A former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Kabiru Turaki (SAN), is under probe for alleged N20bn fraud, a court document filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the Federal High Court in Abuja has revealed.
Turaki, who presided over the ministry from 2013 to 2015 in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, is a political ally of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate in the February 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The former minister is the second most senior member of Atiku’s legal team in their case challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last presidential poll.
The court document obtained by newsmen was used by the EFCC to seek and obtain the final order of forfeiture of some funds linked to the alleged scam said to have taken place with Turaki’s involvement as a minister.
An investigator officer with the EFCC, Bello Adama, who deposed to the affidavit filed in support of the application for forfeiture order, said the commission, in January 2018, received intelligence about an alleged criminal misappropriation of over N20bn by Turaki while in office.
The investigator stated that the money was meant for constituency projects and funds for the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts and Security Challenges in the North-East.
He added that the ministry entered an agreement with companies for the supply of several items including tricycles, fertilizer and motorcycles, but the contract was used by the former minister and his allies to siphon public funds.
The document read in part, “That sometime in January 2018, the applicant received intelligence in respect of a case against the former minister in charge of the now defunct Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Mr Kabiru Taminu Turaki (SAN), alleging conspiracy and criminal misappropriation of public funds involving the sum of over N20bn meant for constituency projects and funds for the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts and Security Challenges in the North-East.
“That preliminary investigation conducted by the commission revealed that the former minister of the FMSDIGA conspired with some contractors and some members of staff of the ministry’s Procurement and Accounts Departments to divert public funds.
“That preliminary investigation further revealed that contrary to contract documentation on the agreement entered into by companies for the supply of several items included tricycles, fertilizer and motorcycles; contractors were made to pay out part of the funds released to them to some members of staff of the ministry or business associates of the former minister.
“That further to the deposition in the foregoing paragraphs, the trio of Titus Okunrinboye, Vincent Odafen and Muara Muhammed Gambo maintained and operated companies which were used to siphon public funds in the name of contracts or consultancy.
“That our investigation into the case further revealed that a larger part of the amount stated in paragraphs 4 and 6 above was fraudulently disbursed by the Central Bank of Nigeria at the instance of the FMSDIGA to individuals and corporate entities that did not carry out and did not intend to carry out any job as specified in the alleged contract documentation.”
On September 26, Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa before whom the EFCC filed its application made the order of final forfeiture of about N600m found in two accounts belonging to Okunrinboye, one of the accountants in the ministry.
The judge had earlier on June 28, 2019 granted the EFCC’s ex parte application ordering the interim forfeiture of the assets.
In compliance with the court’s directive, the order of interim forfeiture was published in a newspaper on July 8, 2019, inviting whoever had an interest in the assets to appear in court to challenge it.
The judge made an order of final forfeiture of the funds on September 26 when no one came up to lay claim to the money which was said to have been voluntarily returned to the EFCC and subsequently paid into an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).