Shocking: Recovered $500m Abacha loot vanishes into thin air, EFCC launches Probe

The $500 million Abacha loot that was recovered from the family of the late Head of State during ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has reportedly gone missing. The Nation reports that EFCC detectives, currently tracking the $500million, have discovered that it was diverted.

Of the $500million, about $250million was released to the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) during the tenure of Col. Sambo Dasuki without appropriation. The balance of $250million cannot be traced yet. Detectives of the antigraft agency discovered that the $250million was illegally withdrawn barely two months to the end of Jonathan’s administration. Investigators are said to be working on clues that part of the cash was spent on “extraneous matters, including media services, opinion polls and personal matters”.

According to a fact-sheet on the investigation, the $250million was withdrawn between March 2, 2015 and April 21, 2015. About $36,155,000 (N13,015,800billion) of the $250million was also withdrawn in cash “without any purpose” on March 2nd, 9th, 16th and 18th of 2015.

Detectives have retrieved documents relating to the alleged “re-looting” of the Abacha loot.

In the fact-sheet, the Office of the National Security Adviser ONSA in a memo of January 12, 2015, asked the former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to transfer $300million .

The memo said

“Please refer to our meeting on recovered funds. You are pleased requested to remit the sum of $300m and £5.5m to the following account being ONSA share as agreed. Account name: CBN (NSA Foreign Operation; Account number: -100367-USD-CABANK30 Bank; Address: 28, Finsbury Circus, London. Please accept the assurances of my highest esteem.”

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, in a memo to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, requested for $300m from the Abacha loot. Only $250million was released to the ex-NSA.

The January 20, 2015 memo said:

“Attached, please find a request by the NSA for the transfer of $300m and British pounds (£5.5m) of the recovered Abacha funds to ONSA operations account. The NSA has explained that this is to enable purchase of ammunition, security and other intelligence equipment for the security agencies in order to enable them confront the ongoing Boko Haram threat. His request is sequel to the meeting you chaired with the committee on use of recovered funds where decision was made that recovered Abacha funds would be split 50-50 between urgent security needs to confront Boko Haram and development needs (including a portion for the Future Generations window of Sovereign Wealth Fund). This letter is to seek your approval to borrow these funds, for now, to disburse to the NSA. These funds form part of projected FG Independent Revenue to be appropriated. In light of this and for accountability, given the peculiar nature of security and intelligence transactions, we would expect the NSA to account to your Excellency for the utilisation of the funds.”

The ex-President granted approval for the release of the money on January 29th 2015.

To back his approval, Jonathan through his Senior Special Assistant (Admin) Matt Aikhionbare, in a memo of January 30, 2015 said: “RE: Request by NSA for transfer of funds.” I am directed to forward Ref A to you and convey to you Mr. President’s approval. Humbly submitted for your further action, Ma’am.”

Detectives have discovered that only $250million out of the $300million requested was paid to ONSA.

In a letter of February 16th 2015, the then Director of Funds of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. M.K. Dikwa, in a memo to the CBN Governor, conveyed the mandate to transfer the $250million.

The memo read

”You are hereby requested to immediately effect fund transfer as below($250m) being amount disbursed to enable for the purchase of ammunition, security and other intelligence equipment for the security agencies in order to enable them fully confront the ongoing Boko Haram threat. As per Mr. President’s approval on CME-HMF/FMF/2015/18 dated 20th January 2015 conveyed via State Houses letter No PRES/87/MF /-2/520 dated 30th January 2015. NSA’s letter Ref. No. NSA/362/5 dated 5th March 2015 also refers.”

A source who spoke to The Nation said

“The $250million was duly approved by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan; the ex-NSA did not commit any infractions. He acted in the interest of the country. It is incorrect for EFCC to assume that the $250million was diverted because it was used to purchase vital equipment.”

An EFCC source, who spoke in confidence, said:

“We will need to interact with the former Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala, to guide us on the contents of her letter, especially on the legality of the withdrawal of the $250million. We will find out what she meant by to ‘borrow these funds’ and these ‘funds form part of projected FG Independent Revenue to be appropriated.’ She should assist investigators on whether or not the ex-NSA accounted to Jonathan for the ‘utilization of the funds.’

A former Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, had claimed that Abacha “took over $6 billion from Nigeria”. He also said $2 billion was recovered when he was in charge of the anti-graft agency.

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