Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Economic Financial and Crimes Commission (EFCC) has directed former National Commissioners of National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) to return all official vehicles that they went away with after the expiration of their tenure of office.
The implication, it was gathered is that the EFCC was questioning the propriety of the presiding officers’ approval that directed the former National commissioners to retire and go away with their official 508 Peugeot vehicles.
An Abuja High Court had earlier in July issued a warrant of arrest on the former Clerk of National Assembly, Ataba Sani Omolori following an exparte motion by the EFCC alleging non response to their invitation and indictment in a statement of the former chairman and secretary of the NASC.
It was gathered that the former Clerk of the National Assembly, who willingly submitted himself to the EFCC after retirement, made statements that led to the recall of the former secretary.
Information and documents sighted at the NASC secretariat in Utako, Abuja, showed that the former Clerk of National Assembly conveyed the approval of the Presiding Officers of the Senate and House of Representatives for the National Assembly Commissioners to go away with their last official vehicles in line with the extant practice at the National Assembly and as requested by the outgone National Assembly Commissioners.
To this effect, Omolori authored a letter dated July 28 2019 with reference: NASS/ CNA/160/Vol13/582, titled: ‘Re: Request For Your Clarification Of The Pool Vehicles Of The Outgoing Members Of National Assembly Service Commission’ to the Secretary of NASC.
The letter read in part: “I write with reference to your letter NASC/CNA/43/11/37 dated 17th July 2018 on the above subject and to confirm that officers, who retired from the National Assembly Service Commission at the level of Secretary or Director have always been allowed to go away with last official vehicles either on payment of fixed prices or for free.
“Further, I wish to convey to you, the no objection of the Presiding Officers to allow the present National Assembly Service Commissioners/Secretary go away with their last official vehicles – Peugeot 508. The Procurement Directorate is also being advised to conclude the auctioning of the Hilux to the Commissioners to enable them pay the auction price and possess the vehicles accordingly.”
But the EFCC in a counter directive, in a letter dated August 20 2020, to the acting secretary of NASC, signed by Ahmad Sa’ad Abubakar, Zonal Head, Abuja for the Acting Executive Chairman said, “We refer to the case of alleged conspiracy and criminal conversion of Public Property involving the erstwhile chairman and commissioners of your commission.
“In view of the above, you are kindly requested to inform the under-listed former commissioners to return the official vehicles – 508 Cars attached to them on or before September 3, 2020 and to those, who have already disposed their cars, your office should value it on its appropriate government value price for repayment to government pending the conclusion of the investigation into the matter,” the EFCC letter directed.
The letter listed those concerned to include Alhaji Adamu Fika, chairman; Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, Alhaji Abubakar Garba Rufai, Alhaji Abdulkadir Abugi, Elder Stephen Yepwi, Mrs. Riskat Oyebimbe Alabi, Barrister Oluwafunmilola Lamuye, Hon. Abe Chukwu, Hon. Godfrey Dikeocha, Senator Dahiru Gassol, Mallam Idi Adamu Ningi and Dr. Paul Oweh.
According to the EFCC letter, “This request is made pursuant to section 38 (1) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004 and section 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended.”
However, efforts to get reaction from the NASC secretary and other former Commissioners listed above proved abortive. But it was learnt that the new chairman of NASC has duly forwarded the EFCC letter, directing a return of the vehicles to all concerned.