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N20 Billion recovered by Ribadu from Tafa Balogun still missing

Source: pointblanknews.com
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Nuhu Ribadu
The N20 Billion recovered from former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Tafa Balogun, under the watch of former boss of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, has vanished into thin air.

On Wednesday the House Committee on Police Affairs said it had looked everywhere: Accountant General's office, Central bank Of Nigeria (CBN), Police Affairs Accounts, the EFCC, no trace, and therefore called for a full scale investigation.

The issue surfaced again during the introduction of a Bill crafted to improve the police in terms of training, equipment and welfare. The members who lamented the poor funding of the police queried the disappearance of the whooping sum while Ribadu, the Action congress of Nigeria (ACN) presidential candidate held sway.

EFCC spokesman, Mr. Femi Babafemi, said, “Nobody knows the exact properties recovered from Balogun. The Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, raised this issue when she assumed office.

According to him “what is in government coffers can't be more than N6 Billion, the rest only him can explain.”

“Till date, we don't know the exact number of properties seized from the former IGP because there is no record for forfeited assets. We don't know how many properties were sold, who sold what and how much was recovered from the sale. The commission has just set up an asset forfeiture unit for proper documentation. The few ones we know of are controversial because some people are claiming they bid for the properties but did not get them. A particular man even threatened to take the EFCC to court. He claimed that after he bid for one of Balogun's houses in Abuja, a lower bidder was given the property” he said

Former IG, Mr. Mike Okiro, sometime ago, in his reply to the House of Representatives inquiry into the missing money confiscated from Balogun after he was convicted for corruption, had said that only the EFCC is in the best position to state the actual amount.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Police Affairs, Mr. Abdul Ningi, had on two occasions asked the IG to furnish the House with the details of the issue.

Ningi had in the two separate letters with reference numbers NASS/HR/CT-58/VOL.11/10 dated November 6, 2008 and NASS/HR/CT-58/VOL.11/23 dated February 3, 2009, asked that the House be supplied with "the amount of money recovered and the whereabouts of the money. "The number of property recovered and the whereabouts of the property."

On receiving the letters, Okiro, in a letter dated February 11, 2009 with reference number CB:3380/IGP.SEC/ABJ/VOL.1/48, wrote the EFCC chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri, asking that he be forwarded with the House request.

Okiro wrote, "I wish to refer to letter No. NASS/HR/CT-58/VOL.11/23 dated February 3, 2009 (copy attached) on the above underline subject and request you to forward details of the amount and the whereabouts of the money recovered from the former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun, by your commission.

"While anticipating your early response to enable further action with the House Committee on Police Affairs, please accept the warm assurances of my high consideration."

The case of the missing money surfaced Wednesday at the plenary during the debate for a bill for an act to establish the Nigeria Police Reform Fund, and for matters connected therewith, 2010.

Sponsored by the executive, the Bill was introduced by the House Leader, Tunde Akogun, who urged members to support it for second reading in view of the fact that the fund would help in improving the police in terms of training, equipment and welfare. But contributing to the debate, Mr. Halims Agoda (PDP Delta state) queried the disappearance of the N20 billion recovered from the ex-police boss, arguing that the recovery of the stolen fund should be concluded first.

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“While we are all concerned about the paucity of funding for the Nigerian Police Force, in spite of rising insecurity, we must, as a House, bear in mind that the N20 billion recovered from former inspector general of police by the EFCC, just disappeared into nowhere.

“Our Committee (Police Affairs) has looked for it everywhere. We have gone to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), but the money is not there, we went to the Accountant General's Office, the money is nowhere; we went to the Police Accounts, and nothing was there. The money has just disappeared.

“So the EFCC and the police must produce this money, because it belongs to the police and must be returned to the police. Mr. Speaker, my dear colleagues, we cannot afford to have the money go like that. It is the responsibility of this House that that money is recovered and sent back to the Police Account.” Agoda reminded the House that funds earlier raised by past administrations were used without the approval of the National Assembly.

“It can be recalled that past efforts were made to set up a fund for the police, but the past administration wasted the funds.” Speaker Bankole interjected by asking the Chairmen of Committees on Police and EFCC- “Where's the money, where's the money?” At the end of the submission by Agoda, they resolved to direct the Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate where the money recovered from Mr. Tafa Balogun was kept.

The issue of missing money recovered by the EFCC was first brought to the attention of the House last year by Mr. Abdul Ningi through a motion on “recovery of money and proceeds from sales of confiscated property from corrupt public officers by the EFCC.”

Ningi's motion sailed through and the House mandated Mr. West Ehioge Idahosa to “thoroughly investigate the matter pursuant to Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution and report back to the House.”

Idahosa was yet to report back to the House as at yesterday when the matter was raised again.