A former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC.
A source at the EFCC told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Anyim, who also served as Secretary to the Government of the Federation in the Goodluck Jonathan administration, was invited on Friday and was still at the commission’s office in Abuja as at press time.
Mr. Anyim is being questioned for his role in the alleged mismanagement of ecological fund while in office as SGF, among other matters, our source said.
ECOLOGICAL FUND SHORTFALL
While serving as SGF in 2012, Mr. Anyim was linked to shortfalls of about N396 billion in the Ecological Funds deductions.
Subsequently, he was invited by the Senate Committee on Special Duties and House Committee on Environment to provide details of how money for the Ecological Fund office was spent but he never showed up in any of the committees.
The report by the house committee reads, “the Statement of Affairs presented by the Accountant General indicates that 1.46 percent was used in calculating inflows into the fund from January 2003 to December 2003.”
This according to the statement was later reviewed downward to 1 percent from January 2004 to June 2012, in complete violation of the provision of the Federation Account Act which provides for 2 percent.
The report also notes N93.8 billion was transferred from the Ecological Fund Account to Consolidated Revenue Fund (CFR) and Federation Account to fund the acceleration of capital budget advances to states and local governments to meet shortfalls and funding of 2009 as well as Third Quarter Development Funds Warrant etc.
The House report said of the amount, only N50 billion was paid back leaving a shortfall of N43.7 billion unpaid.
“The submissions under review also indicated that a total loan of N60,750,000,000.00 was taken from the Ecological Fund Account by both the Federal and State Governments for purposes not related to Ecological problems,” the report also stated. Of this loan, only N30.5 billion was repaid, the report states.
The failure of Mr. Anyim and the then Environment Minister, Hadiza Mailafia, to appear before the Senate committee halted further probe into how the funds were being spent.
THE CENTENARY PROJECT PROBE
The arrest of the former SGF is also believed to be linked to his alleged involvement in fraud in the execution of the multi-billion dollars Centenary City Project.
The Centenary City Project was initiated by former President Jonathan to mark the 100 years of amalgamation of Nigeria’s Southern and Northern protectorate by Britain.
Mr. Anyim was alleged to own about 3, 000 acres of land at the centenary city.
In February, Mr. Anyim had appeared before the House of Representatives to answer questions on why the 1, 267 hectares project was owned by two companies, Basic Start Limited and Company First Limited.
After a heated argument at the floor of the House of Representatives, he walked out on the lawmakers after rejecting Herman Hembe chairman of the hearing.
The centenary city, estimated to cost $18.3 billion, was supposed to be a private project, but was later discovered to have been diverted for personal gains, the House committee said in its report.
The report indicted Mr. Anyim and recommended that he alongside a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed; and two directors of the centenary city, Paul Oki and Boma Ozobia, be investigated by anti-graft agencies.
The chamber’s prayer was in upheld in September when an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court dismissed an application seeking the nullification of the report.
Delivering his judgement, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba said the arguments of the plaintiff that they were not given the right of fair hearing lacked merit, and was not reason enough to dismiss the findings of the report.
Also, a former deputy national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Cairo Ojougboh, in 2015 demanded the investigation of Mr. Anyim over his alleged roles in the creation of the centenary city, in 2014.
According to a petition addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Ojougboh said Nigeria had no equity in the project, alleging that Mr. Anyim owned the 3000 acres of land used for the execution of the said project.
Efforts to reach Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC spokesperson, were unsuccessful as at the time of this report.