Monday, 22 January 2018

Diezani in trouble again as EFCC uncover $1.3b withdrawal from NNPC accounts





Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives have just uncovered the withdrawal of $1.3billion from the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), ostensibly to fight kidnapping and other security threats in the Niger Delta.
The withdrawal was neither authorised by the National Assembly nor the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is also believed to be unaware of the deductions from the NNPC accounts.
The ex-Minister only relied on a memo from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan without recourse to the board of the NNPC.
A former Group Executive Director, Finance and Accounts of NNPC, Mr. Bernard Otti, has been quizzed by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives.
Otti is said to have also made available to the EFCC some documents, including approvals to withdraw the $1.3billion by Mrs Alison-Madueke.
In two other instances, Jonathan wrote on two other requests mandating the former minister to take part of the cash from either NNPC Security Vote Account or from the “Gas Fund”.
According to sources, EFCC operatives were almost closing up the probe of the ex-Minister when the withdrawal of the $1.3billion was uncovered.
About $1.4billion was requested by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) via three memos, for “Intervention for Urgent National Security Projects.”
About $1.3billion was released from NNPC accounts but it was unclear what became of the $100million balance as at press time.
ONSA had requested for $1.4billion between March 27, 2014 and May 5, 2014 when approval was given and cash backed.
About three memos were sent to ex-President Jonathan on March 27, 2014, 31st March 2014 and May 5, 2014.
In the first memo, of March 27th, 2014, the former National Security Adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki, requested for $1billion to fight kidnapping, crude oil theft and petroleum pipeline vandalism.
The memo to Jonathan, which was titled “Request for intervention for urgent National Security Projects”, said:
“Your Excellency, apart from the insurgency in the Northeast, the country is also contending with some other security challenges, such as crude oil theft, sea piracy, kidnapping as well as petroleum pipeline vandalism.
“These challenges have greatly affected revenue profile of the nation and our international image.
“Our gas pipeline network has also come under serious threat as the scourge of vandalism has spread to the gas sector.
Apart from the volatility of gas and its potential for collateral damage, especially environmental degradation, shortage of gas will constitute a serious setback to Government’s power generation efforts.
“Additionally, Mr. President had promised during the 30th meeting of NEPAD Heads of State and Governments Orientation Committee that the Trans-Saharan Pipeline Project from Nigeria to Algeria will be completed in 2015. The security of the Nigerian end of this pipeline network is critical to the success and smooth running of this gas project.
“Further to Mr. President’s support so far in our fight against terrorism, there is urgent need to raise our intelligence gathering efforts to more strategic levels.
“It is therefore pertinent that a holistic approach is applied to solving these challenges highlighted above. To ameliorate the above mentioned challenges, some reputable companies have been identified to provide the following:
(a) An integrated maritime domain awareness platform that can be integrated into enforcement platform of the Navy and other agencies to help check crude oil theft, sea piracy and kidnapping as well as Offshore pipeline vandalism.
(b) An Onshore petroleum and gas pipeline surveillance and monitoring solution.
(c) Unmanned aerial platforms for strategic intelligence gathering.
(d) Mobile radars for aerial coverage by the Nigerian Air Force
(5) In view of the foregoing, Mr. President is kindly requested to approve the provision of $1billion intervention funds to enable the urgent provision of the above-mentioned services. Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest esteem.

In his response, the ex-President directed as follows: “Please, release US$200m only from NNPC Security Vote.”
A highly-placed source in EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said:
“Investigation so far confirmed the withdrawal of the $1.3billion from some accounts of the NNPC abroad. But there are sufficient clues of suspected money laundering by the ex-Ministers of Petroleum Resources and some government agencies who used ONSA as a platform.
“There is no evidence of projects executed with the cash. Instead, some of the cash were wired into a few banks by these individuals.
“We have also grilled a former Group Executive Director, Finance and Accounts of NNPC, Mr. Bernard Otti who has cooperated with our investigators by making necessary documents available. We will keep you posted on this case.”






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