ABUJA, Nigeria -- Nigeria has arrested the country’s accountant-general, accusing him of diverting millions of dollars from government coffers.
Ahmed Idris was arrested “in connection with diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of N80 billion ($192.4 million),” the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said in a statement Monday.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy but its development has been hampered by endemic corruption, say experts. Many public officials are being prosecuted for alleged corruption, some long after leaving office.
As Nigeria’s accountant-general, Idris administered the state treasury and oversaw government accounts. The financial crimes agency said its intelligence showed that he “raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.”
“The funds were laundered through real estate investments,” the agency said. It added that Idris did not answer its requests for him to respond to the charges, prompting his arrest. He has not yet been arraigned in court.
Prosecutors did not say when Idris allegedly diverted the funds. Idris has served as Nigeria's accountant-general since 2015 when he was appointed by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. The Associated Press could not immediately get a reaction from him to the allegations.
Buhari, in power since 2015, has vowed to fight corruption but he has been accused of condoning some who have been engaged in graft. In April, he pardoned more than 150 convicts including two former governors jailed for corruption.