© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Anti-graft war: Five Buhari ministers perceived as corrupt by Nigerians
But the list contains names of persons with allegations of corruption, despite the president’s disposition towards corrupt practices.
Though the president has frequently boasted about his commitment to end corruption in the country, and has been recognised by the African Union for his fight against corruption, some of his decisions put those claims s to question.
Here is a list of the ministers with an allegation of corruption attached to their names.
Senator Chris Ngige, a former Minister of Labour and Productivity is among the lucky ones who has just been re-appointed. But many Nigerians are of the opinion that the minister hands are not clean.
An ex-Governor of Anambra State from May 2003 to March 2006, Ngige was accused of purchasing $922, 600 worth of property in the United States allegedly bought with public fund
In a petition to the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Advocates for Peace and Effective Justice Development Initiative (APEJDI), a non-profit organisation claimed the minister purchased the house located at 13910, Crest Hill Lane, Crest Hills Acres, Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland, US on March 8, 2008.
Findings by The ICIR, however, revealed that the two-storey building with basement was sold by Longview VII LLC to the Minister on June 6th, 2008. This fact is also contained in the petition submitted to the anti-graft agency in June 2017.
The purported property has a registered deed number 35727/00006 as provided by the Department of Planning and Mapping.
The report states: “The Federal government cannot be seen to be paying lip service to her much orchestrated fight against corruption. Nobody is above the law.
“We, therefore, implore you, sir, to cause an investigation to be carried out in the overall interest of the people of Anambra State and the country in general”. But no public statement has been made by the anti-graft agency on the allegation in the recent time.
Sen George Akume
Also, George Akume was the governor of Benue State between 1999 to 2007. Akume, a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain was accused of beating EFCC operatives at the office of a former Commissioner for Police and allegedly destroyed documents capable of implicating him in a corruption case.
The petition on Akume’s case at the EFCC was reportedly filed by Abubakar Tsav, a retired police commissioner on July 20, 2006. After several investigations, the state government later asked the court to declare the EFCC as an illegal body.
But on February, Governor Samuel Ortom, challenged the EFCC to revisit the N2 billion case.
“Akume, who was governor for eight years, you would recall, took N2 billion from the state coffers before leaving the office. Up till today, the case is still with EFCC. It’s just that he is in APC so, nobody is concerned about prosecuting him, but he should be prosecuted,” Ortom stated.
“That is why I am saying that EFCC has become a department in APC, otherwise Akume would have gone to jail by now if he were prosecuted.”
Akume, through his former media aide, Mr Abua Yaji, has since debunked the claim, describing it as falsehood.
Godswill Akpabio, former Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is one of Nigeria’s top politicians perceived to be corrupt. Though, this accusation remains a mere allegation until the court decides.
Between 2007 and 2015, the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State was indicted to have stolen N108 billion from the state’s coffers. His loyalists would often call him a cheerful giver for his wasteful spending when he was the governor. Prior to his decamp to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in August 2018, Akpabio has been under investigation by the EFCC.
Three months after he left office, while his successor was yet to resume into the Government House, officers of the Department of State Security in September 2015, stormed the Government House where arms and undeclared millions of dollars were reportedly confiscated.
The former governor and his associate were accused of illegally withdrawing N22.1 billion from the State-owned account 101037588 domiciled with Zenith Bank Nigeria.
The EFCC later wrote to five financial institutions operating the state’s account requesting for its account information. The banks include Zenith Bank, Keystone Bank, First City Monument Bank, Skye Bank (now Polaris), and the United Bank for Africa where it discovered illegal withdrawals.
Also, the EFCC in 2017 seized a school allegedly belonging to Akpabio’s wife, Mrs. Unoma Akpabio. However, the case is still in court.
Until his appointment as a former Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed was the National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). However, his predicament started when he was mentioned in the N2.5 billion Federal Government Digital Switch-Over project. But he claimed he was misled in awarding the contract.
“The former minister’s involvement had come under questioning following the discovery by the ICPC during investigations, that a government White Paper that governs the execution of the DSO programme was allegedly flouted by the head of the NBC,” the ICPC states.
“Mohammed had however admitted in a statement to the commission that he was misled by Kawu, as opined in court by a witness from the ICPC, Osanato Olugbemi. Olugbemi, led in evidence by counsel for the ICPC, Henry Emore, also told the court that the payment of N2.5bn from the NBC to Pinnacle Communications Limited as seed grant was suspicious because only government-owned company was approved to benefit from the grant according to the White Paper.”
The Federal Government project was basically meant to transit the nation from analogue to digital broadcasting. Though Mohammed made the proposed cabinet list, he is still under investigation alongside Ishaq Modibo Kawu, Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for alleged abuse of office and money laundering. He is in fact scheduled to appear before a Federal High Court, Abuja on the 2nd October, to explain why he approved the release of N2.5 billion sum to the private company.
Rotimi Amaechi, former Governor of Rivers State and former PDP member is one of the prominent Nigerian politicians widely perceived as being corrupt. Having left the PDP to allegedly fund the APC while in office as Governor, his eventual emergence as a cabinet member was described as a litmus test for the President Buhari. Tonye Princewill, the former governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) has accused him of “selling” the state property for political gains.
In 2017, while addressing the 106th quarterly meeting of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, his successor, Gov. Nyesom Wike also said there are proofs of fraudulent activities by the former governor stressing that Amaechi allegedly admitted he paid $39 million for a fictitious Justice Karibi Whyte Mega Specialist Hospital.
“The bank statements of the pattern of withdrawals from that account are there for all to see. Can that be forged? The dates and amounts withdrawn are clearly written.”
He was also accused of another N97 billion misappropriation.
But the APC spokesperson at the period, Chris Finebone, justified the sales of government assets, particularly the sale of power stations belonging to the state.
Amaechi was however indicted by Justice George Omeregi-led Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the sale of state assets.
Nigerians in 2015 patiently waited for the president’s decision, until Amaechi’s appointment as transport minister was eventually announced, despite the allegations of corruption.
The Nigerian Journal of Economic and Financial Crimes (NJEFC) report published by the EFCC in 2009 stated that Nigeria has been rendered undeveloped due to massive corruption in the system, especially by political officeholders.
The new appointment of President Buhari may have further confirmed the finding of NJEFC.