The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it was awaiting a presidential order to auction off the jewelry seized from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, valued at around 14.46 billion naira and homes estimated at $ 80 million.
EFCC Chairman AbdulRasheed Bawa made this known on Friday in Abuja when he appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the valuation and status of all recovered loot, movable and immovable property. from 2002 to 2020 by Nigerian Federal Government agencies for efficient and effective management and use.
Committee members and the public on site were shocked by the revelation.
Bawa, however, said the “estimated value” of the confiscated jewelry had not been determined by the EFCC, adding that the homes ultimately confiscated by the ex-minister were valued at around $ 80 million.
The committee therefore decided to inspect the seized items to assess their current condition, especially homes, which lawmakers feared had lost value due to their abandoned state.
The committee had previously grilled Bawa behind closed doors over withdrawals from the account of assets recovered for security purposes.
Representative member Adejoro Adeogun also asked about Diezani jewelry, saying, “Are they still in your custody or have they been turned into cash?”
Bawa said, “No, they are in our custody. They have not yet been auctioned. They were eventually confiscated, along with houses, vehicles, etc., and the commission is anxiously awaiting the presidential committee to auction all of these items and deposit the money appropriately. We received it (final confiscation order) in 2019. ”
The chairman of the committee, however, denounced the fact that the assets seized were depreciating and becoming a loss for the country. He asked, “Considering Nigeria’s financial situation, shouldn’t we be auctioning these things off quickly and using the money?”
The EFCC President noted that many processes were involved and due to “some things that happened”. He said that now that the federal government had established an asset recovery committee, the seized property would soon be auctioned.
Adeogun asked, “Members want to know the total value of jewelry. It’s on paper (presented to Bawa); can you please read it? Is it the value of a person’s jewelry? “
Bawa said, “This is the estimated value we have. The estimated value in naira was given to 14,460,000,000 naira. “
Adeogun asked, “Is it for houses, cars or jewelry?”
Several panel members and the public expressed shock when the EFCC boss said the amount was only for jewelry. The President remarked, “Why are you acting like you’re afraid?”
A committee member also asked about the home values, which Bawa said was “around $ 80 million.”
Previously, Adeogun asked Bawa how the EFCC treats corruption suspects who opt for plea negotiations during their trial.
Bawa noted that the Administration of Criminal Justice Law contains certain provisions for plea bargaining, while the EFCC also has guidelines on negotiation. While stating that the commission does not initiate plea bargaining, he said defense lawyers usually contact the anti-corruption agency to ask for a soft landing for their clients.
“Ours is to identify who committed a crime, how the crime was committed and what crime was committed. At the end of all this, we charge (the suspect) to the court to go and present our case, ”he noted.
The boss of the EFCC, however, explained that when asked for a plea bargain, the commission has the criteria it follows.
Meanwhile, Adeogun announced that Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele is due to appear before the committee next week. He said, however, that the investigative hearing was over, while lawmakers would still be in consultation with government officials to conclude their investigation.
The committee had at the appearance of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; and the Federation’s accountant general, Ahmed Idris, on Thursday asked Emefiele to appear before him to explain some of the issues relating to the account of the assets recovered and the alleged illegal withdrawals by them.