It was revealed yesterday that the 47 Sports Utility Vehicles and 100 motorcycles the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently recovered from a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power were bought for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign in the 2015 general election.
The sum of N1.5 billion with which the vehicles were acquired was allegedly sourced from the diverted N27 billion insurance premium of deceased workers of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
All the vehicles were said to have been paid for by the former Permanent Secretary, Dr. Godknows Igali, to aid the campaign efforts of the Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation in the build-up to the presidential election.
The EFCC was said to have intercepted the vehicles and motorcycles after an alarm was raised by an artisan.
An EFCC source said yesterday that there was “overwhelming evidence” against the former Perm Sec.
Another source, who spoke in confidence, said the 47 vehicles were seized from some secret locations where Igali had kept them.
More than 100 motorcycles parked at a facility in Mabushi Area of Abuja were also confiscated by the EFCC.
The confiscated items include SUVs, Toyota Coaster buses, Toyota Hilux trucks and 16-seater buses.
The source said: “Igali had allegedly secured the hefty heist in well-guarded premises in an upscale neighbourhood of Abuja.
“But luck ran out on him when an artisan called to fix a faulty utility vehicle became curious over the avalanche of the state of the art vehicles parked in the premises and tipped off the EFCC.
“The commission immediately commenced discreet investigation.
“In the course of investigation, it discovered that all the vehicles were supplied by Dilly Motors at the instance of Igali.”
The source claimed that about N1.5 billion paid for the vehicles was allegedly sourced from the diverted N27 billion insurance premium of deceased workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The cash was allegedly laundered by Igali through Baseworth Insurance Brokers in order to cover his track.
The source added: “It was initially difficult to determine the source of the funds with which the vehicles were purchased as it did not come directly from Igali’s account.
“But a breakthrough came as the EFCC stumbled on evidence of a curious payment to Dilly Motors from the account of Baseworth Insurance Brokers Limited, a company that was under investigation in another case of alleged diversion of N27 billion insurance premium of deceased staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.
“In one of the transfers, N300 million was paid to Dilly Moors from the account of Baseworth Insurance Brokers.
“Operatives of the Commission were curious to determine the service which Dilly Motors rendered to Baseworth Insurance Brokers to warrant payment.
“Dilly Motors, on interrogation, allegedly admitted that the N300 million was part of the N1.5 billion paid by Igali for the purchase of vehicles for the Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation to prosecute the 2015 general election.
“Igali was earlier this year arrested by the Commission and made a statement after which he was released on administrative bail.”
At press time, it was learnt that the EFCC was finalising plans to arraign Igali in court.
A top EFCC source said: “We have substantial evidence against Igali. He is going to face trial any moment from now.
“In profiling Igali, our detectives discovered that he is a kinsman of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and he assisted the Gooodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation with vehicles by diverting public funds for such illegality.
“Actually, Igali had made useful statement and our detectives have spent the last five to six months to conduct diligent investigation.
“There is a prima facie case against him. It is left for the ex-Permanent Secretary to prove his innocence in court.”
The Nation had exclusively reported on October 10 that the EFCC had frozen N6,811,846,443.05 in the accounts of some companies belonging to a cousin to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and Bestworth Insurance Brokers Ltd.
The frozen cash was part of the N27,188,232,208.20 benefits of the deceased employees of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), which were diverted.
Out of the amount, the sum of N951,637,223 only deducted FIRS VAT and WHY was paid through Diamond Bank and UBA Plc for direct credit to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
About N26,236,594,986 was looted by some top officials of the former Jonathan government, including the purchase of vehicles for the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation.
These highlights were contained in the report of EFCC on the diversion of the benefits of dead PHCN workers.
The EFCC said in part: “Sometimes in 2014, above named (names withheld) conspired amongst themselves and used Bestworth Insurance Brokers Ltd to divert N27,188,232,208.20 from the Federal Government of Nigeria through the BPE.
“The said account was originally approved to be released to Great Nigeria Insurance Plc (GNIP) as Group Premium Insurance (death and accident) claim to the next of kin of ex-PHCN staff who died in service and those that suffered incapacitation from accidents.
“Both covert and overt investigation aimed at determining the veracity of the information was discretely carried out into the Insurance Brokers Ltd domiciled with Skye Bank, Unity Bank and Keystone Bank.
“Efforts were also made to locate, identify and profile the operation of the company at both their Kaduna and Lagos offices.
The totality of these efforts led to the following findings:
“That the FGN decided to privatise the PHCN through BPE. The proceeds from sales were remitted to the OAGF.
“That the Federal Ministry of Power and the Federal Ministry of Labour in a bid to resolve a dispute emanating from the staff of the PHCN over unpaid insurance claims diverted the matter to BPE who advised that the claim be paid from the proceeds of the privatised PHCN.”
The EFCC gave the details of how the fraud was perpetrated by convincing the National Council on Privatization (NCP) to approve the disbursement of the funds.
The report added: “That the National Council on Privatization (NCP) during its third meeting held on 4th August 2014, amongst others, recommended the release of N27,188,232,208.20 to Great Nigeria Insurance Plc as settlement of insurance claim which the President approved.
“Based on the above, on the 10th December 2014, the sum of N26,236,594,986 was released to Bestworth Insurance Brokers Ltd of J415 Ibadan Street, Kabba road, Kaduna .
“The principal proprietor of the company is yet to be arrested and the sum of N951,637,223 only deducted FIRS VAT and WHY was paid through Diamond Bank and UBA Plc for direct credit to FIRS.”
The EFCC said it has frozen about N6.8 billion in more than nine accounts and seized a N585 million property from a former Chief of Staff.
It said: “Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited maintains a corporate standard current Ac No. 1771645118 with Skye Bank Plc; Ac No. 0025251085; 0025860162; 0025872242 with Unity Bank and Ac. No 1040199787, 10052599665, 05102001142, 107102000361; 10440359482 with Keystone Bank Plc. An order has been obtained from a court of competent jurisdiction to freeze these accounts to aid recovery.
“Further investigation disclosed that the insurance broker distributed these funds to various companies including a company controlled by a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan into whose account the sum of N2.5 billion was paid.
“This Commission has traced and frozen the sum of N2 billion in the accounts at S/No (f) above in a related case being investigated involving the company while the suspect was charged to court.
“Similarly, the sum of N1 billion paid in four instalments was traced to Kebna Studios and Communication Nigeria Ltd controlled by a former DG of BPE.
“The sum of N300 million was equally traced to Dilly Motors Ltd who produced documents that indicated delivery of vehicles to the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation worth more than N1.5 billion and that part of these included the said money traced to the company.
“Investigation has established a direct link between the recovered vehicles and the N300 million paid to Dilly Motors Ltd.
“Meanwhile, a credit balance of N2,004,846,443.05 traced to Bestworth Insurance Brokers Ltd Skye Bank Acct No: 17711645118 has been frozen. Forfeiture proceedings shall be initiated for the purpose of full recovery.
“Other transfers made to accounts of Bestworth Insurance Brokers Ltd domiciled with Unity Bank Plc were also traced and the sum of N2,507,000,00 found in the accounts were frozen for possible recovery.
“The investigation is yet to be concluded.
“The development is however worrisome as persons entrusted with the keys to the nation’s treasury conspired amongst themselves to loot hapless citizens and the families of the deceased employees of PHCN of their much needed benefits.”