Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN), counsel to the former minister of humanitarian services, disaster management and social development, Sadiya Farouq, has clarified that his client did not shun the invitation extended to her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Okpeseyi said that on the contrary she was eager to make herself available to offer clarifications to operatives of the anti-graft agency who were looking into the books of two financially independent agencies under the ministry, including the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA).
“I was at the headquarters of the Commission on Tuesday to submit a letter to that effect and to seek extension of time (a shift in date) to enable my client, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, to make herself available at another opportune time to offer clarifications about activities of some agencies under the ministry she superintended in the immediate past administration.
“Although, the EFCC has yet to send me a formal reply, the leadership availed us of its understanding, which resulted in parties amicably agreeing to have the interview originally scheduled for Wednesday (January 3, 2024) postponed to a time that the Commission would subsequently fix after looking through its schedules,” Okpeseyi said in a chat with the media on Thursday.
He said that once the coast was clear and a new date was fixed by the commission, his client would be available to answer questions and offer clarifications on the areas of her stewardship that are not clear to the commission.
The senior lawyer took the opportunity of the chat to attack the impression being created in a section of the media that his client was being invited for alleged misappropriation of funds.
According to him: “That is not the case in this circumstance. She has been invited to offer clarifications into certain expenditures by some agencies under her ministry.”
The EFCC earlier said it would not arrest her for the alleged N37.1 billion fraud in agencies under the ministry.
The EFCC had also said that the former minister did not shun its invitation.
The EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, said that the N37.1 billion being branded might not be a correct figure of the money misappropriated under the ministry.
He said: “On the figure that is being branded, I cannot categorically confirm the figure because it is an ongoing thing. We are still tracing all the transactions here and there; it may be more than that.
“We can’t publish a figure now until we finish the tracking, and it may be more than what is being brandished now.”
The EFCC spokesperson added that the national coordinator and chief executive officer of the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA), Halima Shehu, had been released.
Shehu, who was arrested on Tuesday, was, however, directed to be coming to the EFCC office for interrogation until the end of the investigation.
She was arrested in connection with the ongoing probe of the humanitarian affairs ministry.