From Fred Itua, Abuja
Few days after operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested Mr. Ahmed Idris the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), in connection with an alleged diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of N80billion, fresh facts have emerged that more officials might soon be picked up by the anti-graft agency.
According to the anti-graft agency, investigation showed that the AGF raked in the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities, using proxies, family members and close associates. The funds, according to EFCC, were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.
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Mr. Idris was arrested after failing to honour invitations by the EFCC to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts. A competent source in EFCC who pleaded not to be named, told Saturday Sun that more staff, highly-placed persons and other interested government officials involved in the financial heist, will be arrested soon.
The source said what the public knows is a scratch on the surface compared to what further investigation by the anti-graft agency has so far revealed. He said the AGF was due for retirement about two years ago, but was reportedly extended by the presidency, despite the clear violation of the civil service rule.
The source said through a clandestine move, Idris used many pseudo names to invest in and outside of Nigeria. He wondered how a public officer who should catch thieves, has now become the thief. He listed United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and other Scandinavian countries, where the Idris starched the funds as investments. The EFCC source said the agency has already commenced moves to recover some of the assets, while reaching out to countries suspected to he harbouring some of the looted funds. He said when investigations are concluded, Idris will be charged to court. The source said Idris is working with operatives to bring a closure to the issue.
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Meanwhile, fresh facts have emerged that the Senate committee on Public Accounts’ negligence and compromise to properly supervise the AGF’s office, may have led to the financial sleaze.
By law, the Senate committee is constitutionally mandated to supervise activities of the AGF’s office. However, the committee headed by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, has repeatedly failed to hold Idris to account.
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The law requires that the office of the AGF submits an audit report to the Senate committee on Public Accounts. The Senate committee, by law, is expected to carry out a comprehensive verification of claims made in the report by the AGF’s office.
However, the committee, in the last seven years, has failed to comprehensively perform this role. It has also failed to present a report to the Senate for a proper deliberation and therefore, a position on financial malfeasance by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). With the new revelation and arrest of the AGF by EFCC, there are fears that the Senate leadership may tinker with the leadership of the committee for optimal performance. Senate sources said the issue will he extensively debated when the Senate reconvenes in June, after the primaries of political parties.