The Nigerian government has suspended the Account-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, following his arrest over money laundering and diversion of public funds allegations on Tuesday.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) intercepted Mr Idris in Kano on Tuesday and subsequently flew him to Abuja.
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, informed Mr Idris of his suspension in a letter on Wednesday.
His suspension is without pay, Mrs Ahmed’s letter stated in the letter dated May 18, 2022.
“Following your recent arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on allegations of diversion of funds and money laundering, I write to convey your suspension from work without pay effective 18th May 2022,” the letter read in part.
The suspension, Mrs Ahmed said, is in line with Public Service Rules to give room for proper and unhindered investigation.
The letter, titled, ‘LETTER OF SUSPENSION’, also bars Mr Ahmed from visiting his office or contacting any official in his office during his suspension except for disciplinary proceedings that might be initiated against him.
“This is to allow for proper and unhindered investigation into the serious allegations in line with Public Service Rules 030408.
“During this period, you are not expected to attend to your place of work or contact any official in your office except for any disciplinary hearing that may be advised.
Also, it is expected that you will strictly comply with any instructions that will be forwarded to you in your current location or your known recorded address as stipulated in the extant rules,” the letter read.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Mr Idris was still in EFCC custody as of the time of filing this report on Wednesday.
This newspaper also reliably gathered from sources with direct knowledge of the case that some assets believed to be proceeds of Mr Idris’ alleged unlawful activities have been traced.
The sources, who asked not to be named because they had no permission to speak about the case in the press, provided photographs of a sprawling edifice located in Kano allegedly linked to Mr Idris.
Our reporter gathered that the agency has obtained a court order for the arrest of more suspects linked to the alleged crime.
The photographs show the property is in its finishing stage.
Operatives refused to reveal the identities of the suspects in order not to jeopardise investigations.
Sources had told this newspaper that the EFCC has for some time now been investigating a case of diversion of at least N80 billion in public funds which were allegedly laundered through some bogus contracts.
The companies used in laundering the funds have allegedly been linked to family members and associates of the suspended accountant-general, investigators said.
Our sources further said after progress was made in the investigation, Mr Idris was summoned repeatedly for interrogation but he failed to honour the invitations.
“We kept inviting him but he kept dodging us,” one of our sources said. “We were left with no choice than to keep him under watch and arrest him.”
The spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached to comment on this story. One of his subordinates said he was travelling in the United Kingdom at this time.
However, a top EFCC official confirmed the development but asked not to be named because he had no permission to discuss the matter with the media.
Mr Uwujaren later issued a statement saying, “Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, May 16, 202,2 arrested serving Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris in connection with diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of N80billion( Eighty Billion Naira only).
“The Commission’s verified intelligence showed that the AGF raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.
“The funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.
“Mr Idris was arrested after failing to honour invitations by the EFCC to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts.”
President Muhammed Buhari appointed Mr Idris accountant-general on June 25, 2015.
The position became vacant at the time after the former Accountant General, Jonah Otunla, left office on June 12, 2015.
President Buhari reappointed Mr Idris for a second four-year term in June 2019, amid criticisms from labour groups who said the accountant-general should retire after turning 60.
Mr Idris, a native of Kano State, North-west Nigeria, was born on November 25, 1960, and was until his appointment in 2015 the Director of Finance and Accounts, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
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