Elumelu recounts ordeal with EFCC over Power probe
Ndudi Godwin Elumelu: Ndudi Godwin Elumelu, was born on the 23rd of February, 1965. He hails from Onicha-Ukwu in the Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. He was elected into the Federal House of Representatives in 2007 to represent the Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Costituency. He spoke with select members of the Delta State Online Publishers Forum (DOPF) recently on the subject of his travail with the EFFCC over issues relating to the Power probe which he headed. We present to you excerpts of the interview.
How were you able to scale through the Power Probe?
It is very simple. Coming to the National Assembly, I took a decision; one I will never do a letter of recommendation for anybody to be given contract, two I will not also be a part of it. The only thing I cannot swear in my life is about insurance but it is my business. If they had said that they gave me insurance of one place and that was what I did, I will probably find it difficult to say that I did or I didn’t. Probably what I will do is to call my people and say please cross check our books and see if we got that job or that insurance business. So that was the first help.
What happened was that I probed the power sector, in that power sector, I was very critical about Rural Electrification. Rural Electrification if you recall, Liyel Imoke was the Minister then, his cousin was made the MD of Rural Electrification Agency. So when I did the probe, I found out that in every state, they were duplicating what the state was doing on paper not in reality. By duplication, I mean if I put this Electric Pole here, I will call it Delta State Rural Electrification Sign Post. Rural Electrification Nigeria will come there, take cognizance of where these poles are, come for appropriation, include in the budget of that same spot, then by the time the budget is passed, they award that contract for the same spot, then in a space of one month after doing all the necessary contract award as speculated by the due process, it will award and say it has been executed and the day auditors will go, auditors will obviously notify them. They will come to that place and paste Rural Electrification Sticker, so when auditors of the Federal Government leave, they will remove the sticker and leave the state government sticker, so it was duplication.
So what I did, in every state I went, I took the Federal Rural Electrification and the State Rural Electrification, I said Commissioner, you will follow me, MD you will follow me and in each pole, we will say show me your own. In the whole federation, we found out that, was what happened. So first of all, my recommendation was first; remove the MD of the Rural Electrification back to the Ministry to give room for further EFCC investigation of our recommendation for possible prosecution. Of course in so doing, there were hands that had benefited, so they didn’t know what to do. They ran to Baba in Ota, that this boy has started ooh. My senior brother was approached, he talked to me to step down and I asked him, I am surprised that you will be telling me this, you know how many that have died in the course of kerosene explosion because we have no electricity and he encouraged me and said, why are you now telling me this… ok, ok… but I will tell Baba that you are the stubborn person in our family and… I said yes, give me any name but leave it I will do it.
Now in our constituency project like I told you that I had solar street lights, they were projects I put in the budget that were on my constituency project. So after looking at what to use to catch me, they didn’t see anything, they saw those projects. They said he is the one who made Rural Electrification to award the contract. By the time they calculated the contract for the whole nation for rural electrification, it was N5.6bn. So the MD, they award the job, they called him and begged him to be a witness, claim that he forced you to award those contracts without due process but unfortunately for him, he didn’t know what they were telling him because that would mean he circumvented the law and the law of Procurement Act has no provision for influence. So he didn’t even read it, so they picked him first. When they picked him, he now wrote a statement that I made them to award those jobs because as the Chairman House Committee on Power and Steel, that even the ones in my community were awarded and up till date they have not been done.
So I was in London and when I was doing the probe, the President asked us to give Farida the draft report. Farida started arresting people and started collecting money from them. So when I was in London she called me that she wanted to see me, I told her that I was in London that I will come back. So people started calling me that I was being declared wanted and I said for what? So for me, having done probe, where I revealed people, I felt was untouchable. I came back that morning and walked straight to EFCC, I got there and she asked me, how much did you make? I said how and where, and she said on this… I said look, there was no money and I didn’t… she said you are a foolish man. She said Ok, that they should take me to somewhere and I should wait for her. While we were there, of course we stayed a little bit late, once it was closing time, she said ok that they were taking me to somewhere, it was an underground cell.
We were there for two days, apart from, of course food and all those things… so when the thing started happening, the same Farida told my brother that I collected N5.6bn and went and put it in Zenith Bank. If you read in the media then, you would see we have found the money, we have even accessed the… meanwhile, when I was filing my asset declaration form in EFCC, I stated there that I have two houses in London and the houses were bought even prior of my thinking of coming to National Assembly but they stated that I used the money buy those assets then my account which I used in training my children, Barclays Account, they said they have traced the money to my Barclays Account. So in the public court, people believed.
The N5.6bn, they didn’t tell Nigerians that there was an advanced payment guarantee, that that contract was backed by… the due process itself. REA as an agency did a due process. They asked for pre-qualification, they awarded contract, they had a board meeting, they have management meeting, approved everything, awarded, requested for 25% mobilization, asked them to bring advanced payment guarantee to secure the 75% balance. So banks that housed those contractors were like Zenith and co. So the component of the one that Zenith was housing, they claimed it was my money.
