A former prosecutor for the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on Recovery of Public Property, Mr Tosin Ojaomo has alleged that the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) frustrated plans to recover about $60billion stolen funds domiciled in the United States.
In a swift reaction the AGF, Abubakar Malami said the allegation is the work of mischief makers. He said that he has a track record of standing for the recovery of looted funds, adding that records are there to show that he facilitated the recovery of looted assets from the United Kingdom, United States and other countries.
Ojaomo, while making a presentation before the ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives investigating the status of recovered loots said that investigations had been conducted and the presidential panel was about to initiate the process of recovery when President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the chairman of the special panel, Obono Obla in August 2019.
He also alleged that a former auditor-general of the federation withdrew N10 billion from the account of NHIS in two tranches.
According to him, when the panel invited the auditor-general, he wrote a letter that he was not subjected to a directive that his office is an independent office going by the constitution.
“So up till now, we don’t know what happened to the money,” he said.
Ojaomo said most of the documents were handed over to the office of the minister, noting that the panel investigated over 500 cases.
According to him, after the suspension, Malami showed no interest in pressing further with the cases already investigated and concluded by the special panel.
He also said that the special panel discovered a certain account domiciled at Skye Bank, now Polaris Bank, where the sum of $223 million was kept under the guise of the NNPC operations account.
The account, according to Ojaomo was not linked to the TSA. “The panel invited the bank and asked them, what is this money meant for? They said they have a directive to keep the money. It was not satisfactory, the bank was ordered to remit the money to TSA, but the bank pleaded that they should be allowed to pay $10 million every month,” he said.
Ojaomo further revealed that his committee discovered that ExxonMobil has not paid royalties to the federal government. “The panel also invited them based on intelligence, they admitted that they are supposed to pay the sum of $1.9 billion to the federal government and the company paid $600 million.”
When pointedly asked if the funds had been finally forfeited to the government, Ojaomo said some of the recoveries were not forfeiture. “They are money meant for the federal government because the panel is to recover the money that belongs to the federal government,” he said.
When contacted, Malami said he stands firm for the recovery of looted assets. Malami said records are there to show that he facilitated recovery of several looted funds from the United States, United Kingdom and other countries.
The AGF, who spoke through senior special adviser in charge of media, Dr Jubrilu Gwandu, said the allegation is the work of mischief makers. He said, ‘’The AGF has a track record of standing for the recovery of looted funds.
‘’Records are there to show that he facilitated the recovery of looted assets from the UK, US and other countries.
‘’The AGF will not frustrate any effort aimed at recovering Nigeria’s looted funds abroad. The allegation is the work of mischief makers and we challenge anybody with proof to make them public,’’ he said.