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World Bank blacklists CCECC, five other Chinese firms in Nigeria for fraud

Some Chinese companies in Nigeria have been blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud and corruption.

The companies include China Railway Construction (International) Nigeria Company Limited, China Railway 18th Bureau Nigeria Engineering Company Limited, CCECC Nigeria Lekki (FTA) Company Limited, CCECC Nigeria Railway Company Limited, CRCC Petroleum & Gas Company Limited, and CCECC Nigeria Company Limited.

All the companies are very active in Nigeria, with ongoing or completed contracts for the construction of railways, highways, housing estates, airport terminals, municipal engineering, water resource, and hydro-power engineering projects for federal and state governments.

The World Bank announcement on its website accused the companies and several others around the world of violating the bank’s fraud and corruption policy.

Consequently, the six companies were debarred and declared ineligible to be awarded any World Bank-financed contracts for at least a year, between June 4, 2019 and March 3, 2020.

Fraud & corruption policy

It was not clear what specific infractions the companies committed, as there were no available details. No official of the World Bank in Nigeria Country office responded to calls on Sunday to seek for clarifications.

But, details on the bank’s website said the companies were accused of violating the provisions of the Procurement Guidelines, 1.16(a)(ii) bordering on fraud and corruption.

The policy is spelt out in the Procurement Guidelines and the Consultant Guidelines for projects executed before July 1, 2016; or through the World Bank Procurement Regulations for Investment Project Financing Borrowers for projects after July 1, 2016.

The bank’s policy requires borrowers, including beneficiaries of its loans, to observe the highest standard of ethics during the procurement and execution of bank-financed contracts.

In pursuit of this policy, the bank sees a corrupt practice as the “offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting, directly or indirectly, of anything of value to influence improperly the actions of another party.

Similarly, the bank sees the fraudulent practice as “any act or omission, including a misrepresentation, that knowingly or recklessly misleads, or attempts to mislead, a party to obtain financial or other benefits, or to avoid an obligation.”

More about affected companies

China Railway Construction (International) Nigeria Company Limited has registration No: N1000201600386. Its corporate office address is at No.34, Amazon Street, Maitama, Abuja.

Also, it is the subsidiary of the China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC) established in November 2007 in Beijing, China.

At the moment, the company is involved in the construction of the 186 kilometres single standard gauge tracks of the Abuja-Kaduna Railway.

The project is part of the $8.3 billion (N2.5 trillion) federal government rail modernisation programme, whose contract was awarded in 2010 to replace the existing narrow gauge system.

Although the contract was awarded initially in 2006, its implementation could not proceed due to funding constraints. In 2010, the contract was reviewed and broken into different standalone segments.

The CRCC also won the $1.53 billion contract for the rehabilitation of the 312 kilometres double-track standard gauge Lagos-Ibadan rail line.

All the contracts were to be funded under a financing deal involving concessionary loans facilitated by the China export-import (EXIM) bank and the Nigerian government.

China Railway 18th Bureau Nigeria Engineering Company Limited, with Registration No: N1000201800131), has its corporate office at Plot 60, Cadastral Zone B09, Kado District, Abuja.

Also, China Railway 18th Bureau Nigeria Company Limited, with Registration No: 2008-001998, is a subsidiary of China Railway 18th Bureau Group Company Limited. It specializes in the provision of heavy construction services. In August 2016, the company, along with China Railway Construction Electrification Bureau Group Company Limited, was awarded the contract for the construction, housing and transportation Ministry of Railways to the Kano City Light Rail (1,2,3,4 line).

The other companies sanctioned by the World Bank include CCECC Nigeria Lekki FTA Company Limited with registration No: 0241 at the Lekki Free Zone, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos. It is involved with the ongoing development of infrastructure at the Lekki FTA in Lagos.

The World Bank also named CCECC Nigeria Railway Company Limited among the affected companies.

The company with Registration No: 679271 has its operation base At Plot 215 Cadastral Zone C00, Institute and Research District, Km10, Airport Road, Abuja.

CRCC Petroleum & Gas Company Limited, with registration No: 1000201300324 and operational office NO.10A, Usuma Crescent, Maitama A5, Abuja is the oil and gas subsidiary of the CRCC.

CCECC Nigeria Company Limited with Registration No: 1000201200017 has its office as Plot 215 Cadastral Zone C00, Institute & Research District, Km10, Airport Road, Abuja.

None of the companies responded to calls to them on Sunday to seek their official reaction to the development.

