Oladipo Okpeseyi, lawyer to Sadiya Umar-Farouq, the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, has refuted claims that his client intentionally avoided an invitation from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Umar-Farouq is currently under investigation by the EFCC for an alleged N37 billion fraud that occurred during her tenure at the ministry from 2019 to 2023.
On Thursday, the EFCC publicly demanded that the former minister surrender herself “without further delay” after reports surfaced that she had disregarded their summons.
However, Okpeseyi countered this narrative, explaining that Umar-Farouq’s absence was due to legitimate health concerns. He emphasized that his client is fully prepared to cooperate with the EFCC and will answer their questions as soon as she recovers.
Okpeseyi further clarified that Umar-Farouq’s invitation stemmed from a request for “clarifications into certain expenditures by some agencies under her ministry,” not accusations of direct misappropriation of funds.
He specified that the EFCC’s investigation focuses on the financial activities of two independent agencies under the humanitarian affairs 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 an 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,” Okpeseyi stated.
He added, “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 concluded by reiterating that Umar-Farouq has not evaded the EFCC’s investigation and is committed to providing any necessary information to assist their inquiries.
The situation surrounding Umar-Farouq’s alleged involvement in the N37 billion fraud remains unresolved, and further developments are expected as the EFCC investigation progresses.