The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it is currently probing Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, for “N70bn fraud”.
The anti-graft agency also confirmed that a former Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, who was recently arrested by the operatives of the commission over alleged N22bn fraud is still in detention.
Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Abdulrasheed Bawa, made the disclosure at a press briefing on Thursday, urging Nigerians not to be swayed by Matawalle’s recent outburst.
Th governor had levelled allegations against Bawa and dared the commission to go after members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet.
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But Bawa, who spoke through the Director of Public Affairs of the commission, Osita Nwajah, explained that the agency was not supposed to dignify Matawalle with a response but it did in order to set the record straight.
He said the governor diverted the money through proxies and contractors who received payment for contracts that were not executed.
The anti-graft agency boss told reporters that the commission’s investigations so far revealed that more than 100 companies had received payments from the funds, with no evidence of service rendered to the state.
According to him, 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.
The governor had levelled allegations against Bawa and dared the commission to go after members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet.
However, in a swift reaction, the minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed played down the Matawalle’s call, saying it is his opinion.
But Bawa, who spoke through the Director of Public Affairs of the commission, Osita Nwajah, said, “These claims ought not to be dignified with a response. What is at play here is a pure case of corruption fighting back. Matawalle’s outburst is product of paranoia- an uncomfortable exertion arising from the heat of EFCC’s lawful activities.
“However, for the sake of some gullible citizens who might be swayed by the governor’s sudden burst of crusading zest, a measured response has become imperative to expose Matawalle’ outburst for what it is, a hollow gambit to deflect attention from the real issue.
“The real issue with Matawalle is that he is being investigated by the EFCC, over allegation of monumental corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70billion.”
The anti-corruption czar explained that the issue had nothing to do with the transparency of EFCC’s asset recovery and disposal process, adding that contrary to the claims by Matawalle, the Commission supervised an asset disposal exercise that was widely acclaimed as the most transparent in the country’s history.
He told journalists that proceeds of the open and transparent exercise have since been remitted into the coffers of the Federal Government, and are being deployed in the provision of infrastructure for Nigerians.
“It is intriguing that Matawalle would want to take on the role of a supervisor, who tells the EFCC whom to investigate. Is this a case of a “’thief’’ saying he must not be touched until other ‘’thieves’’ are caught?
“Unfortunately, it is not within Matawalle’s remit to dictate to the EFCC whom to arrest, when and where. Suspects in the custody of the Commission cut across all sectors and social class.
“The qualification to get a space in the Commission’s detention facility, is to commit a crime. It does not matter whether you are a priest, Imam, Governor or minister.
“Currently, a former minister of power is in the custody of the EFCC over a N22billion corruption allegation. That conveniently did not attract Matawalle’s attention.
“Of course, these shenanigans are not strange. They appear to play out in cycles, particularly when the nation is in political transition. Virtually all the predecessors of the incumbent EFCC chairman suffered similar indignity at the hands of politically exposed persons under investigation for corruption.
“Who among the former chairmen of the Commission was not accused of pilfering recovered assets? The Commission would like to put the nation on notice to expect more of the kind of wild allegations made by Matawalle as those at the receiving end of EFCC’s investigations, fight viciously back.
He also confirmed that a former Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, who was recently arrested by the operatives of the commission over alleged N22bn fraud is still in detention, urging Nigerians not to be swayed with Matawalle’s recent outburst.