March 5, 2009

EFCC arrests ex-gov Agagu over N25bn fraud

Barely a week after he was thrown out as governor of Ondo State by Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, is back again in the news, as he was nabbed by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday. He was picked up at about 8:00am in Abuja.

As at press time, he was still being held at EFCC facilities in the nation’s capital.

According to Daily Sun investigation, the deposed governor who was at the helm of affairs in the south-west state for nearly six years and some of his commissioners were being investigated by the anti-graft agency for allegedly misappropriating a princely sum of N25 billion belonging to the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC) when the operatives got information that Agagu was planning to escape from Nigeria to Austrialia via London where some of his aides were said to be waiting to assist him with relocation.

“Agagu and some of his commissioners had been under the EFCC scrutiny over allegations that he misappropriated N25 billion naira belonging to OSOPADEC. Then, the operatives got wind of plans by Agagu to flee the country tomorrow (today) and then, promptly nabbed him,” a source said.
He is said to be co-operating with the EFCC officials.
When contacted on phone, EFCC spokesman, Mr. Femi Babafemi confirmed Agagu’s arrest, but declined further comments.

An observer told Daily Sun shortly after the news of the arrest broke out that it did not come as a surprise. According to the source, but for the “bogus immunity cover which he has been enjoying, he should have been in jail long before now.”
Meanwhile, apart from the N25billion OSOPADEC fund, Agagu, former minister for power and steel under president Olusegun Obasanjo, according to sources close to EFCC, is also being investigated over several other cases bordering on corruption.

For instance, Agagu had earlier been indicted by the House Committee of on Power which investigated how $16billion was sunk into electricity power project without concrete result during his tenure as Obasanjo’s minister of power and steel.
When Agagu appeared before the House panel, he said the $16bn that the House had claimed was spent was no big deal.
It was, however, gathered that the EFCC, which had earlier interrogated Agagu while he was still governor, was not satisfied with his testimony as he was said to have answered only the questions that he liked and parried others.

Also, the EFCC had a cause to stop N14 billion cheques issued in respect of some contracts allegedly awarded hurriedly in the dying days of his occupation of Ondo State Government House.
The government was alleged to have awarded a contract to SCC Nigeria Limited for Owena Water Transmission Project for about N14.4bn.
According to the commission, out of the total amount, the Ondo State Ministry of Works paid N3.8bn as mobilisation fees to the contractor.

Similarly, the anti-graft agency had on Wednesday January 14, 2009 raised the alarm on the plan of the Agagu administration to spend about N8bn from the state’s treasury through the award of contracts.
Earlier in 2007, Governor Agagu’s Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning, Chief Tayo Alasoadura was invited by the EFCC for interrogation over N4 billion placed on fixed deposit account at the moribund Gulf Bank. The money was trapped at the bank while the interest of the money was claimed to have been collected by the former governor.

EFCC also invited the commissioner early last year over illegal deduction from all the 18 local government councils in the state since the assumption of office in 2003 amounting to N18billion. The anti graft commission also invited Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and other key officers of the ministry for questioning.
The commission and its sister anti-graft agency, ICPC also invited the Commissioner for Finance in 2007 over illegal diversion of fund meant to execute projects at the riverine areas of the state by OSOPADEC.

The commission’s chairman, Adewale Omojua was also invited to Lagos office of EFCC for interrogations
The EFCC also invited the state Accountant-General Mrs Funke Ogundojutimi over cars loans and other fictitious allowances approved by Agagu for all his Special Assistants, Personal Assistants and other aides running to several million of naria shortly after the state election Petitions tribunal led by Justice Garba Nabaruma nullified Agagu election. The commission eventually stopped the payment.

Also, the EFCC arrested the contractor and some bank chiefs in the state over N14 billion Owena project hurriedly awarded by Agagu government in November last year for which he paid 56 percent to the contractor as mobilization fee. The EFCC invited Agagu’s Commissioner for Works, Olaitan Ayeni and other key officers of ministries of works and finance. The EFCC was able to stop the payment through a stay-of-execution order obtained from a Federal High Court in Abuja.

Shortly after he was declared Governor of Ondo State by the Appeal Court, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko had told the world that he was going to probe the six-year government of Agagu, even as ordered the freezing of the accounts of the State.

No comments: