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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Former minister Sadiya Umar-Farouq summoned by EFCC over alleged N37.1bn laundering

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission probes ex-Minister Umar-Farouq over funds allegedly laundered through contractor James Okwete.

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In a new twist to corruption investigations, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has summoned the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, over an alleged N37,170,855,753.44 laundering scheme. The probe revolves around funds purportedly misappropriated during her tenure and funneled through contractor James Okwete.

The EFCC’s exclusive document, seen by our correspondent, outlines the allegations against Umar-Farouq and requests her presence at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja on January 3, 2024. The former minister faces questioning regarding the money laundering case under investigation.

Despite the invitation, attempts to reach Umar-Farouq for comments were unsuccessful, as her phone was switched off. The former minister’s media aide, Nneka Ikem, was dismissive of the allegations during a brief exchange.

Umar-Farouq had previously distanced herself from contractor James Okwete, stating on her Twitter handle that she had no knowledge of him. However, the EFCC’s ongoing investigation suggests a connection between the former minister and Okwete.

The spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, declined to comment on the summons, while sources within the commission hinted that Okwete’s cooperation had yielded information that could implicate Umar-Farouq and other officials.

The investigation coincides with probes into three other former ministers, accused of corruption amounting to N150bn during their tenures. The EFCC is intensifying efforts to unravel financial misappropriations and potential arrests of Umar-Farouq and former directors-general linked to the ministry.

Documents obtained by Sunday PUNCH revealed that Okwete, the contractor, played a key role in the alleged money laundering, transferring funds to multiple bank accounts and engaging in transactions that included purchasing luxury cars and properties.

The former Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development is under scrutiny as Umar-Farouq, the pioneer minister, faces allegations of financial misconduct. The EFCC aims to assess the impact of the alleged misappropriations, focusing on job creation and other economic activities influenced by the disbursed funds.

As investigations unfold, the EFCC seeks to ensure accountability and transparency in government transactions, especially in ministries designed to address humanitarian and social development challenges in Nigeria.

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