On the eve to the earlier February 15th fixed date for the Presidential elections, strange things did happen, it was gathered that a private jet loaded with raw cash could not take off from Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Ikeja Lagos, due to the share weight of the money on board, this development got to the authorities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at the airport when they were tipped-off about the strange cargo, and as would be expected, they swong into action and commenced investigation concerning the source, the owner and destination of the huge load of cash.
During the course of their investigation, the crew of the private jet were said to have informed the operatives that the destination of the bulk money cargo was Kwara state, adding that the cash was election expenses for the next day. According to the source
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“The EFCC operatives interrogated the crew and they claimed they were part of the government. They also gave a code which they assumed the operatives would understand, but the detectives insisted on taking away the money.
The investigators were not convinced with this explanation so they insisted on taking the cash haul to their vault pending the outcome of the investigation. Unknown to the EFCC detectives, one of the crew members had placed a call to the power behind this huge monetary movement, then things began to unfold
“However, a phone call came from the Presidential Villa ordering them to hands off the matter and clear off from the scene. Shortly after, armed soldiers took over the scene and the money was transferred into another plane which took off by 10pm that night.”
So the EFCC was effectively barred from investigating the private jet that was loaded with raw cash on February 15, 2019, the eve of the aborted presidential and National Assembly elections, by a phone call from the Nigerian seat of power, according to the Saturday PUNCH.
All attempts to reach the Public Relations Officer of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, proved futile and could not be reached for comments on the incident of the aircraft involved in the huge cash movement as she did not respond to calls to her phone.
Tony Orilade, the acting EFCC spokesman, said that he saw the alleged picture of the said aircraft being shared on the social media, he said that people should not draw conclusions since the pictures could have been ‘created and recreated.’
“On the plane-load of cash you asked about, I saw the pictures and we know that these pictures are things that can be manipulated to achieve the purposes by their producers. All the reports from the field are being reviewed and we shall come out with our position once it is ready.
“Let’s not be carried away by the activities of mischief-makers; like the acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu said, we shall continue to do the right thing to make Nigeria a better country for everyone.”
In a related matter, the movement of huge cash in two bullion vans by the leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on the eve of the elections has also not been looked into by EFCC, all indications point to the fact that because of the caliber of “untouchables” involved, EFCC will keep looking the other way concerning these huge unlawful money movements on the eve of an election exercise bedeviled by accusations of vote buying by certain individuals on behalf of certain political parties.
Recall that Tinubu did not disagree with the allegation of huge cash movement to his private residence when he was interviewed by journalists in Lagos. When asked about the money, Tinubu had this to say
“What is your issue with bullion vans in my house? I have not done any government business in the last five years. So I didn’t steal government money.
“And the bullion van was not said to contain election materials, so what offence have I committed? I decide where to keep it (money) and how to keep it.”
Despite the fact that the unlawful transportation of such bulk money into a private residence is a blatant violation of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, it does seem as if the anti-graft agency has no plan to probe the incident or does not have the will to do their constitutionally assigned duty because those involved in this affront to the nation’s laws are their benefactors.
However, the EFCC spokesman speaking on the matter assured Nigerians that the anti-graft commission had successfully curbed vote-buying in the elections and prevented a repeat of the incidents in Ekiti and Osun governorship elections. Hear him
“You will agree with me that to a large extent, we were able to curtail vote-buying with our men conspicuously positioned at polling booths across the country in the course of the elections.”
Since EFCC claims to have successfully curbed vote buying and also believe that they prevented a repeat of previous elections, Nigerians wait for them to enlighten them to what purpose these huge sums of monies that were moved on the eve of an election were for.