A former boss of the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) may have some questions to answer from the Presidential Investigative Panel on the $289 million allegedly withdrawn from the company’s accounts ostensibly for national security.
NAPIMS is a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The investigative panel, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, is currently probing the $43.4million haul made recently from the Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, and the N200m curious contract awarded by the Presidential Initiative on the North-East.
The erstwhile NAPIMS boss, said to be a kinsman of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, was in charge of the company when the huge withdrawal was made during the last political dispensation.
The Ikoyi cash is believed to be part of the leftover of the NAPIMS funds.
But he won’t be the only to face the panel.
The committee said yesterday that it will invite “all relevant officials and private individuals who may be connected to both cases.”
For now, it is unlikely that Dr. Jonathan will be summoned by the committee, contrary to widespread speculations.
Media reports had suggested that Jonathan gave the go ahead for the release of the $289 million to the NIA and other security agencies from the account of NAPIMS.
It was also gathered yesterday that there will be no soft handling of anyone implicated in the $43.4million haul and the N200m contract award.
Two top government officials – Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke – were sent home last Wednesday over their suspected involvement in the matters.
President Muhammadu Buhari is understood to have told the investigative panel not to spare the rod or give soft landing to anyone found wanting.
Buhari demanded a thorough job no matter whose ox is gored, sources told The Nation.
The panel announced yesterday that its assignment will take place behind closed doors to avoid speculations and distractions.
Sources told The Nation that Buhari’s instruction to the Osinbajo Committee is straight forward.
“The President directed that there should be no cover up for anybody no matter how highly placed. He said there will be no soft landing for the suspended officials or any official or anyone closer to him who is involved,” a highly placed source said.
“And Buhari demonstrated this on Wednesday when the affected officials were suspended. Before the announcement was made, SGF Babachir Lawal earlier wanted to see him but he sent a message to him to go and see the Vice President.
“As a matter of fact, he had expected that one of the two suspended officials would have resigned given overwhelming public opprobrium on the allegations against him but he refused. “The President then decided that he cannot be bearing the burden of anyone.
“So, this committee is not the Kangaroo type or a soft landing panel to save anybody.”
The committee yesterday shed light on its mode of operation.
It said its sessions will be closed to the public to avoid speculations and distractions.
The committee made the clarifications through a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the President (Office of the Vice President), Mr. Laolu Akande.
It said: “The Presidential Committee ordered earlier this week by President Muhammadu Buhari to probe certain allegations against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir Lawal, and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Mr. Ayo Oke has commenced its work in earnest.
“President Buhari on Wednesday established the three-man panel headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with Attorney-General & Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami and National Security Adviser, Rtd Major General Babagana Monguno as members, to investigate allegations of legal and due process violations made against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF and the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) in a residential apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos.
“In the discharge of its work, the panel is expected to invite all relevant officials and private individuals who may be connected to both cases.
“It will also obtain and scrutinize documents that may throw some light on the issues raised in both cases. All its proceedings will however be in closed sessions to avoid speculations, allow for full disclosure and enhance the pace of proceedings.
“The panel which is expected to submit its report to the President at the expiration of the 14-day deadline, will conduct its work with utmost diligence and without fear or favour.”
Investigation confirmed last night that ex-President Jonathan might not be summoned by the Osinbajo Panel.
On the alleged huge withdrawal of funds from the account of NAPIMS termed Special Intervention Funds for the NIA,the source said: “”Since Jonathan’s kinsman was in charge of NAPIMS, it was convenient for the former administration to withdraw some funds from the account of the agency.
“Apart from NIA, some security agencies and offices benefitted from the Special Intervention Funds.
“The Presidential Investigative Committee may interact with a former Group General Manager and some select officials of NAPIMS who disbursed the Special Intervention Funds.”
A separate source said:”There are so many documents, EFCC investigative report, Senate Committee report and public officers involved in some of the projects or activities and funds being probed.
“The committee is unlikely to summon ex-President Jonathan. He is actually not on our radar. Let each public official carry his or her own cross.”
The three-man committee is expected to:
- enquire into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds,
- how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA,
- and to establish whether or not there has been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.”