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N27m drama: My story, by Bozimo

Posted by By IKENNA EMEWU on 2008/05/18 | Views: 1726 |

N27m drama: My story, by Bozimo


Former Police Affairs Minister in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo has been in the eye of the storm over media reports linking him with money sharing while in office.

•It is spurious to link me with loot sharing


Former Police Affairs Minister in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo has been in the eye of the storm over media reports linking him with money sharing while in office.

If that makes him feel annoyed, what really agitates him is that the story was published on a day his son wedded. He sees it as a ploy deliberately cooked by someone to spoil his joy on that day. After counting the cost of the allegations and what he said were unfounded testaments against his person, he feels he could no longer keep quiet but speak up.

He did not wait for any invitation by the law enforcement before he went to the ICPC office in the company of his son, a lawyer, to intimate the agency on what actually happened to N27m allegedly shared in his ministry.

"The story carries the impression that I supervised the sharing of N27m and in the process got a lion share of N17m to myself while the rest shared the remainder. That wicked fabrication is just what I want Nigerians to get right", he said.


The real gist
But for the grace of God, I would have been a dead man in 2006 when I was hit by a deadly ailment. It was like being at the end of the road. That is why I feel bad about the story. I was hit by a fatal cancer – cancer of the colon. I had to undergo series of surgeries. The first of the four major surgeries lasted nine hours at the London Clinic where some number of doctors battled to save my life.
The money in question is no issue at all, and cannot compare with the issue of my health, although there is no fact to the claims because no money was shared, at least to my knowledge. What transpired in the spending of part of the money is what I want to let Nigerians know.

When the symptoms became unbearable, I had to complain to the president, Chief Obasanjo that I needed adequate medical attention.

He expeditiously approved money for a trip to London for the treatment. Anybody who knows how government functions would agree that it takes time from period of approval of a memo for the money to come. So my ministry knew that waiting for the money to come from the Ministry of Finance would have proved counter productive because life was involved. The most logical thing was to look for money from the most available source. That available source was N27m leftover from N557m allocated to the ministry from the Bayelsa State Government for the procurement of arms to empower the police fight the threatening security problems of that area a little after Governor Goodluck Jonathan came to power. That money was routed to the Ministry of Police Affairs because the procedure does not allow money meant for such bulk arms purchase to be handled directly by the Nigeria Police.

So, the ministry decided that while the wait for the money from Finance Ministry lasted after the presidential approval I had to travel. The same amount approved and being awaited was borrowed from the leftover (N27m). With that I travelled and carried out the surgery. It was some days before the end of the government that the finance ministry was mandated to release the money by the president, which was later brought back into the Police ministry coffers as replacement.


How rumour broke
Sometime this year, the company that handled the arms supply, Sigma Securities, petitioned the ICPC complaining that it was shortchanged of N27m in the deal. It was in the course of this complaint that allegation were made on what happened to the N27m.

Bozimo clarified that the security company that supplied the arms was fully paid, but maybe felt it was cheated when the total amount disbursed by the Bayelsa Government was made known. In response to this claim allegedly by the security company, ICPC wrote the Ministry of Police Affairs demanding explanation on what happened to the N27m.

The ministry through the Permanent Secretary replied and explained in a memo signed by I. M. Tumsah, Deputy Director (Accounts) that:


It was a loan
"On assumption of office by the then Governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, he approved the release of N557m for the purchase of arms and ammunition to enable the Nigeria Police Force cope with the myriad of security challenges that the state was facing. Following this gesture, Mr. President directed that the money be released to the Ministry of Police Affairs so that the necessary formal machinery be set in motion for proper procurement of the items in line with due process.

The Ministry of Police Affairs accordingly followed all the formalities and other procedures and eventually awarded the contract for the supply of the arms and ammunition to Messers Sigma Security Nigeria Limited. The contract was executed and duly certified and payment made through a letter of credit by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

After all the necessary payments had been effected, there was an outstanding balance of N27 million from the amount donated by the Bayelsa State Government. This was after the sum of N524,429,000 had been paid into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to finance the letter of credit in favour of Messrs Sigma Security for the importation of arms and ammunition as well as the sum of N5,571,000 to Ideal Insurance as insurance cover for the transaction".


