Jonathan, Dieziani in $6.9m "presidential stages" scam

Goodluck Jonathan

Goodluck Jonathan, former President of Nigeria

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

Goodluck Jonathan, former President of Nigeria
Goodluck Jonathan, former President of Nigeria

Details of the financial heist committed under former President Goodluck Jonathan is gradually coming to the open as the probe instituted in the rape of financial resources of Nigeria under his administration by his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari gathers steam.

Documents made available to journalists on Saturday by sources at the presidential villa indicated that one of the scandalous spending now engaging the attention of investigators was the purchase of three mobile stages, costing $6.9 million.

Investigations into the deal implicated Nigeria’s former President, Jonathan, his Chief Security Officer, Gordon Obuah and former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The funds, according to sources, was withdrawn from one of the numerous accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC to buy three 40-feet mobile stages for use by the former President during public events.

But preliminary investigations was said to have revealed that the costs of the stages were not just grossly overstated but that the funds were diverted into the private account of a company owned by Obuah.

Investigators explained that not even big musicians in advanced countries would pay as much as over $2m per stage while process of procurement also did not follow due process as neither the Auditor-General nor the Accountant-General were involved in the entire process.

Documents made available by presidential sources indicated that the suspicious transaction began with a memo from Obuah to Jonathan on October 17, 2011, asking for the purchase of three mobile stages.

Gordon Obua: wired $69 million to his company account
Gordon Obua: wired $69 million to his company account

Obuah had in the memo recalled his earlier discussion with the former President on the security implication of his public appearances and his subsequent directive on the need to procure a secured presidential platform.

The investigators discovered that the former President approved the request on the same day, indicating that he did not seek any financial advice or purchase order reviews.

The former President had in the memo asked the then Minister for Petroleum Resources to fund the purchase of the three stages.

Following Jonathan’s memo, documents made available to journalists revealed that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administrative Matters, Matt Aikhionbere, had on the same day written another letter requesting the minister to take action on the request to purchase the stages for $6.9m.

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NNPC, according to investigators, made the funds available a few weeks after, through a payment voucher, number 3840336.

The Corporation directed that the funds be sourced from one of its accounts in New York Citibank with sort code CITIUS 33, and Routing number 021000089.

The investigators said they discovered that the funds were first routed from the US bank to a NNPC account in Zenith Bank, with account number 5000026593, Maitama branch in Abuja, from where the money was wired to a private account.

Diezani Alison-Madueke: approved the money for the phony stages
Diezani Alison-Madueke: approved the money for the phony stages

The $6.9million was promptly paid on November 29, 2011 into a private account belonging to former CSO, Obuah.

“The sum of $6.9m was then credited to a Sterling Bank account of one J. Marine Logistics Limited, Abuja,” a company the investigators said belonged to Obuah.

The investigators said the CSO has not been able to show proof of the purchase of the stages while his bosses at the SSS also complained that he overreached his power in making the request.

The procedure, as indicated in the investigation documents was that the CSO would have informed the service, which will then review the request and take the necessary actions.

The investigators added that apart from the clear case of embezzlement, multiple infractions of the law were also committed in the award of the contract by Jonathan.

“The former President approved the procurement of the mobile platforms without due process and bypassing the Procurement Act, neither was there an appropriation in the 2011 budget for such facility,” the document quoted investigators as saying.

The investigators also added that neither the then Minister of Finance nor the Director-General of the Budget Office was aware of the deal.

They also noted the $6.9 million phony deal is just one of the several instances, in which the Jonathan government used secret NNPC accounts to fund phony projects intended to benefit cronies of the administration.

“Already, the CSO has been questioned over his role and activities in the Jonathan Presidency,” the investigators noted in the document.