By our Reporters
In what appears to be an unfolding subtle probe into the tenure of former finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, business a.m. has been told by reliable sources close to the development, that she was forced back to the country two weekends ago to respond to some untoward issues pertaining to her time as head of the exchequer.
Sources told business a.m. that Adeosun had long been invited for questioning over a number of allegations but that she had not shown an enthusiasm to respond until a threat was issued, which forced her to quickly fly into the country between Friday 1 and Sunday 3 February, 2019.
She is said to have then spent two days answering questions put to her by operatives of the Ibrahim Magu-led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as well as the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP), chaired by Okoi Obono-Obla.
“They basically confronted her with documents regarding some activities that she had been involved in while she was minister of finance,” said someone close to the situation but did not want to be named since the matter was still developing.
While nobody was willing to put their hand on the button regarding the specifics, a number of issues, business a.m. learnt, had been pending, including those related to the disbursement and distribution of Paris Club funds to states, which she supervised.
Federal investigators are seeking to find out the extent of her involvement in the allegation contained in the documentary evidence she was confronted with.
The focus on Adeosun is making some observers to say that the President Mohammadu Buhari’s anti graft war appears to have begun a gradual inwards turn to members of his political party and high ranking government officials like the immediate past finance minister.
There were unconfirmed talks at the weekend about an agreement to refund some money, following the encounter with anti-graft agency officials, but this is being handled in the lowest of tunes as it is still hush, hush at the moment.
Adeosun, who was in office as minister of finance between November 2015 and July 2018, was allegedly detained for two days by federal investigators and was released after she swore to an undertaking.
business a.m. learnt that the former minister was asked questions about activities she undertook as minister, some of which involved her personally and some involving her husband. Her husband, a businessman, was later one of her consultants at the ministry of finance.
Adeosun is believed to have been nominated for the ministerial job by Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, a close ally of the president.
The latest development brings to three the thorny cases Adeosun has had to deal with. The former minister was forced out of office following a case involving the forgery of an NYSC exemption certificate, which was discovered to have been allegedly procured for her before she started work at ChapelHill Denham Chapel, founded by Bolaji Balogun.
She was also given soft landing at Dunham Chapel by management who asked her to resign after she was accused of anti-company activities.
Now with the latest discovery by a combined team of investigators from the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), and the Presidentual Panel on recovery of government assets, Adeosun, who was lauded for setting the Efficiency Unit in the ministry of finance and other ministries, has found herself being called out once again.
The questioning and Adeosun’s confrontation with documentary evidence, which she allegedly could not controvert, appear to have their origin in the time when controversies trailed the distribution of the refund of the Paris Club debt to state governments.
The chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and governor of Zamfara state, Abdulahi Yari, had at the time raised the dust, accusing officials of the ministry of conniving with consultants to collect keedbacks from the state governments on the Paris Club refund.
business a.m. learnt that investigators from the EFCC and the Presidential panel latched on the allegations by the Nigerian Governors Forum and started discreet investigation at the finance ministry while Adeosun was still in government.
After months of investigations, Adeosun was allegedly indicted with two of her cohorts fingered as accomplices. Allegations being raised included that there had been a series of untoward practices, involving kickbacks from state government on the Paris Club refund, kickbacks from local contractors on payment of some domestic debts and also kickbacks from some of the consultants appointed to handle the Voluntary Assets Declaration (VAIDS).
Investigators discovered that one of the consultants, an advertising agency allegedly inflated the contract sum from which kickback running into tens of millions was paid.
Adeosun who was first summoned by the federal investigators in December could not appear immediately for fear of detention. Sources said lobbyists were then raised to soften the ground for her appearance. She appeared penultimate weekend and was grilled for two days, during which she was shown several documents relating to infractions under her watch.
Sources at the EFCC who confided in our investigative group said the documentary evidence was overwhelming and so could not be denied.
We understand that the quiet handling of the situation is not unconnected with the approaching elections. But it raises questions about corruption and graft circling the presidency.