ICPC visits
The letter continued: "Sometime in January, 2008, two officers from ICPC came to my office with a letter addressed to the Hon. Minister inviting one of my officers to their office. I declined to release the officer because the right channel had not been followed in demanding for the officer’s presence at ICPC. I accordingly advised that due process be followed to effect the release of the officer for interrogation. The ICPC officers did not seem to take this advice kindly. In clear demonstration of that, they reappeared about two months later, armed with arrest warrant of both the officer, Mr. Akindele J. O and myself. They alleged that I obstructed the performance of their duties when they initially came to the Ministry.

At the ICPC office, Mr. Akindele and I were informed that the Commission was investigating the former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero and that we were required to brief them on the supplies and payments made in respect of the N557 million donated by the Bayelsa State Government. I drew their attention to the fact that I would only brief them on payment made in respect of the supplies.
I was directed by the officials of ICPC to write a statement. I indicated that after the payment for Letter of Credit and insurance cover, referred to above, a balance of N27m was left. Out of that amount the sum of N17m was released as loan to finance the treatment of the then Hon. Minister, Alowei B. Bozimo.

It should be noted that there was a presidential approval, which had not been cash-backed.
Since the Minister’s condition was life threatening, the "loan" was advanced on humanitarian grounds. It was to be refunded as soon as Mr. President’s approval was cash backed by the Federal Ministry of Finance. From the balance of N10m, the sum of N7m was issued as IOU for various functions of the Ministry which has been recovered now. The remaining sum of N2,993,99.00 which was cash balance in the Central Pay Office (CPO) of the Ministry, was taken away by the Officers of the ICPC and is currently in their custody.
Above is the situation report for your kind noting, please".


Bozimo clears the air
On March 18, the former minister wrote a memo explaining what he knew about the allegation of money sharing.

He said: I categorically deny demanding or receiving the sum of N17m as share of monies with an alleged deal. It was a notorious affair that I was very ill sometime in 2006 and received medical treatment abroad at government expenses as I was entitled under the terms of my service as a minister".
He also attached to this memo documents showing the money he got for his medical treatment abroad were duly approved by the right authorities.

Another memo from the presidency dated September 19, 2006, specifically from the office of the Secretary to the Federal Government wrote a reply to an earlier letter of the minister in reference number MPA/P.4013/68 of the same date indicated an approval of the president for a medical treatment of the minister abroad at gov ernment expenses. It was signed by T. K. Kasali, Director (Planning, Research and Statistics) for the SGF.

It was on May 17, about twelve days to the end of the tenure of the former government that the Ministry of Police Affairs wrote a reminder memo to the President demanding the refund of the money in question. The ministry’s Director of Accounts, I. M. Tumsah endorsed the reminder.
On the same date, in a manner that signified that the government never wanted it spill over to the next government gave an approval for refund of the money.

A tortuous journey

At his home in Effurun, Warri, the former Minister who now looks healthy took pains explain the ordeal he was through to set aside the health crisis that befell him. "It was the special grace of God, and nothing more that saved me. Mr. President acted on time, and I travelled for the tortuous battery of surgeries. It came in phases.

The first was to cut out the section of my large intstine that was already affected by cancer. The next was by-passing the colon to another channel for proper function until that cut out segment heals. After the healing, another surgery was done to reverse the colon to the normal track. While this complex surgery lasted, I had to carry an external sort of stomach called stoma for digestion. In one of the numerous trips abroad, the stoma ruptured at the Nnnadi Azikiwe airport when I was about boarding the flight, I was rushed back to a clinic in Abuja while my trip was put off.

All these were like the beginning because the most painful aspect of the surgery was the chemotherapy. I underwent two surgeries to have a chemical ball planted in my chest, above the heart to burn off the cancerous cells. The next implant was at my neck". He unbottoned his kaftan to show the scars of the surgery. These were done at the London Oncology Clinic.

The chemotherapy process proved to be a ruthless ordeal where the burning of the cancerous cells spilled over to the indiscriminate decimation of all cells in the body. As a result, Bozimo said he lost all the hair on his head and got so frail and emaciated that it took almost a year after the last treatment for him to come back to normal.

Because he that feels it really knows it, Bozimo felt the real pains human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi(SAN) went through. He said "I know what my senior colleague passed through. It is a harrowing experience. That is why I called and spoke with him. I encouraged him to be strong and look up to God for healing because the pains are so much. It really makes me feel bad that someone used such a touchy issue about my life for cheap politics. There is no doubt my being ill and undergoing treatment abroad. I travelled with my wife every twelve days for close to a year during this ordeal. But I give God thanks for sparing my life".

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