By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
ABUJA — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has detained and questioned three key staff of President Goodluck Jonathan in a move the agency described as trying to recover looted public funds.
A top official of the EFCC, who spoke to our correspondent last night, said Brig-Gen Jones Arogbofa, who was Jonathan’s Chief of Staff and Dr. Godknows Igali, permanent secretary in the Power Ministry as well as Mr. Benjamin Dikki, immediate past Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, were questioned over questionable payment of N27 billion to an insurance firm.
The source confirmed that the three men were arrested and questioned since September 2 for making what the agency considered an “undeserving payment” of insurance premiums totalling N27 billion in respect of a non-existing service provided for the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
The three men, who worked closely with the previous administration, are said to have connived to effect the nebulous payments for services not provided by the benefitting insurance firms believed to be fronted by top PDP politicians.
It was learned that some patriotic top officials of the BPE alerted the EFCC of the huge, spurious payouts and asked the agency to probe why the officials laundered the funds.
One of the concerned officials of the BPE, Ibrahim Muhammad Kashim, had last year filed a strong petition to the Office of the Vice President, who supervises the BPE, that the N27 billion was paid for a non-existing insurance cover and should be investigated since the money belonged to Nigerians.
The officer, who left office in June 2015, also alerted the Vice President office that the Acting D-G of the BPE had secretly awarded a phantom N1.5 billion contract to a top PDP lawyer to wind up the already liquidated Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, thereby throwing away public funds.
The EFCC is said to be furious that the said money was paid to the benefitting insurance firms retrospectively by the affected officials, thus raising eyebrows among key staff who questioned the motive of the payment.
The affected officers are said to have raised strong memoranda to the government to make the payment to the insurance firms in which some top politicians had vested interests.
EFCC is looking into some leads that the cash was subsequently shared as “parting gifts” among top administration officials in the previous administration.
Some of the officials are said to have received as much as N1 billion from the “packaged deal.”
Purchase of N150m Abuja home
Arogbofa was also reportedly questioned over an Abuja house he recently purchased for N150 million.
A source in the anti-graft agency, however, confirmed to Vanguard last night that the three men had been admitted to administrative bail and asked to report routinely as the need arose.