to former President Goodluck Jonathan, has been making shocking disclosures to agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) since he was arrested and detained last week.
Two senior EFCC sources told a correspondent of SaharaReporters that Mr. Tukur was arrested over allegations that he diverted the sum of $40 million ostensibly meant for the negotiated release of 219 Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram militants in April 2014.
One of our sources disclosed that Mr. Tukur has told investigators that he diverted the funds with the approval and at the instance of the ex-president.
Another source said Mr. Tukur realized he was in deep trouble last Friday after he met the conditions for “administrative bail." "We told him that orders had come from above to get to the root of the matter, and that's when he began to make useful statements," said the source.
Mr. Tukur reportedly received $40 million from the office of the National Security Adviser after he boasted that he was in a position to negotiate the release of the abducted Chibok girls using some contacts in Chad, including Chadian President Idriss Deby.
However, the EFCC sources said the ostensible negotiation were botched from the very beginning by Mr. Tukur's deceptive moves. For example, President Déby reportedly received only $5 million from Mr. Tukur, who then helped himself to $35 million.
One EFCC source said the former presidential aide has claimed that he shared the bulk of the "negotiation" funds with his boss, Mr. Jonathan.
Mr. Tukur's alleged disclosures are bound to be unsettling for the former president’s camp, one source said. According to him, Mr. Tukur has volunteered information regarding his role in other financial scandals unrelated to his arrest.
A source at the Presidency told SaharaReporters that President Muhammadu Buhari was shocked to learn from the Chadian president about the insincerity of the former administration's actions regarding the abducted schoolgirls.
According to the source, during the recently concluded Regional Security Summit in Abuja, Mr. Buhari had pulled aside his Chadian counterpart to find out why Mr. Deby collected $40m from Nigeria to secure the release of Chibok girls and did nothing in return.
The Chadian president reportedly revealed that he was only told that the Jonathan administration had voted only $10 million for the negotiations. He added that Mr. Jonathan and his aides had abandoned the negotiation midway, forcing Chad to abandon its efforts even though Chadian troops were close to cornering Boko Haram militants and freeing the girls.
Mr. Deby reportedly told President Buhari that Mr. Tukur and other Nigerian officials to reach Mr. Jonathan to discuss the rescue plan.
The source stated that on one occasion when the Chadian leader reached the former Nigerian president, Mr. Jonathan feigned ignorance about the negotiations. At the time, the funds had apparently been diverted.
Chadian troops finally withdrew from Nigerian territory after a breakdown of talks even though they had made great progress in pursuit of Boko Haram insurgents, helping Nigeria's vastly depleted army to free up territories captured by the Islamist terrorists.
Mr. Tukur made a total of five trips to N’Djamena, the capital of Chad. Our Presidency source said Mr. Tukur used presidential jets to ferry cash during the failed negotiations to release the Chibok girls.
The detention of Mr. Tukur is considered a major blow to ex-President Jonathan. During Mr. Jonathan’s five-year reign as President, Mr. Tukur was popularly referred to as Prime Minister. The Adamawa-born civil servant served as a go-between for Jonathan, his ministers and aides.
Ironically, Mr. Tukur was Mr. Buhari’s personal assistant in 1984 when the Nigerian president was a military head of state.