The nation’s lead anti-graft agency, EFCC, told PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday that it will investigate the financial infractions perpetuated by some officials of the former ministry of power, works and housing in the last third of 2019.
EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said this in response to this newspaper’s exposé on how, within four months, about ₦4.6 billion was paid into the personal accounts of 21 employees of the former ministry.
About two-thirds of the illegal payments were paid to both Ogueri Ugochukwu Pascal, who got ₦1.6 billion, and Olasehinde Micah, who was paid ₦1.4 billion, both within four months.
Now split into the ministry of power and the ministry of works and housing, both ministries have failed to claim responsibility for paying the two officials.
Power ministry said a large slice of the payments they made were for duty tour allowances, but an anti-corruption advocate, Olanrewaju Suraj, faulted the claim.
“This is an attempt by the ministry to distract (the public),” Mr Suraj told PREMIUM TIMES. “You cannot make an anticipatory payment as huge as that with little details,” he said, adding that “the discovery should be told to the law enforcement agencies.”
Nigerians have also aired their voices on social media, calling on EFCC and its sister anti-graft agencies to launch a probe.
EFCC makes move
EFCC has promised to investigate the allegations in the report.
“As the lead investigative agency for financial crimes in Nigeria, the EFCC does not ignore any information that suggest(s) impropriety in any guise,” Mr Uwujaren said in a mailed response to this reporter.
He added that though the “commission is not aware of the details of the payments indicated in the report, it will take a closer look at it.”
He, however, declined to give a timeline within which the outcome of the probe should be expected.
In the same vein, repeated calls and a text message sent to the spokesman of the nation’s accountant-general, Henshaw Ogubike, were neither acknowledged nor answered.
The spokeswoman of the ICPC, Azuka Ogugua, promised to respond later, but had not at press time.