CCECC railway contracts

In 2018, CCECC was enmeshed in a scholarship award scandal in which senior government officials, including ministers, shared among themselves opportunities offered young Nigerians to study abroad.

On June 7, 2018, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, wrote to the then Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, about the offer by the Chinese firm to send 40 young Nigerians abroad for training under a “railway engineering scholarships”

Rather than throw open the offer to all qualified Nigerians, the Chinese firm allowed privileged government officials to hijack it for their wards and cronies.

Some of the government officials involved were the then Minister of State for Education, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Jigawa State Governor, Minister of Transportation, and the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Presidential Villa.

In May this year, BudgIT, a civic group focused on issues of government budget, raised issues about the light rail project awarded to CRCC by the Lagos State Government.

According to BudgIT, discrepancies exist between the $182 million contract reported in the 2010 annual report of the company to its shareholders and the $1.2 billion claimed by the Lagos State Government.

 

Premium Times 

Threat to life: Drama in court as complainant stands surety for defendant

A mild drama ensued in a Sharia Court on Monday as a former district head of Narayi, Kaduna State, Ibrahim Hamza, who allegedly accused a teacher, Muhammad Khalid, of threatening his life, stood as surety for him.

Hamza, 65, who lives at Hayin Malam Bello, Kaduna, dragged Khalid to court, alleging that he threatened to kill him and also defamed him.

Hamza told the court that the defendant also dragged his son, who is a minor to a vigilante group , where he was beaten for stealing a cell phone.

The Judge, Murtala Nasir, admitted the defendant, after Hamza, begged for his bail.

Nasir adjourned the case until August 26 and ordered the defendant to produce members of the vigilante group for further hearing.

The defendant, who is an Islamic teacher, however, denied the allegations.

Lagos Assembly rejects three Exco nominees, confirms 35

The Lagos State House of Assembly, on Monday, confirmed 35 of the 38 nominees of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for appointment as Commissioners and Special Advisers.

The House rejected three of the nominees, Ms Adekemi Ajayi-Bembe, Mr Obafemi George and Prince Olanrewaju Sanusi, during the confirmation at its plenary.

The confirmation followed the presentation, debate and adoption of the report of the House’s 16-man ad hoc committee for the screening of the nominees

The report was laid and presented by the Chairman of the committee, Mr Rotimi Abiru, the Chief Whip of the House.

The committee had, on August 1, commenced the screening of the first batch of the cabinet list comprising 25 nominees and concluded the exercise on August 3.

The committee also resumed the screening of the second batch of the nominees on August 15 and completed the exercise on August 16.

The confirmed nominees were Mr Tunji Bello, Mr Gbolahan Lawal, Dr Wale Ahmed, Mrs Lola Akande, Prince Olanrewaju Elegushi, Mr Hakeem Fahm, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, Mr Afolabi Ayantayo and Mr Samuel Egube.

Others were Mrs Bolaji Dada, Mr Moruf Akinderu-Fatai, Mr Olusegun Dawodu, Mrs Solape Hammond, Arch. Kabiru Abdullahi, Mr Olalere Odusote and Mr Aramide Adeyoye.

Dr Frederick Oladeinde, Mr Olatunbosun Alake, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), Prof. Akin Abayomi, Dr Rabiu Olowo, Dr Idris Salako, Mr Bonu Solomon Saanu, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, and Mr Oluwatoyin Fayinka were also confirmed.

Others included Princess Aderemi Adebowale, Mrs Shulamite Adebolu, Mrs Toke Benson-Awoyinka, Mr Adetokunbo Wahab, Mrs Ajibola Ponnle, Mrs Yetunde Arobieke, and Ms Ruth Olusanya.

The remaining confirmed nominees were Mr Gbenga Omotoso, Mr Oladele Ajayi, Mr Joe Igbokwe.

Before their confirmation by the House, the Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, invited each nominee for brief introduction during plenary.

During the exercise, the nominees promised to serve the state conscientiously in whichever portfolio assigned to them by the governor.

After a voice vote on each nominee by the Speaker, the House confirmed 35 out of the 38 nominees as commissioners and special advisers-designate.

Obasa said: “In pursuant to the Section 192 subsection 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the House now confirms the appointment of the following governor’s nominees.”

The speaker directed the Clerk of the House, Mr Sanni Azeez, to forward the list of the confirmed nominees to Sanwo-Olu.

He said that the governor could still re-nominate those rejected by the House, if he so desired.

The House adjourned plenary until August 27.

