Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives have uncovered how N2.8billion meant for the training of ex-Niger Delta militants was diverted.
The money was withdrawn 35 times, alleged orders of a former Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Kingsley Kuku.
The funds were converted to dollars by six bureau de change and disbursed through Kuku’s two aides.
The EFCC has launched a manhunt for Kuku who is believed to be in the United States.
Kuku, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prince Chibudom Nwuche; Nwuche’s group, Foundation For Youth Development(FYD) and two others are under investigation on how the cash was disbursed and the purpose for which it was spent.
But Nwuche has denied any complicit in the matter.
A document obtained by our correspondent shows that the cash, which was meant for contracts was converted to dollars between March 26, 2012 and March 5, 2013.
Although there were conflicting claims on what the cash was spent on, the EFCC is probing clues that the money might have been laundered.
Two former aides of Kuku and six Bureau de Change dealers are under probe.
Some of the curious withdrawals are as follows: 9/10/ 12- $2m withdrawn through Shilon BDC; 21/ 11/ 12—$1.4m from Abdullahi BDC; 26/3/12—$1m paid through DLH BDC Limited to Kuku’s aide, Dr. Andrew Iyamu; 4/5/12 ($500,000); 22/11/12-cash of $1.2m through Gadlam Global Investment; $721,000 cash handed over to Andrew on 5/3/2013 through Skyegate BDC; 17/4/13-cash of $2m through Cannew Nigeria Limited handed over to Kuku’s aide; and 19/4/13- about $758,000 handed over to Andrew by Hand to Hand BDC.
Other withdrawals include22/11/12——$300,000; 11/08/12- cash of $695,000; 11/9/12—$137,908; 20/11/12—$435,000; $500,000 through Nigare BDC;
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “We have interrogated some people, including a former Deputy Speaker, Nwuche. We need to hear from Kuku who has fled under the guise of medical treatment. The disbursement of the funds by the Foundation For Youth Development(FYD) was said to be based on the instructions of Kuku.
“We might be forced to declare the former coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme wanted.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “The N2.8billion was the payment for three contracts to be executed by FYD for the training of ex-militants on some vocational skills abroad. But the jobs were yet to be done.
“The FYD claimed that the ex-Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Kuku, pleaded that the cash be advanced as a loan to meet urgent demands of ex-militants and prevent restiveness in the region.
“But there is no record of the loan in the handover note of Kuku. We are asking FYD and Kuku to explain how such a huge cash was spent.
“The EFCC is determined to recover the N2.8billion public funds. We will get to the root of how this cash was shared out for nothing.”
In a memo to the Joint Committee on Public Procurement and Niger Delta Affairs, the FYD explained its roles in the disbursement of the cash.
“We have provided copious documentary evidence to prove that FYD was, as it now appears, defrauded by Kingsley Kuku and indeed the victim in this scam.
”Perhaps the time has come to put official pressure on all those mentioned to have collected the monies. They seem to think that it is just the pressure from our client, hence the apparent lack of traction from the EFCC to bring them to book.
“We partner as training facilitators to the Office of Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and to this end, we have completed three contracts awarded to us for the training of ex-militant in Tati University College, Malaysia(50); Haiphong Polytechnic College, Vietnam(183) and World Maritime University and Copenhagen Malmo Maritime Academy, Sweden(72).
“We received various requests for loan for the payment of stipends to the ex-militants and their leaders and various stakeholders in support of the government Amnesty Programme and made disbursement to the tune of N2,864,584,979 on the instruction of the Special Adviser to the President, Hon. Kingsley Kuku between 26th of March 2012 and 3rd of May 2013.
“These requests were made by Kuku to the Chairman of FYD, Prince Chibudom Nwuche. The sum was disbursed to some beneficiaries known to Kuku and his intermediary, Dr. Andrew Iyamu who was introduced to us as liaison officer on ex-militants and stakeholders matter. The period of these last disbursements was between the 10th of September 22 and 3rd of May 2013.
“On the 7th of December 2012, we demanded for refund of sum advanced and on the 21st of June 2013, we requested for the liquidation disbursement of the N2,864,584,979.
“Kuku complained of shortfall in budget passed by the National Assembly and promised to refund when supplementary budget is passed.
“We progressed with the screening of the delegates after substitution of training institutions, procured international passports, secured admission letters, made deposit for admission space and accommodation. When screening was being done, we sent another reminder to Kuku on 4th September, 2014. But a mail was received from Amnesty Office through Mr. Lewis Ekiyor to stop issuance of delegates to FYD.”
However, Kuku vehemently denied ever directly or indirectly collecting any money from Nwuche’s firm, wondering why he would ever contemplate doing so when the PAP was properly funded during his tenure as the SA.
He said: “I want to put it on record that the PAP gave contract to Nwuche’s firm, FYD, for the training of our delegates but I did not at any time collect a dime from him or through anybody either as loan or kickback.
“Nwuche is simply trying to blackmail me for the good thing I did for him but I will soon meet him in court so that he can challenge me with the evidence of how I demanded and collected loan from him and his company.”