Even as Mr Goodluck Jonathan deny he taken refuge in Cote d’Ivoire to flee prosecution for corruption, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) say they have traced the source of the $40million paid to Roberts Azibaola, who is the former President’s cousin, to a bank in London.
The cash was wired through Citibank N. A. Canada Square Canary in Wharf London E 145 LB into the account of One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited of Azibaola, the anti-graft agency has revealed.
Media reports say about $6million of the money was paid to a bureau de change in Abuja.
According to The Nation newspaper, Azibaola, who is yet to refund the stolen money, has been relocated from Lagos to Abuja in preparation for his trial.
Charges have been filed against the ex-President’s cousin at a Federal High Court in Abuja. No date has been fixed for his arraignment.
According to a document obtained by our correspondent, the $40million came from the account of the Special Services Office of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
“The Special Services Office has a joint account with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and some security agencies, which was managed by ONSA.
“The $40million was wired into the account of Azibaola’s company through Citibank N. A. Canada Square Canary in Wharf London E 145 LB.
“The money was transferred to One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited with Robert Azibaola and Stella Azibaola as directors. All disbursements went to individuals and companies including two foreign firms and the wife of the ex-President’s cousin. About $5.5million has been allegedly transferred to Mrs. Azibaola.
“The $40mmillion was in respect of a contract for the supply of Tactical Communication Kits for Special Forces. No records of contract executed.
“We wrote to the Office of the SGF and the Permanent Secretary, Special Services Office (PSSO) said: “The SGF office is not in possession of any document or evidence of contract.
“Even the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) said it had no records of the contract but it only made available payment advice to transfer the funds to the Azibaola’s account.
A source close to the investigation said: “We have to release the outcome of investigations to show that the EFCC is not engaging in any witch-hunt against the cousin of the ex-President.
“Although the contract was for the supply of Tactical Communication kits, when we interrogated the cousin of the ex-President, he said ‘they had a discussion with the ex-NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), to secure pipelines in the Niger Delta but there is no evidence to show for it.
“If there was any contract, how come $6million was remitted into the account of a bureau de change? None of the suspects was able to explain the reason for this.
Responding to a question, the source added: “Robert Azibaola has not refunded the $40million or a part of it. He has been relocated from Lagos to Abuja in readiness for his arraignment in court. He has behaved well in detention.
The EFCC arrested Azibaola’s on March 23 – in line with the ongoing probe of 300 companies involved in phantom contracts by ONSA.
But counsel to the suspect, Gordy Uche (SAN) in a statement in Abuja accused the Commission of embarking on a vendetta mission against former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said the Federal Government was still owing his client $4million, being balance of the contract sum for “successfully securing oil pipelines which saw Nigeria reap billions of US dollars from increased oil production”.
He asked the commission to “either charge my clients to court or release them on bail”.
Uche said: “My client (Roberts) is being persecuted and punished because of his DNA, as a relative of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
“My client is innocent until proven guilty, according to the laws of Nigeria. So, his continuous detention is a breach of his fundamental human rights as a free citizen of Nigeria. The appropriate thing for the EFCC to do in this circumstance is to release him now or charge him to court