The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arrested Mr. Azibaola Robert, a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan over a $40m pipeline contract awarded by the Office of the National Security Adviser under the leadership of retired colonel Sambo Dasuki.
Robert, who is the Managing Director of Katakar Civil Engineering Company, was arrested alongside an Executive Director in the company, Mr. Dakoru Atukpa. The former however described his arrest as a witch-hunt, insisting that the contract was transparent.
The Punch learnt that the arrest of Robert and Atukpa was sequel to a list sent to the EFCC by a committee set up by the Federal Government to probe contracts awarded by the ONSA from 2011 to 2015, which indicted more than 300 companies and prominent citizens, including serving and retired officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The report has it that the EFCC, on March 23, 2016, arrested Robert and Atukpa on the allegation of diversion of $40m public funds through Oneplus Holdings, a sister company of Kakatar Construction and Engineering Company Limited.
Oneplus Holdings is among the 300 firms under investigation by the Federal Government.
The spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, told the newspaper that the arrest was not a witch-hunt, alleging that the suspects received $40m from the ONSA for a dubious contract to supply “tactical equipment”.
According to him, “This is not a witch-hunt. He (Robert) is not Jonathan’s only cousin. The truth of the matter is that they are being held for a $40m contract he received from the ONSA. The mandate for the payment read, ‘Purchase of Tactical Equipment for Special Forces’.
“Two days after their arrest, they were offered bail. The condition was that the sureties must be on the level of civil service directors and a N250m bank guarantee. They must also have landed properties in Abuja and provide tax evidence of two years. But they could not meet up.
“So, the EFCC went to court for a remand order. They are being held pending the conclusion of investigation.”
However, the suspects, who spoke through their lawyer, Gordy Uche SAN alleged that the real target was Jonathan, insisting that the contract was transparent.
Noting that the Federal Government still owed his clients $4m as the balance of the contract sum for successfully securing oil pipelines, he requested the commission to either charge his clients to court or release them on bail.
Uche added, “My client is being persecuted and punished because of his DNA, as a relative of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
“We have a civil dispute and then you turn round to lock up the party with whom you have a dispute.
“Then, you went ahead to give him impossible bail conditions: Two serving federal directors, each with properties in Maitama or Asokoro and original of their Certificates of Occupancy. The four directors are also required to present bail bonds of N250m each from reputable banks. Robert and Atukpa are also required to deposit their passports.”