A new twist of forgery has emerged in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s investigation of a former Akwa Ibom State military administrator, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd), over allegation of collecting his state’s share of N450million from the N23.29billion disbursed by the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, ahead of last year’s presidential election.
The former minister was alleged to have deposited $115 million (about N23.29 billion) into Fidelity Bank, through which she disbursed the money to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), some individuals and interest groups in the wake of the presidential election.
EFCC has been investigating the presidential election fund from the former minister, which was alleged to have been largely funded up to the tune of $88.35million by some oils barons, and had made some arrests in connection with it.
Air Commodore Nkanga, who ruled Akwa Ibom between 1990 and 1992, was arrested by EFCC Monday last week and taken to the Port Harcourt zonal office of the anti-graft commission, where he maintained his innocence of the scam, insisting insisted that he neither received nor shared the N450 million recorded against his name.
Nkanga, who is a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, was alleged to have collected the money in two tranches from an official of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, branch of Fidelity Bank, which disbursed the fund on behalf the embattled Mrs Allison-Madueke, one Saint-Anthony Ejiowu.
The Nigerian Tribune gathered on Wednesday in Abuja that EFCC operatives were not turning a blind eye to the probability of forgery in the case, as a source stated that operatives were now looking at the claim that some powerful officials in the state might have forged Nkanga’s signature as the State Coordinator of Subsidy Reinvestments Programmes (SURE-P) of the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration to collect the money without his knowledge.
The source further informed that during their separate interrogations, some officials of Fidelity Bank told EFCC that the N450 million in question was delivered to the Government House, Uyo, in a bullion van on the order of an aide to the governor.
The inside source revealed that in the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Nkanga’s SURE-P identification card was used as a receipt to collect the money.
According to the source, “We want to know the actual person who received the first tranche of the N350 million on March 27, 2015 and the second tranche of N100 million on March 31, 2015.”
The source disclosed that there were questions begging to be answered in view of the new twist to the investigation, saying that operatives are now trying to establish if the signature used in the acknowledgements of receipt of the said N450million on the two occasions it was delivered was indeed taken from Nkanga’s SURE-P ID card.
Also, according to the source, operatives would want to know if the bank official actually delivered the amount as claimed, who collected the money at the Government House, Uyo, and equally see if there was a nexus among the bank, Government House and the SURE-P office in Uyo.
Meanwhile, the former military governor did not appear at the Port Harcourt zonal office on Monday, May 16, 2016 as earlier scheduled as the Nigerian Tribune learnt that he was asked to hold on till next week before coming.
This, it was gathered, might not be unconnected with the commission’s swift move to tackle the new dimension in the investigation so as to establish if indeed the former military governor’s signature was forged to collect the money and who collected it.
When the Nigerian Tribune contacted EFCC’s Head, Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, he said he would have to confirm the report but further attempts to reach him proved abortive.