The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced 29 choice property in the United Arab Emirate (UAE) to a former governor, Newsmen has gathered. Highly placed sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said each of the assets located in highbrow areas of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE, cost about $2 million.
It was further learnt that in order to shroud the ownership of the acquisitions in secrecy, the ex-governor used some offshore companies as fronts, to ward off suspicion. Consequently, the Nigerian government has written the UAE, seeking cooperation, to attach and freeze the houses, which it believes, were bought from proceeds of crime.
Investigation also revealed that the mind-boggling discovery was made by the Foreign Desk of the Commission, which is said to comprise internal operatives, personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS), International Police Organisation (INTERPOL), as well as the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
The existing treaty between Nigeria and UAE, which was recently signed between the heads of both countries, will facilitate the seizure process. Already, the UAE government is said to have written to the offshore companies to disclose the identity and true owner of the affected luxury apartments.
It was, however, learnt that the offshore companies were yet to respond to the request made by the UAE government. The affected former state chief executive is said to be in the know of the ongoing investigation by the anti-graft agency, which has renewed its commitment to the fight against corruption in the system. “I can confirm to you that 29 luxury properties have been traced to one of the former governors in the country.
“As I speak to you now, efforts are on by the Federal Government of Nigeria to seek cooperation of the UAE government to seize the assets upon authentication of ownership. “From what I heard, each of the luxury villas costs between $1 million and $2 million and you know how much 29 of them will translate to,” he said. According to the source, “the Foreign Desk, which has operatives and personnel from the EFCC, DSS, INTERPOL and NIA, made the discovery, which is very laudable.
“Both the UAE government and EFCC are in custody of bank details where occupants of the luxury apartments pay their rents and the person that operate the account. “Letters have been sent to the offshore companies to come forward and defend the ownership of the assets. We already know the man behind the assets.” The source confirmed that there are other properties that have been traced to some serving and former public office holders in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the EFCC has quizzed the Director- General of a sensitive federal organisation, as well as a former permanent secretary in the Presidency. A highly placed source told Newsmen that the DG and the retired permanent secretary were recently grilled for several hours by the EFCC over their alleged involvement in the sharing of N1.5 billion campaign funds.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, said that the N1.5 billion was part of the N4 billion said to have been released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the agency and transferred for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaigns in 2015.
The retired permanent secretary came up with the N4 billion memo approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan. The money was transferred to the agency’s special account where N2.5 billion was paid to the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PCO).
The DG, ex-permanent secretary and officials of the agency are making statements on how the N1.5 billion was spent. A former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Esther Nenadi Usman, has since been held by the anti-graft agency, in connection with the N4 billion.
Usman was the Director of Finance of the PDP campaign organisation. Also quizzed are some directors and officials of the agency, who were said to have appeared twice at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja. “You know that N1.5 billion out of the N4 billion fund being talked about was shared among a director general of a federal agency, whose names I won’t mention and a former permanent secretary.
“It may also interest you to know that the N4 billion was paid into an account; not the national security adviser’s account as is widely stated. “The affected persons have had a date with EFCC operatives. Some directors have been interrogated twice,” the source said.
Source: New Telegraph Newspaper