The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Friday raided the National Aviation Management Agency offices in Lagos over N5bn fraud relating to the Treasury Single Account and wide spread sleaze in the aviation industry.
The operatives, who swooped on the corporate headquarters and annex of NAMA, arrived at about 11.55am, blocked roads leading to the agency, prevented people from leaving the premises and took into custody NAMA’s Managing Director, Ibrahim Abdulsalam; General Manager, Procurement, Olumuyiwa Adegorite, and General Manager, Finance, Nurudeen Segun Agbolade.
The trio were said to have undergone rigorous interrogation before being taken away by men of the anti- graft agency at about 9pm yesterday.
On arrival, the EFCC men moved to the account and procurement units to check the books, creating tension and anxiety among officials and staff of NAMA.
There were speculations that EFCC’s visit might not be unconnected with petitions written by some aviation unions over alleged misapplication of funds.
But an inside source at the Agency told Saturday PUNCH that the EFCC officials sought explanation into some questionable contracts that had been awarded to some companies without following due process.
The quizzed officials are said to play critical roles in sustaining the agency in terms of disbursement of funds, provision and acquisition of safety-related equipment and the general running of the parastatal.
The source added that the managing director, Abdulsalam, was about holding a meeting with the Human Resources Department when officials of the EFCC arrived.
Saturday PUNCH also learnt that as part of the investigations, a former managing director of NAMA is already reporting to the EFCC to answer to allegations bordering on contracts for total radar coverage of Nigeria, otherwise known as TRACON and other multi-billion naira contracts.
It will be recalled that in 2008, a ministerial committee indicted some top officials of NAMA after the contractor that handled the TRACON project officially reacted to eyebrows raised by the committee. The reaction became the subject of controversy with an allegation of N13bn fraud.
However, contrary to the alleged fraud, Thales International of France, which handled the project, in a response, cleared the management of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency of any under-hand dealings.
The company said everything expected to be supplied as components for the continued maintenance of the installed equipment were duly supplied to the latter according to what was contained in the contract agreement signed by all the parties involved.
Investigations further showed that the raid on NAMA was the beginning of investigations into the abuse of the TSA by civil servants in the federal ministries.
It was gathered that the EFCC traced the N5bn to an account of NAMA and that the fraud was TSA-related.
An operative of the agency, who confided in Saturday PUNCH, said, “More ministries, departments and agencies are being monitored. There are proofs that they are abusing the TSA. People in such places will be arrested. Our operatives raided the place and made one arrest.”
Efforts to get the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren’s reaction did not succeed as calls to his mobile telephone did not go through.
Also, attempts to get his counterpart for NAMA, Olajumoke Adetona, were unsuccessful as she did not respond to calls to her mobile phone.
A text message sent to her detailing our request to confirm why the anti-graft agency stormed the agency was also not replied as of the time of filing this report around 9pm on Friday.
The Department State Services had on Tuesday arrested three persons over a plot to steal N4.5bn from the TSA.
The four-man syndicate was about to hack into the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in August last year ordered every Federal Government Ministry, Department or Agency to start paying into the TSA all government revenues, incomes and other receipts.
According to the directive, this measure is specifically to promote transparency and facilitate compliance with sections 80 and 162 of the 1999 Constitution.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, had in a statement said that all receipts due to the Federal Government or any of its agencies must be paid into the TSA or designated accounts maintained and operated in the Central Bank of Nigeria, except otherwise expressly approved.
A TSA is a unified structure of government bank accounts enabling consolidation and optimal utilisation of government cash resources. It is a bank account or a set of linked bank accounts through which the government transacts all its receipts and payments and gets a consolidated view of its cash position at any given time.