Almost a week after operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) nabbed the embattled Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, for allegedly diverting N80bn from the country’s coffer, tongues are still wagging, with many Nigerians expressing shock over the startling revelation of the anti-graft body.
The anti-graft agency’s operatives had on Monday picked up Idris while on his way to Kano after he had failed to honour several invitations extended to him.
As of Friday, the top government official was still with the crack detectives of the commission answering various questions bordering on money laundering and diversion of public funds. The commission alleged that Idris had laundered the money through landed property acquired in various places.
Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that the embattled public servant acquired not less than 5 properties in the ancient city of Kano. Others were reported scattered in Lagos, Abuja, Dubai and London.
One of the property allegedly belonging to Idris include the famous Al-Ikhlas Supermarket situated at Daneji in Kano city, which was being expanded through acquisition of adjoining houses.
It was reliably gathered that Idris has bought different property within the ancient city, where he is already converting some of them to private schools and hospitals.
A resident of Daneji, who spoke to our correspondent anonymously, said when it comes to buying lands, Idris usually offers a higher price than the prevailing market price, making him the preferred buyer.
Further findings also revealed that the suspended AGF has different houses at Gandu quarters worth millions of Naira.
In the same vein, Daily Trust on Sunday reports that his multi-million naira houses at Ladanai GRA, also in Kano, have also generated curiosity and raised questions on the legality of the AGF’s income as well as his spending spree.
Apart from other property acquired in different areas, checks by our correspondent also revealed that one of the properties being used by his venture, Gezawa Commodity and Exchange Market, located in Gezawa Local Government Area of the State, was valued at N4.5bn.
The market was granted operational license to commence operation in 2021 by the Nigeria Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).
A visit to the market showed that the market was designed in three phases on an eight hectare land for the first phase. Daily Trust on Sunday observed that the first phase has already been completed as business had since commenced.
Idris had at a time disclosed that the land on which the commodity exchange market was situated, is family land he inherited and further acquired other lands within the area to develop the market.
It was initially believed that the venture is a private sector-led initiative, the first of its kind in Nigeria. The market is said to be the largest commercial one-stop hub for both domestic and export markets for international standard agro commodities in Nigeria integrated with a trading platform.
In 2020, when he received members of Kano Concern Citizens Initiative in his office, the suspended official said he nurtured the idea of developing the market since 2014 in order to develop agricultural enterprises and other businesses in the state.
“This is the largest commercial one-stop hub, it is a strategy to actualize the goal of self-reliance, economic diversification and development of this country,” he had described the investment.
Some Nigerians, both online and offline expressed anger over the allegations against the AGF, saying they were actually shocked about Idris’ audacity to have taken such a huge amount of money out of Nigeria’s coffer.
They premised their concerns upon the present situation of universities and polytechnics’ teachers who had always been at loggerheads with the accountant-general because of the introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) for the payment of federal workers’ salaries.
A lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Malam Kabiru Danladi, in an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, said Nigerians might be shocked but members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were not in any way surprised because they had uncovered this since.
“Nigerians might be surprised but we, members of ASUU are not surprised because we had uncovered his sharp practices where he was using IPPIS to siphon public funds, and we had since made this public,” Danladi said.
In the same view, President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, in an exclusive interview with this newspaper on Tuesday, disclosed that apart from the fact that IPPIS has been shortchanging ASUU members by the IPPIS, many of them are still being owed salaries ranging between 8 to 13 months.
“We have said it over and over again that IPPIS is a fraud. We have also said that the Accountant-General office is a fraud, and they are just using IPPIS to relocate all the fraud activities to one centre which is the Accountant-General office and we have been vindicated. That is our position.
“This IPPIS, I can tell you as we speak, says that many of our members have not been paid for 13 months, 8 months, 9 months but they are telling the government that they are using it to control corruption,” Osodeke had said.
The federal government had on Wednesday announced the suspension of the embattled accountant-general with a view to allowing a thorough investigation.
In a letter conveying Idris’ suspension, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed warned the embattled public official not to visit the office at any time.
According to her, the accountant-general’s suspension was in line with the public service rules.
“Following your recent arrest by EFCC on allegations of diversion of funds and money laundering, I write to convey your suspension from work without pay effective May 18, 2022,” the letter partly read.
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