Ex-minister: Why I didn’t honour EFCC’s invitation -  ₦37.1bn fraud


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has received a formal letter from the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, citing health issues. 

The letter requests an extension of the deadline for meeting with EFCC interrogators regarding an ongoing investigation into the N37,170,855,753.44 that was purportedly laundered during her tenure in office through a contractor named James Okwete. 

Earlier, The PUNCH exclusively revealed that Umar-Farouq could be arrested by EFCC agents after he did not show up for questioning on Wednesday at the EFCC Headquarters.

The EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, responded to the development in an exclusive phone interview with our correspondent on Thursday. 

She stated that Umar had sent a legal representative to the commission and had written to the commission requesting an extension of time to accept the invitation, citing health issues. 

The former humanitarian minister did not come before the commission yesterday, according to Oyewale, but she did send a letter requesting more time and stating that her health prevented her from accepting the summons. She also brought her attorney to the interrogation.

Nevertheless, the commission has ordered her to report to the commission right away. Since we are still tracking down every transaction, we are unable to assign a number to anything at this time because the investigation is still ongoing. 

According to The PUNCH, Umar-Farouq did not respond to the invitation and instead kept questioners waiting for more than eight hours on Wednesday without providing the panel with an official explanation. 

According to a document our correspondent exclusively saw on Saturday, the former minister was asked to appear before investigators at the EFCC Headquarters, Jabbi, Abuja, on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, at around 10:00 am, to give an account of the alleged monumental fraud that occurred under her watch.

On Wednesday, however, our correspondent who was at the EFCC Headquarters from 9 a.m. until roughly 6:30 p.m. verified that Umar-Farouq did not appear for questioning at the anti-graft agency's office. 

In anticipation of Umar Farouq's arrival, our correspondent who was on site at the EFCC Headquarters on Wednesday saw the presence of journalists who showed up at various times. 

When the questioning team realized they would not be getting the former Minister on Wednesday, they had to call it quits at around six o'clock, according to one interrogator who talked with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday night.

She stated, "We just closed from work because she didn't show up today, and since it's already 6 p.m., it's very likely that she won't show up today." Umar-Farouq may be arrested by EFCC agents this week if she refuses to voluntarily come before investigators at the agency's headquarters, as the commission has publicly demanded, according to an impeccable senior anti-graft source. 

"Hajia Sadiya failed to appear for questioning at our (EFCC) office today. She actually caused hours of waiting during interrogations. If she doesn't show up tomorrow, our operatives may arrest her this week and bring her in for questioning, the source disclosed.

The former Minister was invited by the EFCC to respond to inquiries about an ongoing probe into a purported ₦37.1bn fraud discovered in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, as The PUNCH had previously exclusively reported. 

The commission is looking into a case of money laundering involving the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development during your tenure as Minister, according to a portion of the document. 

“In view of the above, you are requested to kindly report for an interview with the undersigned. Scheduled as follows: Wednesday 3rd, January 2024. 10:00 am. This request is made pursuant to section 38 (I) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 & section 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”