A former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, for allegedly diverting N40bn from the coffers of the NCS. Dikko, it was learnt, had been on the radar of the EFCC for several months but his whereabouts had remained unknown. However, the former Customs boss arrived at the headquarters of the anti-graft agency around 10am on Thursday where he remained until press time.
A detective at the commission, who did not want his name in print, said, “You will recall that we have been looking for Dikko for quite some time. He turned himself in around 10am today (Thursday) and he is being quizzed over two key allegations bordering on criminal conspiracy, diversion of public funds, theft, abuse of office and living above legitimate means.
“There is also a further allegation that he diverted over N40bn from the Customs’ coffers. The funds were drawn from the proceeds of the seven per cent cost of collection and one per cent comprehensive import supervision scheme. “He is being grilled over the source of the funds with which he acquired the mansion valued at over N2bn located at 1, Audu Ogbeh Street, Jabi Abuja.”
The EFCC operatives had on January 8, raided the residence of the ex-Customs boss. Dikko is also being investigated over a N3bn vote spent by the NCS a few days to the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. The said cash, which was allegedly spent on the directive of the Presidency, was regarded as “unjustifiably used” by the Customs’ management.
There are also issues bordering on the alleged diversion of Customs revenues to fund the campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 and 2015. After oil and taxes, the NCS is the third highest revenue generating agency of the Federal Government. Meanwhile, the EFCC has arrested a former governor of Adamawa State, Mr. James Ngilari, for his alleged role in the sharing of N450m in his state during the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
The money was said to be part of the $115m (N23bn) which was allegedly distributed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The EFCC had last week arrested the PDP chairman in Adamawa State, Joel Madaki, over the Diezani fund. The chairman was said to have told investigators that the money was handed over to Ngilari who was the governor at the time. A source at the commission, however, told our correspondent that Ngilari had denied receiving the N450m from Madaki.
The detective said, “Ngilari is being grilled at our Gombe office. He denied authorising his former aides to take custody of the funds. We have obtained a detention order and he will spend the night in custody.” The EFCC also grilled a former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hassan Adamu, for his alleged role in the sharing of the Diezani bribe.
It was learnt that Adamu, who was once Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, arrived at the office of the commission around 9.30 am, and was grilled for several hours before he was allowed to return home. Adamu was abroad when his name appeared as a co-signatory to the collection of the share of Adamawa State. An EFCC source said, “He (Adamu) admitted his involvement at that level but said that the money was taken to the government house in a bullion van by officials of Fidelity Bank.
“The ambassador added that the chief of staff to Ngilari, one Alhaji Hamman, and the accountant to the Adamawa State Government House, Mrs. Aisha Waziri, counted the money and confirmed the figure. The duo became custodians of the funds based on the directive of their boss, the governor.
“He said he left at that point and did not know how the money was shared neither did he personally benefit from it. Adamu promised to appear at the commission whenever he was in the country to explain his role.”