Abuja – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has launched investigations into an alleged multi billion naira fraud involving four ministers who served under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

The former ministers, names withheld, were alleged to have laundered over N187 billion in 143 bank accounts.

In a related development, the Anti graft agency arrested a government contractor, James Okwete, in connection with the ongoing probe into the N37 billion allegedly laundered by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development under former Minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouk.

According to a highly placed EFCC official, the contractor had made useful statements concerning Umar-Farouk and former directors-general of the ministry.

“It is not only Umar-Farouk we are investigating. Three other former ministers are also under probe. They were allegedly involved in graft to the tune of N150 billion,” a credible source in the EFCC told Punch.

Sources said Umar-Farouk and some former agencies’ directors-general under the ministry might be arrested by the anti-graft commission following the details of the financial misappropriation so far revealed to investigators by the contractor.Efforts to reach Umar-Farouk for her reactions on the allegations proved abortive as her media aide, Nneka Nkem, was also not available for comments.

Further investigation revealed that the N37.1 billion was transferred from the Federal Government’s coffers and sent to 38 different bank accounts domiciled in five legacy commercial banks belonging to or connected with Okwete.Top sources confirmed that Okwete, who is being held at the EFCC Headquarters in Jabi since four days ago, had been cooperating with the operatives. A source said: “The contractor, Mr Okwete, who was used in laundering the money had been arrested by the commission. He is currently detained in our custody and has been giving investigators more details that have indicted the former Minister, Sadiya and some DGs under the ministry, and they may be brought in anytime soon too.”

Another source said: “The contractor involved in the N37 billon fraud has been arrested and would spend Christmas in our custody. He has given some names, and the former humanitarian affairs minister and directors-general in the ministry were linked to the fraud.”Documents revealed that following receipt of the funds; Okwete transferred N6,746,034,000 to Bureau De Change Operators, withdrew N540 million in cash, purchased luxury cars with N288,348,600 and bought luxury houses in Abuja and Enugu State with N2,195,115,000.So far, 53 companies had been traced to Okwete, who was also said to have used 47 of the firms to secure Federal Government contracts amounting to N27,423,824,339.86.He is also linked with 143 bank accounts in 12 commercial banks of which 134 accounts are corporate accounts linked to different companies.Checks with the Corporate Affairs Commission revealed that Okwete is a director in only 11 of the 53 companies, while the remaining 42 companies’ accounts were linked to his Bank Verification Number as a signatory to the accounts.The document revealed that between 2018 and 2023, the subject (Okwete) received the sum of N37,170,855,753.44 from the coffers of the Federal Government linked to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.The money was sent to 38 bank accounts domiciled in five legacy commercial banks. The suspect transferred N6,746,034,000 to Bureau De Change Operators, N540mn withdrawn in cash, N288,348,600 used to purchase cars and used N2,195,115,000 to purchase choice properties within Abuja and Enugu State.“Fifty-three companies were traced to the suspect. He used 47 of the companies to lift Federal Government contracts amounting to N27,423,824,339.86.‘’Okwete is associated with 143 bank accounts in 12 commercial banks in which 134 of the 143 accounts are corporate accounts linked to different companies,” the report stated.

The spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale declined comments. “I can’t speak on that, please,” Oyewale said.

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