In the last three years, the present administration has made the fight against corruption its major policy direction, but Brigadier-General Adamu Yusuf who retired after 33 years of distinguished, unblemished meritorious service in the military believes there are bad eggs within the system frustrating President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts in this direction. In this interview, he narrates how looted funds recovered through privileged information provided by him and his allies and shared with some highly placed presidency officials developed wings and flew away without a trace
What is the name of your company and what does it do?
My company is in the business of carrying out vocational training of students in various states in Nigeria; arranges and coordinates training of students in the United Kingdom and carries out the conduct and implementation of contracts awarded to the company after competitive bids.
So how come you got involved in this intriguing web of recovered funds, We will like to know the genesis of this money, over $2 billion that was recovered from NNPC Building in Area 11. What happened?
What happened was that I got very reliable information from a friend, Hon. Chuma Nzeribe that money was stashed in Flat 6, Block 1 (NNPC Quarters, Area 11, Garki). Subsequently, my contact in the Villa immediately introduced me to Abba Kyari (Chief of Staff to the President). I was also introduced to Badamosi Gamawa, who was a Director of administration in CoS’ office. I met with Abba Kyari and told him that I’m in custody of privileged information revealing where money was stashed in a place I mentioned earlier. I told him emphatically that the people involved who have provided the information to expose where the money was kept need to be compensated. The Chief of Staff agreed with me totally. In fact, he promised that 20 percent would be given to them. At that time, there was no whistleblowing policy.
I believed him on the strength that a man in such an exalted position should be trusted and seen to be above board, that he would be full of integrity. But regrettably in the end, I was so wrong. He showed his true character only after I had given him all the information. After getting the information, he mobilized the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawan Daura who led the operation to recover the money. I was told it took them three days to evacuate the whole money which was denominated in Dollars including gold bars. After the successful operation, Kyari called and thanked me. The money in question was cash in US Dollars, and gold bars. It took them precisely three days to evacuate the money. After that, further attempts to reach him to fulfill his promise of compensating those who gave the vital information became very difficult after the evacuation. He became incommunicado. I could not believe that somebody working with Mr Integrity could easily renege on a gentleman’s agreement willingly agreed to by both parties..
He said he was going to give you 20 percent. Did you trust him, why didn’t you put it in writing. If there was no whistleblowing policy at the time, why did you trust him?
I trusted him believeing that he is a man of integrity, because he is working with a man of integrity (President Mohammadu Buhari). Like in the military, anything that is written about a military officer is what he is and you don’t rise to such an exalted position without people knowing who you are. Everybody in the military, once you call my name, one thousand generals will tell you this is how he is. So I didn’t know that this civilian, Abba Kyari has no integrity. He is a man who is the opposite of what he claims to be and I’m highly disappointed by this realization. I honestly didn’t have a reason to distrust him, I regarded him as a man of honour and would have looked rather shameful for me to ask him to draw an agreement. If there is no trust, because I know myself, I am straight forward, what I say you can confirm from anybody. I know that even the people that are aware of the case would not behave like that.
What you are saying is that the Chief of Staff to the President betrayed the trust you had in him?
Yes. There are witnesses that know exactly what transpired. Like I mentioned Chuma Nzeribe (former member of the House of Representatives) as one of them. Another person is Buhari Abba, a former Director of Finance with the EFCC, Alhaji Badamosi Gamawa who was a Director in the CoS office, they were all directors and the other ladies. One of them had to flee from the country. She went on self exile, because her life was being threatened. She was kidnapped and subjected to all manner of dehumanizing acts. The most painful and shocking part of this is that after the successful operation of evacuating the stashed funds, nothing was reported as recovered because it was not reflected anywhere.
How did you find out that for instance the money was not paid into the Ministry of Finance account?
What happened was that Chuma Nzeribe, because he is deeply involved, he is the one that brought it to me, thinking that being a general, the man should have integrity and treat the matter appropriately and transparently. Unfortunately, he totally betrayed us by choosing to do the opposite. Chuma went to do the findings and found out that nothing was reflected in Ministry of Finance. Thereafter,he realised that the money was evacuated but nobody mentioned about that. You can get him now to corroborate what I am saying.
But the reason why you are making this effort is because the Chief of Staff said the money has been deposited with the Ministry of Finance?
No. the only communication he had with me was when the DSS operatives stormed the place; he confirmed to me that ‘we found the gold mine and the United States Dollars”. He said he was busy and that he will get back to me at the end of the exercise which he never did.
Why do you think he is avoiding you?
Because he knows I know the secret of everything and I can say it anywhere.
And you are ready to go forward with this?
Am ready to go forward and if he wants a one-on-one engagement, I’m ready and if he wants to go to court I am ready. There are other people who are part of this. People are there and there are witnesses who saw that the business transaction of evacuating the stashed funds took place in the address I gave to him for the operation.
Giving the fact he was fencing you and not talking to you, what further steps did you take to realise your goal?
Yes, I took giant strides. I quickly went to meet with General Theophilus Y. Danjuma, to report to him. Danjuma took it upon himself and went to the villa on this matter. Thereafter, Mr President became sick and went abroad and the matter died on that note. Subsequently, when I could not swing it with General Danjuma, we went again and met two committees where I also wrote a petition to a group of investigators who cross-examined all of us on account of our submissions and wrote their reports.
Which Committee was that ?
