The former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, will face the interrogators of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over an ongoing probe into the N37,170,855,753.44 allegedly laundered under her watch through a contractor, James Okwete.
Umar-Farouq, who served under the last administration of Muhammadu Buhari, will appear before the EFCC interrogators at the agency’s headquarters Abuja on Wednesday, January 3, 2024.
The meeting was set up for the former minister to explain the alleged fraud.
A document of the invitation read in part, “The commission is investigating a case of money laundering involving the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development during your time as minister.
“In view of the above, you are requested to kindly report for an interview with the undersigned. Scheduled as follows: Wednesday, 3rd of January, 2024. Time: 10am. This request is made pursuant to Section 38 (I) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 & Section 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”
All efforts to reach the ex-minister failed as her telephone was switched off.
However, her former media aide, Nneka Ikem, refused to comment on the development when reached.
Recall that NIGERIACRIME had earlier reported that Umar-Farouq denied knowledge of the contractor, James Okwete, who is still being held by the anti-graft agency.
The former minister tweeted on her X handle on Monday, “There have been a number of reports linking me to a purported investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission into the activities of one James Okwete, someone completely unknown to me.
“James Okwete neither worked for, nor represented me in any way whatsoever. The linkages and associations to my person are spurious. While I resist the urge to engage in any media trial whatsoever, I have however contacted my legal team to explore possible options to seek redress on the malicious attack on my person.
“I remain proud to have served my country as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with every sense of responsibility and would defend my actions, stewardship and programmes during my tenure whenever I am called upon to do so.”
Contacted, the spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, declined comments on the ex-minister’s invitation.
“I’m not around at the moment, and I can’t speak on that, please,” Oyewale said.
Okwete is in EFCC net in connection with the ongoing probe into the N37.1bn allegedly laundered by the ministry under Umar-Farouq.
A top EFCC official, who spoke in confience said the contractor had made useful statements concerning Umar-Farouq and former directors-general of agencies under the ministry.
The development coincides with the probe of three other ministers, who served under former President Muhammadu Buhari for alleged graft estimated at N150bn.
“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 N150bn,” a credible source in the EFCC said anonymously.