Accusations and counter-accusations about alleged grand corruption in the Goodluck Jonathan administration continued on Sunday with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo reeling out details of the allegations he called “a tip of the iceberg.”
The details were published Sunday night by the vice president’s office in a reaction to the accusations by supporters of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who reportedly claimed Mr Osinbajo made unsubstantiated allegations about grand corruption during the Jonathan era.
The statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by the vice president’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, said the vice president did not at anytime accuse former President Jonathan in person.
Mr Akande said the vice president has always said the blatant corruption cases were committed during Mr Jonathan’s presidency.
The statement reads:
“We have read reports attributed to “a media office of former President Goodluck Jonathan”. It is clear from the foul language of the authors that the statement could not have come from the former President, but from the motley group of loud and rude characters whose brief seems to be to deny all and anything said against the former PDP government and to do so in the crassest possible language.
“The alleged spokespersons of the former President say that facts long in the public domain, some even being used to prosecute several corruption cases, are lies and that those of us in government restating these well known facts are liars.
“They accuse Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, of lying against the former president or his government, citing their involvement in the stealing of three billion dollars, while speaking recently at The Platform event on the 1st of May.
“Just for clarity, I quote the Vice President “Grand corruption remains the most enduring threat to our economy. Three Billion US dollars was stolen in what was called the strategic alliance contacts in 2013, three Nigerians were responsible, today three billion dollars is one trillion Naira and our budget is 7trillion! ….”
While Mr Akande said no mention was made by his boss of the former president in his statement, he said the story by Mr Jonathan’s media office was false as the allegation about the loss of over $3 billion through the strategic alliance contacts has been subject of criminal investigation and trials in Nigeria and the UK since 2013.
In clarifying that allegations of corruption against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government, Mr Akande said the $3 billion was stolen under the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Strategic Alliance Contracts.
He named three persons reportedly involved in the controversial contract to include Jide Omokore, Kola Aluko and the former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison- Maduekwe.
The statement said companies belonging to both Messrs Omokore and Aluko lifted Nigerian crude oil, but failed to remit the proceeds into the coffers of the government.
“The total sums converted is in excess of three billion dollars, including royalties, taxes and fees unpaid for the asset from which the crude was taken. The case is the subject of a trial in Nigeria, and criminal investigation in the US and UK, and the assets of all three individuals have been forfeited in Nigeria, the US and the UK,” the statement said.
“The criminal diversion and theft of sums in excess of $2.5 billion meant for purchase of arms to prosecute the war against Boko Haram: The first phase of the investigations revealed several sordid details, many of the assets of culprits have been seized from them and they are facing trial.
“The release of the sum of $289m in cash on February 25, 2015: Documents including cash vouchers indicate that the sum of $289,202,382 was taken from the Joint Venture (JV) Cash Call Account No. 000-0000-11658-366 of the NNPC/NAPIMS with JP Morgan Chase Bank, New York, USA.
“N70 billion was released in parts from the national treasury between January 8 and February 25, 2015.
“In another illegal disbursement, 25th August 2014, N60B in cash in tranches of N40billion and N20billion: The sum was not tied to any project or procurement and was then shared between two security agencies under the supervision of the then NSA.
“Most of these sums ended up in the hands of senior PDP members some of whom have returned parts of the loot. Some are standing trial for these offenses. These facts are in the public domain.
“There was yet another set of illegal fund withdrawals under one week between January 8and 16, 2015, where the sum of N1.5 billion was released in three tranches of N300m, N400m and N800m respectively. This money was released from the MEA Research Library Account
“Another document showed that N10 billion was released to the Office of the National Security Adviser by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on September 15, 2014.
“The money was released in tranches of foreign exchange of $47 million, $5 million, 4 million Euros and 1.6 million Euros.
“A letter from the Office of the NSA in November 2014 further showed that the monies were released as ‘funds for special services’. This particular release of N10B was sourced in November 2014 from a N40 Billion CBN released funds meant for Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR. Investigators showed that this money was released for the PDP Presidential Primaries.”
The statement recalled that Lamido Sanusi, then CBN Governor was sacked by then President Jonathan for speaking up about the over $20billion oil money that missing.
“These cases of grand corruption and open looting of public resources pauperized Nigeria and left us with little or no savings in the years when oil was selling at 100 to 114 dollars a barrel and we were producing 2.1 million barrels a day.
“When in 2015 oil prices went even as low as between 28 and 35 dollars a barrel and oil production fell to less than one million barrels a day, we had no buffer, no savings, to tide us through,” the statement continued.
The statement said $289 million (about N88.1 billion) released from CBN in cash on a single day by the former administration was enough to fund some of the projects being handled by the present administration, including 244,000 N-Power graduates for a year, or pay for 1.2 billion school meals or complete half of Lagos -Ibadan or half of Abuja -Kaduna-Kano roads.
The vice president also made the point that in 2014 with oil prices as high as $120 per barrel, the total capital released for Power, Works, Housing, Defence, Transport, Agriculture and Defence were just N152Billion for the whole year.
By contrast, the statement said with oil prices as low as $28 per barrel the Buhari administration committed N578billion to the same Ministries in 2016 as part of the strategy to end the recession.
Regardless, legal counsel to Mr Omokore and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited, Rafiu Lawal-Rabana denied any involvement of his clients in the contract scam.
Mr Lawal-Rabana said Mr Omokore was not in concert with anybody to steal $3 billion as contained in the statement.
“The relationship between Jide Omokore’s company – Atlantic Energy with NNPC/NPDC is well documented as a commercial transaction of which there has been part performance. There is nothing illegal or fraudulent about the transaction,” he said.
He said the matter was already before the court in a criminal proceeding yet to be concluded for which no pronouncement of guilt or corruption has been made against his client.
In his reaction, a former aide to Mr Jonathan, Reno Omokri, questioned why Mr Osinbajo did not leave the anti-graft agencies to do their work.
“Is Vice President Osinbajo so jobless that he has reduced himself and his office to being the spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission?” he said.
Mr Omokri said he wondered how an administration with several illegalities can accuse another administration of graft.
“It is funny that an administration that illegally withdrew $496 million from the Excess Crude Account without due process, allegedly to pay for 12 Super Tocano jets is accusing the Jonathan administration of illegal withdrawals,” he said.