PDP alleges fresh N10b NHIS fraud, cover-up by presidency
The Federal Government has queried the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, and an Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo.The reprimand followed corruption charges they filed against the Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr. Danladi Umar.
In the query, dated February 16 and referenced DPP/ADV:368/15, Magu was ordered to present his response to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, deadline today. Signed by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata, Magu was required to explain what informed the filing of charges against Umar, having been cleared of corruption allegation twice by the same agency.
The query reads in part: “The attention of the AGF was drawn to news report that the EFCC has filed charges of corruption against the Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr. Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.“I am directed by the AGF to seek clarification from you, as to whether the charges were filed on your instruction or directive. And if in the affirmative, what is the compelling basis for doing so?
“This clarification becomes imperative in view of the fact that the Commission’s investigation report dated March 5, 2015, addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), stated that the alleged case against Umar raised a mere suspicion and will, therefore, not be sufficient to successfully prosecute.
“The Commission’s position was maintained and sustained by the AGF while appearing before the House of Representatives’ Investigative Committee in 2015 to the effect that the report of investigations showed that the allegations against Umar were based on mere suspicions.“In view of the foregoing, the AGF requests your prompt briefing, as to the existence of new facts which are contrary to the position in your attached investigation report, sufficient evidence or other developments upon which the prosecution of Umar can be successfully based.
“Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response within 48 hours from the receipt of same is required in the circumstances.”In a separate letter, Keyamo, who was purportedly engaged as a private lawyer by Magu to prosecute the CCT boss, was also requested by the AGF to confirm who authorised him to file the charges. He has today to comply.
The EFCC in two separate letters to the Federal Government through the SGF had in 2015 and 2016 cleared Umar of wrongdoing in an alleged N10 million bribery allegation by a defendant, Rasheed Taiwo Owolabi, who is still standing trial before him on false asset declaration.March 15 has been fixed for Umar’s arraignment.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has never hidden its disdain for the prosecution of the anti-corruption by the APC-led Federal Government stated yesterday that the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari has lost its honour.This followed an allegation that the government concealed the theft of N10 billion from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, told reporters that online reports revealed that the money was withdrawn before the suspension of NHIS Executive Secretary, Yusuf Usman. Buhari recently ordered the reinstatement of Usman, who had been accused of corruption. The move triggered widespread condemnation.
According to Ologbondiyan, the person who acted while Usman was on suspension reportedly questioned the authorisation for the withdrawal.The spokesman said the PDP simply wanted the Presidency to tell Nigerians what it knew about the matter. The Presidency was yet to react as at press time.The statement reads: “Nigerians can now see the level of debauchery associated with this administration. It is appalling that a government can be so depraved that it superintended the stealing of money meant to provide healthcare for the citizens.
“We challenge the Presidency to speak out on this report, as well as similar reported sleazes that have occurred on its watch. Who in the Presidency authorised the withdrawal of the money and who are the beneficiaries?
“What has the Presidency to say about revelations that it ordered the reinstatement of the indicted Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Yusuf Usman, to help conceal this illegal withdrawal and shield members of the Presidency cabal involved in the deal?
“The Presidency has also failed to offer explanations on the alleged involvement of its officials in various sneaky oil subsidy deals, as well as reported diversion of N1.1 trillion worth of crude, last year, to service APC interests.“Nigerians are aware that the Presidency has continued to shield fraudulent cabinet ministers including those known for extorting funds from agencies under them, in addition to those indicted for corrupt enrichment. Indeed, this government stinks and has irredeemably lost all honour.”
The PDP also criticised the Federal Government for telling Nigerians the country is in “a safe hand.” Reacting to a statement by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, that Nigeria is in safe hands, the PDP asked: “How can anybody say that the same Presidency whose incompetence and bad policies are directly responsible for unabated killings, massive unemployment and job losses, collapse of businesses and even the lingering fuel crisis which has brought untold hardship in the land is indeed in a safe hand?”
It said: “This is a government on whose watch the nation has become heavily polarised along dangerous fault lines and where citizens now live in fear and mutual suspicion; where citizens are slaughtered by the day by marauders; where hunger and strange diseases ravage the people due to its bad policies.
“The reasonable take-away from the statement of the information minister is that this government has come to its wits end and has no solution for the troubles it caused the nation.“More so, the minister’s statement has further exposed the fact that this failed administration is not the least remorseful for the pain it has caused the people, which underpins its arrogance and disdain towards Nigerians.”