Minister Accused of Bias in Probe as NCAA Officials Skirt Suspension in N7 Billion Fraud Case


The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, is facing allegations of bias in the investigation of a N7 billion fraud case involving officials of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). President Bola Tinubu’s administration suspended NCAA Director General Captain Musa Nuhu over corruption allegations, but other implicated officials were not suspended, prompting accusations of nepotism.

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Sources within the ministry told SaharaReporters on Monday that Keyamo has shown partiality by not suspending nine other NCAA officials also allegedly involved in the embezzlement of the missing Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) funds. These officials, who are from the same Southern region as Keyamo, have reportedly continued in their positions and even received promotions while quietly returning the stolen funds to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The sources emphasized that civil service rules mandate the suspension of any civil servant under investigation for corrupt practices. However, this rule was only applied to Captain Nuhu, who hails from the Northern region, while the nine officials from the South-South region remain in their roles.

The EFCC has also come under criticism for allegedly compromising the investigation, which has yet to result in charges against the implicated officials after a year of probing. “The civil service rules are clear that an official indicted in a corruption case should be relieved of their duties to clear their name. However, this rule has not been applied to the nine other officials, potentially due to their Southern origin,” another source corroborated.

The allegedly favoured NCAA officials are identified as Obene Jenbarimiema Turniel, Hart Benson, Henry Okorie, Patrick Ejinaka, Edet Enemisit, Laisisi Olayinka, Olumide Salau, Davidson Udeme, and Esuruoso Olayinka. The sources pointed out that the DG’s suspension was intended to allow for an unbiased EFCC investigation, yet the officers involved in the investigation had not been suspended.

The sources suggested that the EFCC’s management should reassess the investigation to ensure no internal corruption has affected the case. “After a year of investigation, the EFCC has failed to charge the nine accused officers to court, opting instead to collect repayments from them in secret tranches. Only the DG and four others were swiftly suspended and charged.”

In March 2023, the EFCC arrested four top officials of the NCAA over allegations of fraud amounting to N2 billion in DTA, later discovered to be N7 billion. A source familiar with the NCAA’s internal workings criticized the EFCC for conducting a superficial investigation, suggesting that a thorough probe could reveal over N20 billion in stolen funds.

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