While Nigerians continue to groan over economic hardship, animals, such as snakes, monkeys, gorillas and even termites have been feeding fat from the national treasury. In the last five years, animals have reportedly carted away at least N17, 112,800,000.00.
In this report, this online media chronicled how various corruption scandals in the nation have been tied to different animals. More importantly, the report x-rayed the status of the individuals behind the missing funds.
Snake Swallowed N36 Million naira
In February 2018, Nigerians were dazzled by the jaw-dropping and bewildering report that emanated from the Benue JAMB Office, where it was revealed that a mysterious snake swallowed thirty-six million naira (36,000) – the incident had sparked a national outburst as many Nigerians suspected foul play.
Recall that auditors from the capital Abuja had been sent to take inventory of funds accrued over the sale of scratch cards to students hoping to gain access to JAMB’s website to register or check status of their admissions. The audit came up after reforms by the current registrar struck out use of the cards. However, they were dazed by the then Clerk, Philomena Chieshe, who could not account for 36 million accrued from the sales of scratch cards.
Harping on the incident, JAMB’s head office in a statement had said “A sales clerk, Philomina Chieshe, told JAMB registrar and his team that she could not account for N36 million she made in previous years before the abolition of scratch cards. In the course of interrogation, Philomena denied the allegations that she stole the money but confessed that her housemaid connived with another JAMB staff, Joan Asen, to “spiritually” (through a snake) steal the money from the vault in the account office”.
More than a year after the revelation, Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission launched investigation into the issue with a view to bringing the suspect(s) to book.
EFCC said Philomina Chieshe and five others were found complicit over the issue hence their arraignment before a High Court judge in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The story nosedived and took a different twist during hearing. At the resumed hearing of the case involving Samuel Saleh Umoru and Philomina Chieshe, who were formerly Zonal coordinator and Revenue officer of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board, JAMB, respectively, on March 17, 2020, Stanley Ani, an investigator with the EFCC told the court that Umoru, at various times, instructed Chieshe to pay some monies into his bank account as a loan.
In his examination-in-chief led by Ekele Iheanacho, Ani, who led the team of investigators in the case, told the court that the second defendant, Chieshe, said in her volunteered confession statement that her coordinator, Umoru who is the first defendant had instructed her at various times to pay in some amount of monies into his personal account.
“Chieshe submitted copies of tellers showing where she deposited monies into Umoru’s (first defendant) account on his instruction and other documents showing collection of ‘I O U’ by the first defendant from the proceeds of sales of e-facility cards”, a witness revealed.
He further told the court that an extraction of details were done on the two bank accounts statements of Chieshe and it was discovered that out of the total Twenty Nine Million, Thirty Four Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty Three Naira, Seventy Two kobo (N29,034,253.72) inflow that her Zenith Bank account received between January 2014 and February 2017, only Two Million, Ninety Four Thousand, Four Hundred and Thirty Three Naira, Seventy Two kobo (N2,094,433.72) were legitimate earnings that came in from JAMB in terms of salary, allowances and dividends from the cooperative society.
Ani then said a total of Twenty Six Million, Nine Hundred and Thirty Nine Thousand, Eight Hundred and Twenty Naira (N26, 939,820.00) were paid into the account by agents contracted by Chieshe to sell e-facility cards on her behalf.
While also giving the analysis of the second defendant’s Eco Bank account statement, the witness said a total inflow of One Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty Eight Thousand, Four Hundred and Eighty Naira (N1,768,480.00) were paid into the account by various agents who sold the JAMB e-facility cards on her behalf. He further revealed that there were no transfer made to Jamb’s revenue account as remittance, instead almost all the monies were withdrawn through ATM.
However, till date, Nigerians are yet to know the fate of the clerk and the suppose accomplices. This has led to permutations that the issue has been compromised and swept under the carpet. Some school of thought also believe that it’s a case of delayed litigation. Recall that in 2021, Vice President Osinbajo had frowned at delayed litigations in Nigeria. He described the issue of delays in the judicial process as the ‘elephant in the room’, and wondered what would happen to the country’s legal profession in “another 50 years given the gridlock in processing cases through the courts and the question of the integrity of the legal process, or better still, the integrity of actors in the legal process in Nigeria.”
Monkeys Swallowed N70 Million naira
In February 2018, a then serving Senator Shehu Sani, stated that a sum of N70 million, which was given to the Northern Forum of Senators, was swallowed by monkeys at Senator Abdullahi Adamu farm.
Sani made the revelation shortly after Adamu was deposed as chairman of the Northern Senators Forum. Sani, told newsmen that under Adamu’s leadership, the forum could not account for part of the money inherited from the 7th Assembly.
“There are some things that some of my colleagues cannot say but I’m not used to holding back what is the truth. When we resumed as senators, Sen. Ahmed Lawan tendered the sum of N70 million to the 8th Senate. That N70 million was monies gathered by northern senators from the 7th senate. So it was handed over to the 8th senators from northern Nigeria under the 8th Senate.
“I think this country is becoming a huge joke. First of all it was the rodent that drove away the President and we now have snakes consuming about N36 million, and you now you have monkeys,” Sani said.
Adamu had reacted by noting that “In order to give a dog a bad name, they now went to say that they had N70m that I mismanaged or whatever. The NSF, to the best of my knowledge, has never had N70m, at least not during my tenure that they purported it was mismanaged.”
However, the issue was swept under the carpet as the nation’s anti-graft agencies did not make any move to probe the alleged missing funds. This is even as Adamu has emerged as the National Chairman of the ruling APC.
Gorilla swallowed N6.8 million naira in Kano zoo
In 2019, a gorilla was accused of swallowing N6.8 million in the Kano Zoological Gardens.
The finance officer, according to radio station in the state, Freedom Radio, said the gorilla “sneaked into their office” and carted away the money before swallowing it.
The managing director of the zoo, Umar Kobo, confirmed that the money is missing and that the issue was being investigated.
“The issue is under investigations for now and I don’t want to say anything on the matter, many journalists have come to meet me but I don’t want to talk anything. What I can confirm is that money is missing,” he told the BBC Pidgin.
It was also that 10 persons, including those on duty when the money went missing, have been arrested.
However, three years after, Nigerians are yet to know the fate of the individuals that were arrested in connection to the missing funds. This has led to permutations that the issue has been swept under carpet.
Termites Ate NSITF Vouchers of N17.1bn Spending
In August 2022, the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund has told the Senate that termites have eaten most of the vouchers containing details of how N17.158 billion yet to be accounted for was spent.
As stated in the 2018 audit report, the N17.158 billion was the total amount of money transferred by NSITF from its Skye Bank and First Bank accounts into various untraceable accounts belonging to individuals and companies from January to December 2013. The auditor-general’s office had in the 2018 audit report raised 50 different queries bordering on alleged misappropriation of funds by management of the agency, which is under probe by the Senate committee on Public Accounts.
The report queried that “Management of NSITF as shown in statements of Account No. 1750011691 with Skye bank plc., for the period 1st January, 2013 to 20th December, 2013, and Statements of Account No.2001754610 with First Bank Plc. for the period 7th January, 2013 to 28th February, 2013, transferred amounts totaling N 17,158,883,034.69billion to some persons and companies from these accounts”.
The senate committee chairman, Senator Urhoghide, had ordered those involved in the jaw-dropping scandal to reappear before the committee with all the requested evidential documents unfailingly on September 22, 2022. However, many Nigerians worry that this may be swept under the carpet as common in the society.