Zamfara Governor Embezzles N70bn– EFCC

Aminat Gusanu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has accused the Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Muhammed Matawalle, of embezzling a staggering 70 billion naira from the state treasury.

PLATFORM TIMES gathered that EFCC made the accusation on Thursday.

EFCC’s Director Public Affairs, Osita Nwajah, stated that the governor is under investigation that bordered on contract fraud and diversion of funds meant for the execution of projects in the local government areas of the state to the tune of N70 billion.

The governor had on Tuesday, accused EFCC chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa of being corrupt, especially in the handling of assets disposal and plea bargain processes.

But the anti-graft agency stated that there is no truth in Matawalle’s allegation.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, Nwajah said Matawalle’s outburst is a product of paranoia – an uncomfortable exertion arising from the heat of EFCC’s lawful activities.

The anti-graft agency gave detailed account of how the governor siphoned state funds through 100 companies using non-existing contracts.

The EFCC said: “Matawalle is being investigated by the EFCC, over allegation of monumental corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70 billion.

“The money which was sourced as loan from an old generation bank purportedly for the execution of projects across the local government areas of the state, was allegedly diverted by the governor through proxies and contractors who received payment for contracts that were not executed.

Osita Nwajah, Director Public Affairs of EFCC “The Commission’s investigations so far reveal that more than 100 companies have received payments from the funds, with no evidence of service rendered to the state. Some of the contractors who had been invited and quizzed by the Commission, made startling revelations on how they were allegedly compelled by the governor to return the funds received from the state coffers back to him through his aides after converting the same to United States Dollars.

“They confirmed that they did not render any service to Zamafara State but were allegedly directed to convert the monies paid to them into United States Dollar and return to the State governor through some of his commissioners, notably the Commissioners in charge of Finance and Local Government Affairs.

“One of the contractors, a popular Abuja property developer, collected N6 billion on a N10 billion contract without rendering any service to Zamfara State. Another contractor collected over N3 billion for a contract for the supply of medical equipment but the commission traced a payment of N400 million from his account to a Bureau de Change operator. The contractor confessed the payment was to procure the dollar equivalent allegedly for the state governor.

“As part of the extensive investigation of contracts awarded by the Matawalle administration, especially for phantom projects in the local government areas, the Commission has recovered a sum of N300 million from a company, Fezel Nigeria Limited. The funds were traced to the Zamafara Investment Company.

“The EFCC investigation is the source of anxiety in Government House, Gusau, with the governor in mortal dread of his fate once he steps down as governor on May 29. In Nigeria, state governors and their deputies enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution while in office, a reason the EFCC has yet to arrest Governor Matawalle.”

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