Diezani asks court to order EFCC to release $40m jewellery

A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has urged the court to order the return of her 2,149 pieces of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone, valued at $40m, which were seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Diezani, who is currently in the United Kingdom, accused the EFCC of entering her apartment illegally and taking the items without any court order.

She said the anti-graft agency violated her fundamental “right to own property and to appropriate them at her discretion,” under sections 43 and 44 of the Constitution.

She urged the court to reject the prayer by the EFCC to permanently forfeit the jewellery and the gold iPhone to the Federal Government.

These were contained in an application filed on her behalf by Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN), before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The EFCC had, on July 5, 2019, secured an order of the court temporarily forfeiting the jewellery and the gold iPhone to the Federal Government.

The anti-graft agency told the court that it found and recovered the jewellery and the customised gold iPhone “on the premises of the respondent;” adding that it reasonably suspected that the former minister acquired them with “proceeds of unlawful activities.”

According to the schedule attached to the application, the jewellery, categorised into 33 sets, include “419 expensive bangles; 315 expensive rings; 304 expensive earrings; 267 expensive necklaces; 189 expensive wristwatches; 174 expensive necklaces and earrings; 78 expensive bracelets; 77 expensive brooches; and 74 expensive pendants.”

The EFCC asserted “the respondent’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the properties sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

After granting the interim forfeiture order on July 5, the court adjourned till August 19 for Diezani or anyone interested in the jewellery and gold iPhone to appear before it to give reasons why the items should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

But in the application filed on her behalf by Kalu (SAN), Diezani, contended that the court lacked jurisdiction to have granted the interim forfeiture order in the first place, as she had not been charged with any crime or served with any summons by the EFCC.

She stressed that the entry into her apartment by EFCC operatives was illegal as it was without a court order.

The lawyer added that the temporary forfeiture order was prejudicial to Diezani because she was denied fair hearing.

The application, which was scheduled to be argued on Monday (today), was, however, stalled as Kalu was unable to come to court.

A lawyer from his chambers, Chukwuka Obidike, told the court that the SAN was engaged in election petitions, and prayed for an adjournment.

Justice Nichola Oweibo adjourned the case till August 29.

Ekweremadu returns to Nigeria, speaks on attack in Germany

Ike Ekweremadu, former deputy senate president, has returned to Nigeria after the attack on him by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Nuremberg, Germany.

The lawmaker was attending the Second Annual Cultural Festival and Convention organised by Ndi-Igbo in Germany when the embarrassing incident took place.

Speaking at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on Monday, the lawmaker narrated how it all started.

“I was informed that the place is full and that the mayor of the city where we visited was very cooperative. And the Nigerian ambassador to Germany was also at the venue, so we had to rush down,” he said.

“When I got there, I saw a lot of Igbo people who had assembled so I was excited and I came out of the car because I saw so many people, I wanted to say hello to them. We were exchanging pleasantries. So, they were a couple of Igbo people, IPOB and emblems so one of them now accosted and blasted me and said that we didn’t do much when we had python dance (a military operation) in the south-east. I told him let me exchange greetings with others and I can now respond to him later as I was just coming in. So he held my hand and said no, I now removed my hand and started shaking other people. So at that point, the organisers apparently noticed what was going on and wanted to resist them, then the fight ensued.”

IPOB has come under severe criticisms over the incident.

Ekweremadu’s attackers will be tried under German law, says embassy

The Nigerian embassy in Germany says the attackers of Ike Ekweremadu, former deputy senate president, will be prosecuted under German laws.

Under German laws, physical assaults are punishable by fines or imprisonments of up to 10 years, depending on the gravity.

Ekweremadu, who is a serving senator from Enugu state, was beaten up by members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in Nuremberg, Germany, on Saturday at an event organised under the auspices of “Ndigbo Germany”.

In a press statement circulated  on Monday evening, the embassy of Nigeria in Berlin said the threat level of the event had been classified as “minimal” by the German police, hence the lack of security personnel at the event.

Ekweremadu was molested as he arrived the venue to give the keynote.

THE FULL TEXT OF THE EMBASSY’S STATEMENT
The Embassy of Nigeria, Berlin, Germany wishes to react to viral videos of a vicious physical attack on the immediate past Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate and serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ike Ekweremadu, by some members an illegal and terrorist entity named Indigenous Peoples of Biafra ( POB) in Nuremberg on 17th August 2019.

