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N37bn Fraud: Umar-Farouq writes EFCC, explains reason for missing invite

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N37.1bn Fraud: Former minister, Umar-Farouq appears before EFCC

Former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, has written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, requesting an extension of the deadline to meet with EFCC interrogators over an ongoing investigation into the N37,170,855,753.44 allegedly laundered during her tenure in office through a contractor, James Okwete.

In a phone interview with newsmen on Thursday, EFCC spokesperson Dele Oyewale said Umar-Farouq had sent a legal representative to the commission and had written to the commission requesting more time to honor the invitation, citing health challenges.

Oyewale said, “The former Humanitarian Minister didn’t appear before the commission yesterday, but she sent in a letter pleading for more time and also explaining that she has some health challenges, and that was why she couldn’t honor the invitation. She also sent in her lawyer to meet with interrogators.

“However, the commission has mandated her to submit herself to the commission without further delay. We are still tracing all the transactions; hence, we cannot put a figure on everything now as the investigation is still ongoing.”

Chronicle NG had reported that Umar-Farouq kept interrogators waiting for over eight hours on Wednesday without an official communication to the commission as to why she didn’t honor the invitation.

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Umar-Farouq was summoned to appear before investigators at the EFCC Headquarters in Jabbi, Abuja, on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, at around 10:00 a.m., to give an account of the alleged massive fraud that occurred under her watch, according to a document obtained exclusively by our correspondent on Saturday.

An interrogator who spoke with newsmen on the condition of anonymity Wednesday evening stated that the questioning team had to leave work about 6 p.m. when it became clear that the former Minister would not appear.

“We just closed from work now because she didn’t show up today, and it’s already 6 p.m.; it’s certain that she’s never going to show up today,” she said.

Meanwhile, a senior anti-graft source revealed that Umar-Farouq might be arrested by EFCC agents within the week if she fails to voluntarily appear before investigators at the EFCC’s headquarters, as the agency has publicly demanded.

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“Hajia Sadiya didn’t show up at our (EFCC) office today for interrogation. In fact, she kept interrogatories waiting for hours. Meanwhile, our operatives may arrest her this week and bring her in for questioning if she fails to show up tomorrow,” the source revealed.

Chronicle NG had earlier reported that the EFCC invited the former Minister to come to answer questions concerning an ongoing investigation into an alleged $37.1 billion fraud uncovered in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

The document partly read, “The commission is investigating a case of money laundering involving the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development during your time as Minister.

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

“This request is made pursuant to Section 38(I) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 and Section 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”

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The ex-minister could not be reached for comments on Wednesday. Also, when contacted, Umar-Farouk’s former media aide, Nnaka Ikem, did not respond to phone calls or text messages from reporters at the time of filing this report.

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