Sadiya Umar-Farouq, immediate-past Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development has denied knowing James Okwete, a contractor who was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly laundering N37bn.
She described the allegation of complicity as a malicious attack on her person.
Umar-Farouk responded in the late hours of Monday, Dec. 25, in a message posted on her X handle (formerly Twitter) and Instagram page.
It was previously reported that details of an ongoing EFCC probe revealed that N37bn was transferred from the Federal Government’s coffers and sent to 38 different bank accounts domiciled in five legacy commercial banks belonging to or connected with Okwete.
Okwete’s arrest coincided with the ongoing probe of the Humanitarian ministry and three ministers who served under the immediate past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The contractor, who allegedly transferred over N6 billion (N6,746,034,000.00) to Bureau De Change operators, also withdrew N540,000,000.00 in cash. Okwete said to have purchased luxury cars with N288,348,600.00, and bought luxury houses in Abuja and Enugu with N2,195,115,000.00.
Okwete, who was alleged to have used 47 companies to secure federal government contracts to the tune of N27,423,824,339.86, has 53 companies allegedly traced to him.
However, Umar-Farouk denied any dealing with Okwete.
She said, “There have been a number of reports linking me to a purported investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into the activities of one James Okwete, someone completely unknown to me. James Okwete neither worked for, nor represented me in any way whatsoever. The linkages and associations to my person are spurious.
“While I resist the urge to engage in any media trial whatsoever, I have however contacted my Legal Team to explore possible options to seek redress on the malicious attack on my person.
“I remain proud to have served my country as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with every sense of responsibility and would defend my actions, stewardship and programmes during my tenure whenever I am called upon to do so.”