The attack happened at an event organised by Nigerians in Germany under the auspices of a socio-cultural organisation known as Ndigbo Germany, a registered entity in the Federal Republic of Germany. Invitations were extended to Nigerian dignitaries, including the Distinguished Senator and Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, His Excellency Yusuf Maitama Tuggar. The Nigerian Ambassador also honoured the invitation but arrived at the venue shortly after the incident. The organisers reportedly requested for police protection to ensure public order during the event but were told that the threat level was minimal and did not require stationing of any personnel at the venue before the incident.

The Embassy has requested a thorough investigation of this attack with a view to identifying the perpetrators and bringing them swiftly to justice in accordance with German law.

This would deter future acts of violence against officials of the Nigerian Government on German soil particularly against the backdrop of threats by the proscribed IPOB to carry out similar attacks on more Nigerian dignitaries, especially those from the South Eastern part of the country.

Embassy of Nigeria Berlin, Germany 19th August 2019

Fowler replies Kyari, says recession, oil price affected tax revenue

The recession experienced by the Nigerian economy in 2016 as well as lower oil prices affected the revenue collected by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) between 2015 and 2018, Tunde Fowler, the chairman, has said.

Despite the challenges, Fowler explained, non-oil revenue such as VAT and company income tax — which he said are within the control of FIRS — have been on the increase compared to pre-2015 figures.

But oil-based taxes, such as petroleum profit tax (PPT), are beyond the control of the service.

He was responding to a memo from Abba Kyari, the chief of staff to the president, who said there were significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.

Kyari also said the actual collections for 2015 to 2017 were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014.

In the letter dated August 8, 2019, Kyari gave Fowler up till August 19 to explain the reasons “for the poor collections”.

‘WE GREW NON-OIL REVENUE’

Fowler, who is rounding off his four-year term as FIRS chairman amid speculations that he will not be re-appointed, explained in his response that non-oil tax revenue has actually been on the rise.

He wrote in his response obtained by TheCable: “I refer to your letter dated 8th August, 2019 on the above subject matter and hereby submit a comprehensive variance analysis between budgeted and actual collections for each main tax item for the period 2012-2018 as requested (see appendix 1).

“Your letter stated that actual collections for a 3-year period were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014. Total actual collection for the said period was N14,527.85 trillion, while total actual collection between 2016 to 2018 was N12,656.30 trillion. The highlight of these collection figures was that during the period 2012 to 2014, out of the N14,527.85 trillion, oil revenue accounted for N8,321.64 trillion or 57.28% while non-oil accounted for N6,206.22 trillion or 42.72% and during the later period of 2016 to 2018, out of the N12,656.30 trillion, oil revenue accounted for N5,145.87 trillion or 40.65% and non-oil revenue accounted N7,510.42 trillion or 59.35%. FIRS management has control of non-oil revenue collection figures while oil revenue collection figures are subject to more external forces.”

TheCable can also report that Fowler is upbeat that the initiatives he introduced have improve Nigeria’s tax revenue collections.

He wrote: “The non-oil revenue collection grew by N1,304.20 trillion or 21% within the period 2016 to 2018.

“Kindly note that the total budget collection figure during 2012 to 2014 stood at N12,190.52 trillion compared to N16,771.78 trillion for the period 2016 to 2018, which represent an increase of 37.58%.

“Please note that the variance in the budgeted and actual revenue collection performance of the Service for the period 2016 to 2018 was main attributed to the following reasons:

“1. The low inflow of oil revenues for the period especially Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) was due to fall in price of crude oil and reduction of crude oil production. Notwithstanding government efforts to diversify the economy, oil revenues remains (remain) an important component of total revenues accruable to the Federation. The price of crude oil fell from an average of $113.72, $110.98 and $100.40 per barrel in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to $ 52.65, $43.80 and $54.08 per barrel in 2015, 2016 and 2017. There was also a reduction in crude oil production from 2.31mbpd, 2.18mbpd and 2.20mbpd in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to 2.12mbpd, 1.81mbpd and 1.88mbpd in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.

“2. The Nigerian economy also went into recession in the second quarter of 2016 which slowed down general economic activities. Tax revenue collection (CIT and VAT) being a function of economic activities were negatively affected but actual collection of the above two taxes were still higher in 2016 to 2018 than in 2012 to 2014. During the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, GDP grew by 4.3%, 5.4% and 6.3% while in 2015, 2016 and 2017 there was a decline in growth to 2.7%, -1.6% and 1.9% respectively. The tax revenue
grew as the economy recovered in the second quarter of 2017.

