From Premium Times.
A CONCLUSIVE investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had absolved former President Olusegun Obasanjo of corruption, according to EFCC’s report obtained by the Premium Times.
This is coming on the heels of fresh controversy between Obasanjo and President Muhammadu Buhari over the money spent on power sector when Obasanjo was the president between 1999 and 2007.
While receiving a delegation of the Buhari Support Organisation at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday, President Buhari said a former president spent $16 billion on power sector without improvement on power supply to Nigerians.
Obasanjo responded immediately by accusing Buhari of ignorance and dared the president to probe him.
Meanwhile, an investigative report by EFCC about a decade ago had cleared Obasanjo of this allegation and other allegations.
After Obasanjo completed his second term in office in 2007, the EFCC investigated him based on two petitions.
The first petition to EFCC against Obasanjo was written by Orji Kalu, former governor of Abia State in 2005 while the second petition came after Obasanjo left office in 2007. The petition was by the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, a nongovernmental organisation headed by Debo Adeniran, a civil society activist.
The two petitions were consolidated into a single 12-point petition which dealt largely on allegations that Obasanjo’s aides and some Senators connived and took huge sums of money in oil and commissions from Defence contracts.
The petition also alleged that the hostels and sports complex at Obasanjo’s Bells Secondary School and University were constructed by Strabag Construction Company with taxpayers’ money, adding that the total assets value of the university – including ongoing constructions at the time – stood at about ₦40 billion.
It also accused the former president of, as the Petroleum Minister between 1999 and 2006, overseeing “a significant number of fraud” in crude oil sales and accrued commissions in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
Other allegations against Obasanjo include the “evidence” that he owned foreign accounts, including a Platinum Credit Card, with which he siphoned money and made purchases abroad; that a “₦6.5 billion proceeds” realised from the appeal fund for the construction of Mr Obasanjo’s Presidential Library were diverted to private use; and that Obasanjo used his presidential powers to approve a licence to Obasanjo Farms, which was in “shambles” while he was in prison, to be sole importer of grant parent stock of chicken.
The petition also included allegations that the federal government under Obasanjo exceeded its spending on Ministries, Departments, and Agencies by about ₦133 billion in the 2005 budget and that ₦521 billion was sunk into the now defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, and yet, Nigeria was in darkness.
The petitioners further alleged that the former president, while still in office, allegedly diverted official funds to buy about 200 million units of Transcorp shares; used state funds to pursue his ‘Third term’ agenda; and spent about ₦300 billion on construction and maintenance of Nigeria’s roads, yet, “there are still no good roads.”
EFCC CLEARED OBASANJO OF ALL THE ALLEGATIONS
The EFCC’S report on the investigation of the allegations was signed by Ibrahim Lamorde, the then EFCC’s director of operations, who was later appointed the Chairman of EFCC.
For example, on the Defence contracts, the EFCC said investigators showed that the Ministry awarded contracts ranging from military equipment to other related hardware valued at about ₦6.7 billion, $28 million, €26 million, DM6 million.
“All documents pertaining to importations, bank statements, payments and supplies made by Ministry of Defence were scrutinised and nowhere did it show that any benefit accrued to any individual or group associated or in any way linked to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo,” stated the report.
On the various contracts awarded by the NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry, the investigators also found that contracts valued at over $300 billion and ₦500, awarded to over 20 different companies, were neither directly nor indirectly linked to Mr Obasanjo.
The report’s findings on the Presidential Library showed that its fundraising launch on May 14, 2007, realised ₦3.5 billion and $250,000. Of that sum, ₦1.3 billion was paid to the project contractor, Messrs Gitto Construction Company of Nigeria, as well as the sub-contractors and the project consultants.
The EFCC stated that between 1999 and 2007, the PHCN received over ₦273.65 billion and not ₦521 billion and that the appropriation was for its day to day activities, including generation of electricity, transmission, and distribution.
The various contracts awarded in relation to electricity generation, according to the report, amounted to ₦22 billion, $445 million, and €29 million.
“All the documents relating to payments have been checked and scrutinised and there was no reference whatsoever to the former president, his relations, or any front benefitted from the contracts.”
The report further stated it could not establish that Mr Obasanjo diverted public funds for the pursuit of his ‘Third term’ agenda even after the Commission “threw public challenges soliciting for evidence from anti-third term forces in the National Assembly.”
“Going by the evidence from the facts assembled during the course of the investigation, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo could not be directly linked with the allegations.”