So they knew that my brother was at loggerhead with other banks due to business competition. Him and Zenith were the major people and fortunately and unfortunately, they are both from Delta but you know…. and they were confusing Nigerians because in their competition, people were arguing you go Zenith, you go to Standard Trust Bank (UBA) and Nigerians were so foolish that they didn’t know the thing is Delta, but they were focusing on Jim/Elumelu, so they didn’t know where they are coming. Meanwhile, these two people will go behind and be laughing at Nigerians because the assets of Nigerians were with them.
So one day, Prof. Nmonye came to me and for ten minutes he didn’t talk. Then he muttered something like but Ndudi why did you do it? I said do what? Even if you did it, why did you take it to Zenith that is the most painful. I just managed to come here because Tony has told me that he never step into this place. I said, which bank, which money? He said the N5.6bn. I said can you go and print out the statement? That was how I made sense to him. I said if I took it to Zenith, go and bring the bank statement, account number, everything… I said, Nmonye I will resign from National Assembly. He looked at me and said wait, I replied him yes. I said the one that they are talking about the house; please let them give you the address. Nmonye, before I joined the house, you were living in Elephant and Castle and I had had my house in Canary Wharf, you come to house. Is it the same house that they said I used stolen money? He said, wait, is it that house, I said yes. I said the second one is in Berthim and they are saying I used that same money. I said Berthim’s own I bought it in year 2000 and they are saying I stole, so did I reverse National Assembly sit from 2007 to 2000? he said, is it, I said check Google you would see it. So he left me.
The following day, see my brother. My brother came and said so you mean… I said where is the bank statement? He said no called Jim and Jim said there is nothing like Elumelu. I said you can’t stop at Elumelu, ask him to search all the company accounts, those one that have REA he should bring them to you, that they have advance payment guarantee and go and do search, don’t come here again, finish the search in corporate affairs, if there is any name from our village side, don’t come back here. Tony said no, he doesn’t need to do that, that Jim has told him that I don’t have an account, that he is going straight to see the President. So that was how he went to villa, met the president, the president said ah, our brother? He said yes because am surprised, this is a guy that I told to do the probe how can he after the beautiful work he has done he will go and now begin to tell them to… and that I told my brother I said take my report go my house take volume this and page so go and show him that I indicted the MD of REA before they awarded the contract, I said if I wanted to shoot you, the gun didn’t exploded, you took the gun from me and I will tell you I made a mistake, he said what do I mean by that adage? I said because I tried to shoot the REA MD by way of my report that he should be prosecuted then I will go behind and call him and said give me contract, I said do you think I’m foolish, I said my recommendation was that he should be sacked from that office and he is aware and I tongue lashed him when he came for my probe then I will go behind and tell him to give me contract he said you know you are making sense, I said no I’m not making sense but go and take the report go show the president, so he took the report and showed president, the president was shocked so that was how they summoned Farida. Farida said it was the report they gave her, the president said bring the report, in the report, EFCC field officers who went on fact finding even went to Oko and they wrote that in the history of Nigeria that there is no project that has ever being completed but that in this particular case all the projects under his Federal Constituency has been duly completed and handed over to Local Government but Farida did not include it. So the president said there is a continuation of this report that is not here …
So Federal Government now said, you know in prosecution, there is what they call force prosecution, there is what they call voluntary prosecution, the force prosecution is that Federal Government is saying we don’t care, kill him, voluntary is by merit. So that was how they now took us to court because initially they didn’t want to arraign us. They arraigned us to court, EFCC came said that they want to do what they called accelerated hearing and there should not be proof of evidence. So I sued them that if you want to allege that I stole, you must bring proof. So they said they were not going to avail us with proof of evidence, so we sued them and I won the case and they provided proof of evidence. In the proof of evidence, my name was never mentioned in any of the proofs, I didn’t even write statement in EFCC. The only thing they asked me in EFCC was how do we do budget and I stated how we do budgets. They asked at what point somebody can insert things in the budget, I said there is no point after president has assented that anybody can insert. Whatever that is collective is done prior to the President’s assent and the detail of the budget and the bill of budget are always forwarded by the clerk of National Assembly to the President, and he goes through it before he endorses. They said is it, I said yes, they asked me to sign, so I signed. That was what was included in the proof of evidence.
So that was how my lawyer now took on them and now challenged them on the foundation of the arraignment because to proffer charges on any suspect, you must have reasons to proffer charges and the court ought not to have granted them leave to prefer charges if there are no reasons for that. So, we sued on the wrong foundation for the court to have even abinitio to prefer charges. So they came… and the only way to allege that you have proof to prefer charges is on proof of evidence. So they could not defend it, all they said was that oh no… by the time we open the case you will see evidence, we said this is the evidence.. it was then Justice Oniyongi tongue lashed EFCC. He said look, I’m so ashamed in this country, the man did a probe, alleged that they stole $13.8bn and instead of going after those who stole that money, you are talking about N5.6bn… let us even assume that the man took N5.6bn , you didn’t go after $13.8bn, you are going after N5.6bn. How does it make sense?
So in the history of Nigeria that was the first time that such a fete was recorded. It was the same day my lawyer moved the motion that I was discharged and acquitted.