Former spokesman to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Reuben Abati, has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that he does not have any money to refund to the government.
Mr. Abati has been in EFCC custody since turning himself in last week to explain what he knows about N50million payment he received from the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
The money was part of $2.1 billion allocated to the office of the former NSA for purchase of arms for the fight against Boko Haram, the EFCC says.
Mr. Dasuki is currently standing trial for allegedly mismanagement of the money.
The former presidential spokesman had reportedly promised to refund the money to government coffers in a bid to stave off trial but sources within the agency said he has recanted.
According to a report by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Abati told interrogators that he had no immediate means of sourcing the amount for which he is being detained.
Apart from being unable to refund the money, he also allegedly told investigators that he could not provide documentary backing up his disbursement of the N50million.
The former presidential aide reportedly said he disbursed the money as cash and material gifts to journalists during presidential campaign for the 2015 elections.
Asked to mention names of media practitioners who benefited from the largess, Mr. Abati reportedly said he did not keep such records.
“We thought he would be able to pay N5 million yesterday, but it turned out that he doesn’t have any money”, a source told the online newspaper.
The source also clarified that Mr. Abati had met his bail conditions since Friday, but the EFCC had refused to release him.
The commission had on October 26 granted him an administrative bail, and required as one of the conditions for his release, a surety of the level of director in the federal civil service.
Those conditions were met as at last week Friday but the EFCC failed to release him because of the stalemate over the N50 million.
The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached for comments.