The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has quizzed erstwhile Chief of Staff to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Brig.-Gen. Jones Oladehinde Arogbofa (rted), over a N585million gift.
The N585million “gift” was in the form of a house, presented to him by some government officials led by a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power.
It was learnt that the public officers dipped their hands into the national purse and stole N27.2billion from which they purchased the house and presented to the former chief of staff.
Investigations by the EFCC revealed that the money was benefits of deceased staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
Following the exposure of the source of the funds and his subsequently grilling, Mr. Arogbofa, who was appointed by then President Jonathan as his chief of staff in February 2014, has agreed to refund about N150million of the terminal benefits which was traced to the property purchased for him.
It was learnt that the former Permanent Secretary, who played a key role in the diversion of the cash, has also been grilled by the EFCC.
It was learnt that more heads may roll in government on the diversion of the funds.
Informed sources said those who looted the dead workers benefits decided to involve top government officials in the deal to cover up their tracks.
About 10 of such officials are currently under surveillance.
The coordinators of the deal were said to have paid cash to or bought expensive gifts for the affected officials.
One of the source said: “The perpetrators of the fraud pretended they were doing Arogbofa a favour by virtue of his closeness to ex-President Jonathan. They told him that they had a gift for him which turned out to be the N585million house.
“Having trusted those who gave him the gift, the ex-Chief of Staff did not either ask for the source of funds for the property or how much it cost.
“It was at the EFCC that Arogbofa got to know that the property was bought from the looted the N27, 188,232,208.20 benefits of the deceased staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
“When he met a former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Power, who played some roles in the diversion of funds, and others, they started apologizing for roping him in.
“But it was too late for the former Chief of Staff and all those implicated in the dirty deals. The long arm of the law does not accommodate ignorance”.
Responding to a question, the source added: “We have interrogated the ex-Permanent Secretary but investigation is still ongoing on his roles in the diversion of the funds. This is why we will not disclose his identity to prevent a cover up by other accomplices.
“Preliminary findings pointed to him as one of the arrowheads of the fraudulent diversion of the N27.18billion.
“We have already watch-listed a top official of Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited that was used by the suspects under probe. This means, INTERPOL or any other international organisation can arrest him in any part of the world”.
The source said the former chief of staff has agreed to refund N150million traced to the property purchased for him.
“In fact, he has made partial payment to the EFCC and he promised to bring the balance next week”.