The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to arraign a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, for allegedly receiving N100m from the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation during the 2015 General Elections.
The N100m, which was given to Falae on the instruction of a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, was said to have emanated from the imprest account of the Office of the National Security Adviser in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
A document sighted by our correspondent indicated that the commission would charge the ex-SGF and one-time Minister of Finance with conspiracy to indirectly retain the sum of N100m “which he ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3) and 4 of the same Act.”
Falae had, in a statement in February, admitted collecting the N100m, but said he did not know that the money emanated from the account of ONSA.
A detective at the anti-graft agency told The Punch that 78-year-old Falae had been frequenting the EFCC office in Lagos in the last couple of weeks.
“Chief Falae has been reporting to our office every week to answer questions on the N100m he received from the Jonathan campaign organisation. We have told him to refund the money.
“But he said he received the money through Anenih and it was meant for campaign. However, investigations revealed that he deposited N60m into SDP’s account while he kept N40m.
“We told him that he should return the N40m, but he has not been forthcoming. We have no other option but to charge him to court.”
The EFCC had alleged in March that about N3.145bn was mysteriously transferred from the account of ONSA to the account of the Joint Trust Dimensions Limited, a company allegedly owned by the Director of Finance, Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Senator Nenadi Usman.
Usman was said to have transferred N840m to the account of the Director of Publicity of the organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, in Zenith Bank, Maitama branch, with account number, 1004735721, on February 19, 2015.
Falae, who is the National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, allegedly received N100m through a company, Marreco Limited, where he is chairman. The fund was credited into the company’s United Bank for Africa Plc account, 1000627022, on March 25, 2014.
According to the document, N320m was also paid into the bank account of the Goodluck Support Group, an association which played a major role in Jonathan’s campaign.
A former Governor of Imo State, Achike Udenwa, and a former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuliri, also got N350m in two tranches. The first tranche of N150m was paid into their joint account with Zenith Bank on January 13, 2015. The second tranche of N200m was credited into their account with Diamond Bank.
Usman and Fani-Kayode had been arraigned before the Federal High Court in Lagos and their accounts frozen, while Udenwa is expected to be arraigned this week.
The source at the EFCC told our correspondent that since all the others were facing prosecution, it would only be fair for Falae to be charged.
‘He was detained for hours without food’
A spokesman for Falae, Mr. Alfa Mohammed, said any attempt to prosecute Falae would be nothing but a witch-hunt.
Mohammed, who spoke on the telephone, said Falae had been ill for some time because of the stress of shuttling between Lagos and Ondo due to the EFCC investigation.
He said the former presidential candidate was usually grilled for eight hours without food or water.
He said Falae never used part of the money for his personal benefit, adding that the money was used by the SDP to campaign for Jonathan.
He said, “The PDP wanted us to render a service and they gave us money, which we did by adopting and working for Jonathan. So, what is our business with arms deal?
“We never had contact with Dasuki. If you are given money to cook food for guests at a ceremony and after everyone has eaten, you are informed that the money given to you was stolen from CBN, would you tell all the guests to pay you?
“This is nothing but harassment. They want to distract us from the coming Ondo election which we are set to win. The SDP still owes Chief Falae N70m because we asked him to borrow N170m in anticipation that the PDP would pay, but the party gave us only N100m.
“The N100m came about three days to the election and chief had been spending money before then. He has fallen ill because of the intense interrogation in the EFCC office. The operatives usually grill him for eight hours without food or water. If they are probing party funds, let them start from the APC.”