“3. It is worthy of note that strategies and initiatives adopted in collection of VAT during the period 2015-2017 led to approximately 40% increase over 2012-2014 collections. In 2014 the VAT collected was N802billion, compared to N1.1 trillion in 2018. This increase is attributable to various initiatives such as ICT innovations, continuous taxpayer education, taxpayer enlightenment, etc embarked upon by the Service.

“4. Furthermore, it is pertinent to note that when this administration came on board in August 2015, the target the target for the two major non-oil taxes were increased by 52% for VAT and 45% for CIT. Notwithstanding the increase, FIRS has in line with the Federal government’s revenue base diversification strategy has grown the non-oil tax collection by over N1.304 trillion (21%) when the total non-oil tax collection for 2016-2018 is compared to that of 2012-2014.

“I am confident that our current strategies and initiatives will improve revenue collection and meet the expectations of government.

“Please accept the assurance of my highest regards.”

PRESIDENCY: FOWLER NOT UNDER INVESTIGATION

Meanwhile, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, has said Fowler is not under investigation.

In a press statement on Monday afternoon, he said it is necessary “to state categorically that the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler, is not under any investigation”.

“The letter from the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, on which the purported rumour of an investigation is based, merely raises concerns over the negative run of the tax revenue collection in recent times,” he said.

“Taking a cue from today’s (Monday) presentation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Retreat for Ministers-Designate, Federal Permanent Secretaries and Top Government Functionaries , which dwelt on an ‘Overview of the Policies , Programmes and Project Audit Committee,’ a body he chaired, projected revenue of government falls behind recurrent expenditure even without having factored in capital expenditure.

“Consequently, it would appear that the country might be heading for a fiscal crisis if urgent steps are not taken to halt the negative trends in target setting and target realisation in tax revenue.

“Anyone conversant with Federal Executive Council deliberations would have observed that issues bordering on revenue form the number one concern of what Nigeria faces today, and therefore, often take a prime place in discussions of the body.

“It is noteworthy and highly commendable that under this administration, the number of taxable adults has increased from 10 million to 20 million with concerted efforts still on-going to bring a lot more into the tax n

FIRS chairman not under any investigation —Presidency

The Presidency on Monday said that the chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler, was not under any probe.

In a statement on its verified Twitter handle, the Presidency dismissed stories of the alleged probe.

The statement as shared on Twitter read, “Following reports making the rounds in some media outlets, it is necessary to state categorically that the Chair of Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler, is not under any investigation.

“The letter from the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, on which the purported rumour of an investigation is based, merely raises concerns over the negative run of the tax revenue collection in recent times.

“Taking a cue from today’s (Monday) presentation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Retreat for Ministers-Designate, Federal Permanent Secretaries and Top Government Functionaries, which dwelt on an ‘Overview of the Policies, Programmes and Project Audit Committee,’ a body he chaired, projected revenue of government falls behind recurrent expenditure even without having factored in capital expenditure.

“Consequently, it would appear that the country might be heading for a fiscal crisis if urgent steps are not taken to halt the negative trends in target setting and target realisation in tax revenue.

“Anyone conversant with Federal Executive Council (FEC) deliberations would have observed that issues bordering on revenue form the number one concern of what Nigeria faces today, and therefore, often take a prime place in discussions of the body.

“It is noteworthy and highly commendable that under this administration, the number of taxable adults has increased from 10 million to 20 million with concerted efforts still on-going to bring a lot more into the tax net.”

EFCC investigating how P&ID deal was approved

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele says the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating the approval of the Process and Industrial Development gas processing deal.

Emefiele made this known on Monday while fielding questions from journalists on Monday before the commencement of the presidential retreat for ministers-designate at the State House Conference Centre.

“I am not scared at all and I think it is also important that this question has come up,” he responded when asked if he was scared of the impact of the judgement of the nation’s foreign reserves.

A British court had given P&ID the go-ahead to seize Nigerian assets worth $9 billion over the government’s inability to meet its side of an agreement to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River.

“Since the news about the judgement broke out late on Friday, we have been discussing with our counsels, and they have advised that there are sufficient and strong grounds on the basis of which we could file a stay of execution and also an appeal against that judgement.

“There are certain anomalies in the process leading to the award of that contract which is currently being looked into by the EFCC and I believe that the EFCC themselves have their own investigation reports about that.

“So, we will follow through and aggressively too on ensuring that the execution of that judgement is stayed and that the appeal succeeds at every level both within Nigeria and abroad.”

In a statement released on Saturday, Reno Omokri, an ex-aide to former president Goodluck Jonathan, had alleged that a cabal loyal to now-deceased former president Umar Musa Yar’adua signed the deal in January 2010 while Jonathan became acting president in February of the same year.

