•EFCC grills two Permanent Secretaries over scandal

•Releases suspect with N600m in account on bail

by Yusuf Alli,

TWO Federal Permanent Secretaries and three Directors of Finance have joined the list of those questioned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in connection with the ongoing probe of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita over an alleged N3billion contract scam.

Another suspect in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) who was detained after freezing the N600million in his account, has been released, The Nation learnt yesterday.

The released suspect is said to be a Project Accountant in the OHCSF.

Oyo-Ita herself is weighing options opened to her as she anxiously awaits the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari on her fate.
She does not want to be dismissed from office by the president, sources said.

The Nation also gathered that some highly-placed Nigerians may have been trying to intercede on her behalf with the President.

The options being considered by Oyo-Ita include a soft-landing by getting the authorities to hear her own side of the story; retirement or resignation; and a waiver from prosecution after returning funds allegedly traced to companies linked to her.

Her camp was in a dilemma yesterday on whether she should attend the presidential retreat for ministers-designate tomorrow.
She has been receiving treatment in an Abuja hospital in the last one week.

Investigation by The Nation revealed that the quizzed Permanent Secretaries and Directors of Finance confirmed the award of the contracts to the firms associated with Oyo-Ita.

It was learnt that they made payment vouchers and other relevant documents available to the EFCC investigating team.

A top source said: “our detectives have interrogated two Permanent Secretaries and three Directors of Finance of some of the ministries where contracts linked with the Head of Service were awarded.

“The investigating team has made progress because these officers are ready to testify against Oyo-Ita. They kept records and made all relevant documents available.

“We will soon release the details of our findings to the public to prove that our operatives had a good trail of these contracts and some money.

“We are expecting Oyo-Ita to recover as fast as possible in order to be able to report for interrogation on more issues we have raised for her. Some clues have led to the uncovering of more links.”

Responding to a question, the source said the “suspect in whose account we found N600million has been released on bail but his movement restricted pending the conclusion of investigation.

“All the invited Permanent Secretaries and Directors of Finance were also placed on administrative bail.”

A reliable source in the presidency confirmed that “she has been contacting highly-placed Nigerians to intercede on her behalf but we do not know what she wants from the President.

“Only the President can determine her fate in the light of the report of the preliminary investigation of the EFCC.

“I think when the President returns, he will look at the issues dispassionately and take a decision in the interest of the public.

“If you have observed the President since 2015, he does not rush to judgment on any case unlike during his tenure as a Military Head of State.
“The only constant thing about President Buhari is that he will not condone corruption no matter how big you are.”

A source close to her said: “Certainly, she wants to be allowed the benefit of the doubt. She prefers a soft landing to being hurled before a court.

“Many people are out to prevail on the President to negotiate her exit. The soft-landing options being considered by Oyo-Ita and her strategy team border on getting to hear her side, either retirement or resignation and a waiver from prosecution after returning funds allegedly traced to her or companies linked with her.”

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