The federal government recently launched a whistle blowing programme that will help them monitor and keep track of individuals or groups of persons in possession of government funds.
To achieve this, the whistle-blowing scheme focused on finding and encouraging anyone who has information to step forward and help them.
Keeping with the terms and conditions of being a whistle-blower for the government, an account with N8.4 billion has been found. The discovered bank account has no signatories making it more suspicious. The account has however been traced to a bank which is perceived to be used by money launderers.
Following the discovery of the account, there was a speculation that the cash might have been wired to some foreign accounts thus; the government filed some ex-parte motion to place it under temporary assets forfeiture. A telecommunications company was said to have claimed ownership of the money in court.
Some strange deposits were purported to have been made by some suspected government officials; of the numerous deposits made, about N8.4 billion was picked for the investigation. According to the information gathered from a source, “A whistle-blower alerted the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, leading to the involvement of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC) in the investigation.
The probe of the account by detectives showed that the funds were routed through the account of a telecoms giant but there was no disclosure of the signatories to the account.
“Also, the list of depositors into the account was unknown but the sequence of deposits was tracked by detectives”
The source also revealed that an ex -parte application had been filed at the Federal High Court 11 in Lagos, this case will be presided over by Justice Abdulazeez Anka. The aim is to recover the cash under temporary forfeiture. The case will be reopened for gearing on March 3.
Mr. John Samuel Opeyemi and Mr. Oluwafemi O. Aweda are the two lawyers hired by the Federal Government to help recover the funds.
While the investigation is still on, another source revealed that there are speculations that the cash paid into the account could very well be over N10 billion.
The source said “Detectives stumbled on separate deposit of N5billion and N4billion. But investigation is at present concentrated on the recovery of N8.4billion, which was changed to dollars and probably wired into some accounts abroad.
“A telecommunications giant has approached the court to claim the ownership of the cash.
We have been demanding for the list of signatories to this account but it is yet to be provided.”
There is no doubt the whistle-blowing scheme is yielding results with the success recorded so far. Lai Mohammed, the minister of information said the whistle-blower policy had started yielding fruits, with the recovery of US$151 million and N8billion. He talked extensively about how far the scheme had gone.
“The looted funds, which do not include the $9.2 million in cash allegedly owned by a former Group Managing Director of the NNPC (which was also a dividend of the whistle-blower policy), were recovered from just three sources through whistle-blowers who gave actionable information to the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.
“The biggest amount of $136,676,600.51 was recovered from an account in a commercial bank, where the money was kept under an apparently fake account name, followed by N7billion and $15million from another person and N1billion from yet another.
‘’When we told Nigerians that there was a primitive and mindless looting of the national treasury under the last administration, some people called us liars.
“Well, the whistle-blower policy is barely two months old and Nigerians have started feeling its impact, seeing how a few people squirrelled away public funds.
“It is doubtful if any economy in the world will not feel the impact of such mind-boggling looting of the treasury as was experienced in Nigeria.
’Yet whatever has been recovered so far, including the $9.8million by the EFCC, is just a tip of the iceberg” he said.
The whistle-blowing programme covers different aspects of the economy and encourages people to give the government a number of useful tips on misappropriation of public funds and asset, collection of bribes, diversion of funds and so on.
The sole aim of the programme which is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Finance is to sweep the nation clean of all forms of corruption.
Note that a whistle-blower is entitled to about 5 to 10 percent of the recovered money. There is adequate protection for people who help the government recover stolen funds.