London-Paris Club refunds: How two governors lost $3m, N500m each

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As part of the ongoing probe of the London-Paris Club refunds, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to apply for interim forfeiture of $3 million and N500 million linked to two governors.

Also, two suspects have been listed for trial in connection with the $3 million a governor allegedly laundered through a member of the House of Representatives and his brother.

The said $3 million was said to have been paid into the account of an investment company (name withheld) whose owner is said to be one of the suspects about to be tried.

The affected member of the House of Representatives was said to have gone underground while the serving governor is seeking soft-landing.

The second governor, who had allegedly laundered N500 million from the refunds through a consultancy firm, was fingered in the coordination and bankrolling of a protest march against the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, in Abuja on Thursday.

Investigation conducted by our correspondent revealed that the EFCC was set to lay the facts of its probe of the London-Paris Club refunds which have matured for legal action before the court.

The Presidency had so far released N1.266.44 trillion to the 36 states in the past one year, including the N713.70 billion special intervention funds to states.

Following protests by states against over-deductions for external debt servicing between 1995 and 2002, President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the release of N522.74 billion (first tranche) to states as refunds pending the reconciliation of records.

Each state was entitled to a cap of N14.5 billion, being 25 per cent of the amounts claimed.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said the payment of the claims would enable states to offset outstanding salaries and pension which had been “causing considerable hardship.”

The governors had sought for the loan refunds to states and local governments in a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on May 24, 2016.

But the alleged mismanagement of about N19 billion and $86 million meant for payment of consultants and legal advisers by some governors is under investigation.

Of the huge sum, EFCC has traced $3 million and N500 million to two of the governors.

A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Contrary to the noise being made, we are ready to approach the court for interim forfeiture of $3 million and N500 million linked to two governors through their fronts.

“By the time we file all necessary papers in court, Nigerians will know that we have conducted due diligence in tracking some of the London-Paris Club refunds.

“This is not a case of media trial. Many suspects have appeared before our team and made confessional statements.

“So far, two suspects will face trial on the alleged laundering of $3 million from the London-Paris Club refund for a governor

“On the $3 million, we have been trying to track down a member of the House of Representatives who we suspected had gone underground because he and his younger brother were implicated on how the cash was laundered through an investment company (names provided but withheld).

“As for the N500 million, the other governor allegedly laundered it from the London-Paris Club refunds through a consultancy firm.

“The same governor has been desperate to avoid being probed and to shield his fronts from being prosecuted.

“It was out of desperation that the governor allegedly bankrolled a protest march against the Acting EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, by engaging an amorphous group called Global Centre for Conscious Living Against Corruption (GLOCCOLAC).

“Our detectives are already probing how the governor funded the protest. The cash was openly shared in front of a posh hotel in Abuja with evidence obtained by our detectives.

“The governor was also sighted at a building near the hotel from where he monitored the protest march.

“Despite the fact that he disguised, intelligence picked him up.

“The building where he stayed is not far from EFCC’s office, and it is located near a new complex where electrical fittings are sold. All these places are within the vicinity of EFCC.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “We will apply for the forfeiture of the $3 million and N500 million in order to return them to the treasury. These are public funds allegedly laundered.”

Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 empower the anti-graft agency to invoke Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause on any serving or former public officer or any Nigerian under probe.

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