Emefiele assured that the CBN will move strongly to defend the country’s reserves as the judgement would have some impact on monetary policy.

“It is important for me to use this opportunity to assure our friends, local and foreign investors who called to expressed solidarity with us, not to express concern but to say that there is no need for anybody to worry. We know that the implication of that judgement has some impact on monetary policy and that is why the CBN is going to step forward and very strongly too to ensure that we defend the country and defend the reserves of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Winifred Oyo-Ita sends retirement letter to Buhari

Winifred Oyo-Ita, the Head of Service of the Federation, has offered to immediately proceed on retirement in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, The Cable is reporting.

The widow had been under pressure from her immediate family to retire after news reports emerged that she was being probed over an alleged N3 billion contract scam.

Although she has vehemently denied involvement in any scam, she bowed to family pressures and sent in a letter on Sunday offering to proceed on retirement, The Cable said.

Buhari is yet to take a final decision on it but it was learnt that he is favourably disposed to the option.

“Mrs Oyo-Ita has sent in her letter of retirement,” a family member, who asked not to be named, said on Monday morning.

She was absent at the presidential retreat for ministers-designate, federal permanent secretaries and top government functionaries held at the state house conference centre in Abuja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently questioned Oyo-Ita over allegations that she used front companies to get contracts when she was a permanent secretary before her appointment as head of service by Buhari in 2015.

There were insinuations that she was being “punished” for “falling out” with Abba Kyari but it was learnt that the president’s chief of staff was unaware of the EFCC probe until it was leaked to the media.

Oyo-Ita, 55, has also told her associates not to drag Kyari into the matter because “it is not true”, according to a family member who spoke with the paper.

The EFCC said the petition against her was written in 2014 when President Goodluck Jonathan was still in office.

According to the report, Oyo-Ita was not the subject of the probe.

Taminu Turaki, former minster of special duties, was being investigated by the EFCC after he stood as surety to Abdullahi Babalele, son-in-law of Atiku Abubakar, in a case of alleged money laundering.

It was in the process that the EFCC stumbled on a petition against Oyo-Ita, dating to her time as permanent secretary under Turaki.

It was also reported that N600 million was traced to the account of one of her aides who has been quizzed by the anti-graft agency and released.

However, Oyo-Ita also denied the allegation, saying the money was meant for the death benefits of staff and was meant to be kept in a designated account for that purpose by the project accountant.

“She denied knowing anything about where the money was kept and said there was no fraud involved, at least not from her end,” the family member said.

EFCC probes FIRS staff accounts over N1.2bn fraud

As part of its investigation into the N1.2bn duty tour allowance fraud in the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has commenced a forensic analysis of the bank accounts of the staff members.

Sunday PUNCH gathered on Friday that EFCC detectives had obtained details of the bank accounts of FIRS staff and were carrying out a painstaking forensic investigation into “the financial inflows and outflows” in the various accounts in different commercial banks.

It was gathered that the aim of the detectives was to know the depth of the malfeasance perpetrated by the top echelons of the revenue agency in the last four years.

The commission, in April, 2019, recovered part of the DTA allowance from the beneficiaries who refunded millions of naira.

Following the development, the commission widened its investigation into the contracts awarded by the agency since the FIRS Chairman, Babatunde Fowler, assumed office in 2015.

Our correspondent had reported how Fowler attempted to influence the acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, to drop the ongoing investigation into the sleaze in the FIRS, but the anti-graft agency boss resisted the pressure.

The commission subsequently mobilised different teams to investigate the contract awards and estacode payment for foreign trips by the FIRS management.

Head of the FIRS Coordinator Support Services Group, Peter Hena, who allegedly authorised the illegal payment had reportedly made revealing statements during investigation about how the DTA fraud was perpetrated.

The FIRS Director of Finance, Mr Mohammed Auta, had similarly informed detectives that he acted on the instructions of Hena to disburse the fund.

He and other beneficiaries were said to have each received as much as N101m; N97m; N89m; N84m, while others received N65m, N52m and N46m as duty tour allowance.

Giving an update on the investigation, a senior official said, “The investigation has progressed, but we are now carrying out a forensic probe of the bank accounts of the FIRS staff to track the inflow and outflow of the monies paid into them as well as the sources of the funds. So far, our investigation has been revealing.”

When asked about the latest development on the investigation, the acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, said, “The investigation is ongoing and we would brief the media at the appropriate time.”