The Obono Obla Special presidential investigation panel on the recovery of public property. The Obla panel cross-examined us, all of us were there including Chuma, the lady lawyer was also there and they cross examined everybody and when they finished they said they will get back to us. That report has not seen the light of the day because no action has been taken. But I remained resolute and undaunted and continued to remain hopeful. When I eventually pressed further, they said I should write a letter. I did that and since October 2018, nothing has happened.
Did you see a copy of the report?
No. I did not.
Since then, you have not met with Abba Kyari?
I met with Abba Kyari only once before the evacuation of the money.
Did you in anyway meet with Mr President to brief him on any of these issues?
Yes, I met him through the National Security Adviser, Major General Monguno (rtd), he was one of my junior colleagues. When I mentioned it to him he exclaimed what? He took me to Mr President. I think that was his first year in office and he said he was busy with the budget and he said he would get back to me. Three and half years, four years and I have not heard from him, nobody got back to me.
Is it not strange that something of this magnitude happened and Mr President got information about stashed fund somewhere and they succeded in recovering it and the money is missing and misappropriated. Didn’t you expect something better than this?
I did but I know that he took ill, he was not around and there are many problems on his mind but it is on record that I had made contact with him and even left a document with him. I’m yet to get any feedback as we speak. I don’t believe that all the necessary information reached him. I also believe he will not preside over fraud.
What you want to achieve is to ensure that the truth is heard, so what is the way forward?
My prayer is this: let an investigation be conducted and let the truth be ascertained. I am too old, too matured to stand before a court and tell a lie. There are living witnesses and the essence of this is to bring shame to the person who is carrying out these abominable acts behind Mr President and trying to tarnish his image. I know without any doubt and I can vouch that Mr President is a man of honour and integrity, that respect I have for him, it is all the more reason why am pursuing this for it to come to limelight.
Apart from the money, there are also other larger implications in what has just happened. You now imagine the president with his fight against corruption and his anti-corruption drive which means that everybody sees the president as a man who has integrity, the larger implication is why would someone with such a stain be working with the president?
It baffles me, honestly, it baffles me and there are several allegations against Abba Kyari but whether they fall on deaf ears, or do not get across to the President, I don’t know. The issue is that he is fenced, you cant penetrate through this cabal to see the President and it is a really bad case.
You know this is a financial crime. Have you approached EFCC?
They are not interested in the case. I have seen the Chairman, Ibrahim Magu but he’s not willing to do anything about it.
Do you think that all these reports detailing all these investigations are being swept under the carpet by the Chief of Staff?
I don’t know whether they are being swept under the carpet pby the Chief of Staff, but what I know is that Mr president is not aware. I am the last person to believe that he will see such fraudulent person close to him and turn his eyes away. I believe they are keeping and shrouding many vital information from him. I believe he is not aware because he is the last man that would preside over fraud.
Because this is a very dangerous precedent if things like this can happen and be swept under the carpet for so long, you can imagine what greater damage may have been done if things like these don’t get to the president and the president does not know anything. I know for sure and believe he does not want to be associated with dubious people that will not let him know what is happening around him and prefer to be running rings of fraud behind him. I have been patient with this matter for four years and it has been swept under the carpet. Abba Kyari and Lawan Daura are behind this because they know what happened.
How is Lawan Daura involved in this?
He executed the job.
He was the one that evacuated the loot?
Yes. He executed the job by directing his staff to conduct the operation. Abba Kyari and Lawan Daura worked in tandem on this project.
Could it be part of the reason why he was fired from his post?
That is a different matter. This matter happened three years ago until he had another problem. It is unconnected,
So what you are asking the president to do is to produce the report and hold Lawan Daura and Abba Kyari accountable?
Do you think such a man is fit to occupy the office of Chief of Staff to the President going by your experience?
Your guess is as good as mine. It is not befitting at all for him to be in that office. He lacks integrity, he is not a trustworthy man.
This very NNPC building, where the money was discovered, who owns it?
It is owned by Bello Adoke.
The former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice?
He owns the building, that Block 6, Flat One and that money maybe be part of the Malabu oil case. I think it is better you also interview Hon. Chuma Nzeribe, he is there. If you want him to come over I can call him right now.
Well, the way I am looking at it, Abba Kyari could as well argue that since there was no whistle blowing policy then that you guys don’t deserve anything. Do you think he will be justified to think that way?
Then why did he make the promise? He didn’t need to make the promise if he didn’t mean it. As a gentleman, I’m surprised that several years after he couldn’t come and see me. This is really not all about money. Everybody will die and be buried without money. Nobody will be buried with money.
Since he promised you people 20 percent at that time when there was no whistle-blowing policy and it is now five percent, in trying to forge an agreement which one is better for you now?
It is obvious what you are saying but whatever he says since it was not written there is every possibility that he is going to deny it. I have nothing to gain to come up and tell lies against anybody. It is not in my character. I have never done it. I served the nation for 34 years and retired as a Brigadier-General in 2006. It is on records that I retired voluntarily.
So in the end, what sort of settlement are we looking at?
Let them do the needful. We have played our own part and some people sat on it against national interest. That was why we brought it to the attention of government so that they can do the right thing for the entire nation, not for a few people to corner the money. It is painful. If it is a country like China, they deserve death penalty and nobody has done anything about it.
And you are sure it has not been remitted to government coffers?
If they have done that I don’t know and I’m unaware of such a development, they should prove it.