Where is the over N13b cash raised for the Centenary Project?
This is part of the questions detectives are asking former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Anyim Pius Anyim and his wife.
Anyim, his wife, 20 firms and others are being probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged fraud in the massive project.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan is said to have disregarded the opinions of former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Bala Mohammed and former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) on the project.
According to a document, which our correspondent stumbled on, 37 investors subscribed to the project, which was floated to mark the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914 by the late Sir Frederick Lord Lugard, the first Governor-General of Nigeria.
In all, $80, 750,000 (N13, 162, 250,000 then) was paid by investors.
Precious Integrated Company Limited owned by Mrs. Anyim was given 5% equity worth N815m for rendering services in kind, according to a document The Nation stumbled on.
The land acquired for the project was 1, 264, 78 hectares and N1, 410, 178, 599.59 earmarked as compensation for 3,868 land owners, who got N1, 234, 747, 076, 000 paid as compensation; N697, 015, 863 is yet to be paid to land owners
The document said: “Anyim was the SGF and the coordinator of the Centenary City Project, which was meant to be privately owned. Any interested investor was asked to pay $5million equity.
“Former President Goodluck Jonathan, through the then FCT Minister, approved the allocation of 1, 264, 78 hectares for the city. But the FCT used the allocation to acquire 5% equity in the city and the premium of the land was put at about N8billion.
“Investigation however revealed that the wife of the ex-SGF was allocated 5% equity(worth N815million) in the Centenary City Plc. Anyim’s wife owns Precious Integrated Limited, which is managing the shares.
“This company didn’t contribute in monetary terms but it was given 5% equity. When we invited Anyim’s wife and others, they said the company ran some services during the Centenary Celebration and these services were quantified and converted to $5million, which represents 5% equity.”
Anyim’s wife’s company could not ascertain the services rendered. Besides, there was no agreement that the ‘so-called services’ would be converted to equity in the Centenary City Plc. The EFCC invited Anyim’s wife butshe could not explain the services offered the Federal Government. She was, however, granted bail.
“Some other firms that paid contributions for the Centenary City were firms that enjoyed contracts from the N58, 146,983,677.85 Ecological Funds in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation during Anyim’s tenure,” the document said.
One of the 20 key firms was Foundation Years Limited, which alone received a net payment of N10,308,017,838.85 from the Ecological Funds between 2014 and 2015. The account opening for the project had the address of the Office of the SGF.
“There are evidence of suspected fraud, money laundering and abuse of office which the former SGF, wife, 20 firms and others should be investigated for,” according to the document.
On the Centenary City Project, the document indicated that 37 investors, including foreigners and overseas companies, subscribed by paying $80, 750,000 (N13, 162, 250,000 then). The total land acquired for the project was 1, 264, 78 hectares and N1, 410, 178, 599.59 earmarked as compensation for 3,868 land owners.
“So far, N1, 234, 747, 076, 000 was paid as compensation, leaving a balance of N697, 015, 863 yet to be paid. We have been able to interact with some of the beneficiaries.
“Investigation showed that two-thirds of the companies/ individuals paid cash of $5million each. But our team discovered that weeds have taken over the Centenary City. We have invited top officials of Centenary City Plc for interaction on the whereabouts of the payments made by local and foreign investors and why the project has not taken off.
“The city was also granted the status of a Free Trade Zone by Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority ( NEPZA). A former Managing Director of NEPZA was invited for questioning on how he came about the status, especially the criteria used. He said he acted on the directive of a former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment. At the appropriate time, we might interact with the ex-minister.
But EFCC detectives also discovered that the opinions of a former Minister of FCT, Sen. Bala Mohammed and a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke(SAN) were ignored by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
They also detected that many people in Jonathan government had personal interest in the project rather than national interest.
The document added: “The ex-President (Jonathan) acting in complete disregard of the advisory opinions of the former FCT Minister and ex-AGF approved the request for some components of the the project by Executive Fiat. There is a clear case of people in government having personal interest and not national interest.
“To support this opinion, the government office became the identified business address of the centenary with all the paraphernalia of official involvement for a purely private project.”
As at the time of filing this report, the former SGF, Anyim Pius Anyim has been released on bail by the EFCC. There are two sureties, but his passport has been seized and he is expected to report at the EFCC whenever he is invited.
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