Former Chief of Staff to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Brig. Gen. Jones Oladehinde Arogbofa (rted), has agreed to refund the sum of N150m being the money he allegedly got from some public officers, who dipped their hands into the national purse and stole N27.18bn and used part of the proceeds to purchase a N585m house for the former military general.
However, the bubble burst for Arogbofa when during investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), it was found out that the house, which was presented to the erstwhile Chief of Staff was bought with the money which formed part of the benefits of deceased staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), stolen by some public officers.
He was subsequently invited and quizzed by the anti-graft body following which he agreed to refund about N150m of the terminal benefits which was traced to the property purchased for him.
It was learnt that the anti-graft agency has also grilled a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power who played a role in the diversion of the cash.
Also questioned is the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Otunla Dapo.
Informed sources said those who looted the dead workers’ benefits decided to involve top government officials in the deal to cover up their tracks. About 10 of such officials are currently under surveillance.
The coordinators of the deal were said to have paid cash to or buy expensive gifts for the affected officers.
One of the EFCC sources said: “The perpetrators of the fraud pretended they were doing Arogbofa a favour by virtue of his closeness to ex-President Jonathan. They told him that they had a gift for him which turned out to be the N585m house.
“Having trusted those who gave him the gift, the ex-Chief of Staff did not either ask for the source of funds for the property or how much it cost.
“It was at the EFCC that Arogbofa got to know that the property was bought from the looted the N27,188,232,208.20 benefits of the deceased staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
“When he met a former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Power, who played some roles in the diversion of funds, and others, they started apologizing for roping him in.
“But it was too late for the former Chief of Staff and all those implicated in the dirty deals. The long arm of the law does not accommodate ignorance.
The source added: “We have interrogated the ex-Permanent Secretary but investigation is still ongoing on his roles in the diversion of the funds. This is why we will not disclose his identity to prevent a cover up by other accomplices.
“Preliminary findings pointed to him as one of the arrowheads of the fraudulent diversion of the N27.18bn.
“We have already watch-listed a top official of Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited that was used by the suspects under probe. This means, INTERPOL or any other international organisation can arrest him in any part of the world.”
The source said Arogbofa has agreed to refund N150m traced to the property purchased for him.
“In fact, he has made partial payment to the EFCC and he promised to bring the balance next week.”
Also under probe is the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Otunla Dapo, who was fingered as part of those who looted the N27.18bn.
The EFCC said sometime in 2014, he was among those, who “conspired amongst themselves and used Bestworth Insurance Brokers Ltd to divert N27.18bn from the Federal Government of Nigeria through the BPE.”
Others include, Kebna Studio and Communication Limited; the Managing Director of Kakatar Group, Azibaola Roberts; Director of Funds in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mohammed K. Dikwa,; Innovative Alternative Limited and a top official of Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited, who was said to be on the run as at press time.
The EFCC had since frozen N6, 811, 846,443.05 in the accounts of some companies belonging to Mr Azibaola, a cousin to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited in its ongoing probe.
The frozen cash, EFCC said, was part of The N27.18bn benefits of the deceased staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), which were diverted.