N5.4b slush funds: EFCC begins interrogation of Mark, probes ex-Minister

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After allowing him a two-week of recuperation, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC ) yesterday grilled a former President of the Senate, Chief David Mark in connection with alleged N5.4billion slush funds.
Also, the commission is investigating Mark in respect of a curious payment to him by the Office of the National Security Adviser( ONSA).
A former Minister of State for Niger Delta, Mr. Sam Ode is already being probed over N2billion campaign funds meant for Benue State.
According to findings by our correspondent, Mark reported to the EFCC at about 1.45pm
He had earlier presented a medical certificate to the anti-graft agency that he was not fit enough to “be able to write a statement.”
Based on his fidgety nature, the EFCC allowed him enough grace to attend to his health.
Mark, who was at the EFCC office with one of his sons, was ushered into the investigation room at about 1.48pm.
The allegations against Mark include alleged N200m -N550m arms procurement cash from ONSA; N2.9billion curious payment into the account of the National Assembly’s account and shared to Senators during Mark’s tenure; his role in about N2billion campaign funds meant for Benue State; and illegal purchase of a N748million official residence of the Senate President.
A top source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “We have resumed full probe of Mark, who came to respond to issues raised for him by a panel of detectives.
“Being in company of his son, he was calm during interrogation which involved the presentation of some of our findings to him.
“Altogether, he has more than three cases before the EFCC but we are gradually isolating every issue in which he was implicated.
“By the time we release the facts to the public, Nigerians will realize that the ongoing probe of the former Senate President has nothing to do with politics. We have been on some aspects of the investigation since 2015.
“In one of the findings, about N200million was collected in cash for Mark from ONSA through a proxy.”
Meanwhile, a former Minister of State for Niger Delta, Sam Ode has been implicated in the disbursement of N2billion campaign funds meant for Benue State alongside Mark
The cash was suspected to be part of the allocation wired from the Office of National Security Adviser(ONSA) meant for arms procurement.
Another source said: “We have already quizzed the ex-Minister who has given useful information on who got what among PDP chieftains in Benue State.
“Our detectives have identified those who signed for the N2billion. In fact, some stalwarts diverted the cash into personal use.
But Mark had denied allegations of conspiracy, abuse of office and mismanagement of funds.
In a statement through his media aide, Paul Mumeh, he said: “To set the record straight, Sen. Mark was invited by the EFCC via a letter addressed to the National Assembly to answer questions on the 2015 presidential election campaign funds as it concerned Benue state.
“As a law abiding citizen, Sen. Mark honoured the invitation.
“Curiously, they also alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) paid over N2bilion into the National Assembly’s account which he, as the then President of the Senate, allegedly shared among the 109 Senators (including PDP, ACN, and ANPP) in 2010. Again, to the best of his knowledge, Sen. Mark is not aware of such transaction.
” This simply did not make sense to any right thinking member of the society. Sen. Mark wondered why anybody would think that PDP will pay money into National Assembly account. He however clarified all the issues raised before returning home.
“Sen. Mark believes in due process and rule of law. He has maintained a clean record of public service over the years and will continue to uphold the highest standard of conduct expected of public servants.
“Sen. Mark’s house has since become a pilgrimage of sort to Politicians across party lines, friends and well-wishers identifying with him at this moment.
“He however appealed to his supporters, friends and associates to remain calm and see his current travails as a price he has to pay for leadership.
“For the avoidance of doubt, this is the first and only official statement from the office of Sen. Mark on this issue.”

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Godwin Okafor is a financial journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and the Founder Naija247news Media Ltd He has over 16 experiences in journalism, which cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career in Business Day, Where he was a senior editorial graphic artist, before he left to start Naija247news, An Online Financial Newspaper in 2010. He has won series of awards and he is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.com and also sits on the board of Students In Business Awards, (SIBA). He currently lives in Manhattan New York

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