President Muhammadu Buhari has received a list of 25 top corruption cases linked with stolen or mismanaged funds worth N900 billion which his government was investigating but had been left dormant.
In a letter delivered to the President, a group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, warned that the country was sliding into the red light district of corruption and vices.
The group in a release, dated February 24, alerted that corrupt people were taking over critical institutions and undermining the country’s anti-corruption profile.
In the letter titled, “Re-Awakening the Anti-Corruption Drive” and signed by HEDA Chairman, Mr Suraju Olanrewaju, the group said the volume of money linked to ignored corruption cases since 2015 when President Buhari assumed office was not less than N900 billion.
The anti-corruption group regretted that many cases of corruption involving prominent people had been scuttled by the government's self-appointed gatekeepers.
HEDA said the top corruption cases that appeared to have been swept under the carpet suggested that some N900 billion might have gone into the coffers of corrupt officials.
“This only affects top corruption cases, yet we have many other smaller cases that have met institutional roadblocks,” HEDA said in the letter addressed to the President.
It continued, “The cases include but not limited to the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo during the 2015 general elections arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly receiving $115 million in cash from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke; the Executive Director of First Bank Plc, Dauda Lawal, tried by the EFCC for allegedly handling the sum of $25m of $153m rolled out by Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources in Nigeria; former Comptroller General of Customs, Mr. Abdullahi Dikko, was alleged to have stolen over N40 billion, and was asked to return N1.5 billion to the Federal Government; former Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, linked to a N2 billion graft.
“Others were the dubious payment of $16.9 million fees to two friends as new lawyers for the recovery of the loot traced to a former Nigerian Head of State, Sani Abacha, after a Swiss lawyer was hired and fully paid by the previous government, Enrico Monfrini.”
Apart from cases involving cash, HEDA documented cases of influence peddling involving top government officials that used their seats to upturn justice in favour of politically exposed individuals.
HEDA listed official interference in the investigation of a multi-billion naira fraud in Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NISRAL) through a letter ordering the EFCC and the ICPC, the Department of State Services, and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to halt the investigation of the financial misappropriation in NIRSAL.
“There was also the attempt to reinstate Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) while the Attorney General, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) discontinued a N25 billion naira criminal charge against Senator Danjuma Goje without any justification,” the group noted.
HEDA also mentioned the allegation that the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Yusuf Buratai, bought properties in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, using suspended corrupt means as the procurement officer of the Nigerian Army.
“We believe that the manner in which the above cases were handled, indirectly or directly, portray the Nigerian government and her mandate to eradicate corruption in a bad light in the global space,” HEDA wrote in the letter.