President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to respond to allegations that he refused to recover N300 billion allegedly hidden in some Nigerian banks after his attention was drawn to the money by Dr. George Uboh and his company, Panic Alert Security System (PASS), engaged by the minister to trace the money.
The president’s query was a follow up to two letters of complaints written against the AGF by Uboh and his company, accusing the minister of frustrating efforts to recover the already identified funds.
In his response, Malami denied the allegation and pledged his commitment to recover all stolen monies in line with the position of the federal government.
He also said that he revoked the mandate he gave to PASS and Uboh to recover the monies because Uboh went beyond the mandate given to him.
The minister in his reply to the president through the Office of the Chief of Staff, Alhaji Abba Kyari, dated 4th April, 2016, said the allegations levelled against him were untrue and baseless.
Uboh had accused Malami of deliberately frustrating his efforts to recover the N300 billion his company, PASS, allegedly traced to some Nigerian banks.
Responding, the minister said: “In demonstration of my firm commitment to the recovery efforts of the government, I gave PASS a letter titled: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN dated 17th February, 2016, introducing PASS to the aforesaid banks/financial institutions.
“The aforesaid letter of engagement dated 9th February, 2016 and the subsequent letter of introduction dated 17th February, 2016 (‘HAGF Letters’) were given to PASS on the firm understanding that PASS had already identified and/or traced specific FGN funds stashed/trapped in the aforementioned banks and that PASS would promptly embark on processes that would lead to actual recoveries and remittances of the traced funds into the designated account of the FGN in line with the proposals submitted, presentations made, and the terms contained in its letter of 9th February, 2016.”
The minister said he had to revoke the authorisation he gave to Uboh when he discovered that he embarked on a window-shopping mission upon receipt of the letter by going beyond his brief, and embarked on subtle threats to all Nigerian banks, some private individuals and entities solely to shop for data and information to execute the brief contrary to the representations he (Uboh) made to him.
Malami said: “In a manner that clearly demonstrated that PASS was merely on a voyage of discovery and window-shopping, PASS, upon receipt of the letters herein mentioned, went to town and unilaterally expanded the scope of its brief far beyond the 13 banks covered by his brief and embarked on subtle threats to all Nigerian banks, some private individuals and entities solely to shop for data and information to execute the brief contrary to the representations made to me.
“His only defence for the ultra vires were the fraudulent, baseless, unsubstantiated and illogical inferences that my letter of introduction dated 17th February, 2016 had endlessly expanded/enlarged the scope of his instructions while in the actual sense, the said letter was expressly issued pursuant to the February 9, 2016’s letter of engagement earlier given to PASS.
“I was inundated with the excesses of Uboh of PASS and later found out that PASS actually wrote several banks (more than 13 banks), private individuals, corporate entities (national and multinationals), government agencies and virtually all FGN ministries soliciting for data, information, official records, remittances (funds and stocks), and records of whereabouts of all forfeited assets not yet disposed off by some of the FGN agencies, amongst other things.
“For the record, the entities, agencies and private individuals written to by PASS in addition to the 13 banks specifically/actually covered by its mandate include but not limited to the following:
- All Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; ii. All Managing Directors of 25 Money Deposit Banks (MDBs) in Nigeria; iii. Managing Director, FSDH Merchant Bank Limited; iv. Managing Director, CitiBank Nigeria Limited; v. Managing Director, FBN Holdings Plc; vi. Managing Director, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON); vii. Immediate Past M.D, AMCON; viii. Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS); ix. Former Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Committee; x. ALGON and some of its past and serving executives; xi. DG/CEO, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC); xii. Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Offences Commission; xiii. Inspector General of Police (IG); xiv. Ag. Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); xv. Managing Director, Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC); xvi. Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); xvii. Ag. Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); xviii. Immediate Past Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji A. Dikko Inde; xxix. Immediate past AGF & Minister of Justice, Mr. Bello Adoke (SAN); xx. Ex-Minister of State for Finance/Minister of Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Usman; xxi. Immediate past Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio; xxii. Mr. Tony Chukwu (who allegedly executed contracts on behalf of NDDC); xxiii. Managing Director, Technip Offshore Nigeria Ltd.; xxiv. Managing Director, Halliburton Energy Services Ltd.
xxv. Managing Director, Intels Nigeria Ltd.; xxvi. Managing Director, TransOcean; xxvii. Managing Director, Marubeni Nigeria Ltd; xxviii. Managing Director, Nobles Drilling Nigeria Ltd.; xxix. Managing Director, Japanese Gas Corporation Nig. Ltd.; xxx. Managing Director, Snamprogetti; xxxi. Managing Director, SIEMEMS; xxxii. Managing Director, Julius Berger Nig. Ltd.; xxxiii. Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria; xxxiv. Accountant General of the Federation; xxxv. Immediate past Executive Secretary, TETFUND, Prof. Sulaiman Bagoro, and other individuals not covered by PASS’ letter of engagement.”
The minister also dismissed as untrue the insinuation that he entered into an “unholy alliance” with the “banking sector mafia” not to cooperate with PASS, and/or that he promised Access Bank that he would call Uboh to soft pedal on the bank.
“I must state that the above allegations are untrue, incorrect, false, a figment of the imagination of the author and a smear campaign by Uboh to tarnish my name. I did not make, never made and will never make any alliance with anyone in and outside of the banking industry to frustrate PASS or any firm from recovering any FGN funds stashed/trapped in the listed banks or any bank or company in Nigeria or elsewhere,” Malami said.
According to the minister, other excesses of Uboh and his company include soliciting and/or requesting bank officials to allow him access to certain encrypted systems in order to enable him extract relevant information to execute the brief without appreciation of the security implications of such a delicate venture on Nigeria’s financial sector and without any prior discussions with and approval from him.
He said Uboh was also going about the execution of the brief in such a manner that would clearly embarrass the federal government, hence his decision to revoke the letter of engagement in order to avert any likelihood of a security breach of high magnitude in the banking sector.