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‘Over N2tr involved in Zamfara corruption petitions’

By Eric Meya (Sokoto) and Matthew Ogune (Abuja)
17 December 2019   |   3:33 am
Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Zamfara, Alhaji Bala Maru, said in Sokoto yesterday that going by the volume of petitions, about N2 trillion was in contention in the state

Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Zamfara, Alhaji Bala Maru, said in Sokoto yesterday that going by the volume of petitions, about N2 trillion was in contention in the state, but that over N200 billion mentioned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was the official figure.

Maru said this while at the EFCC North West Zonal office to take over 53 new tricycles recovered from a contractor by the EFCC.

The SSG, who stood in for Governor Bello Mutawalle, said the 53 tricycles were the 1,000 paid for by the immediate past state government at a cost of N1.2 billion.

He praised the anti-graft commission for the good job it was doing and assured of the state government’s readiness to cooperate and support the commission in its assignment.

The EFCC Zonal Head, Alhaji Abdullahi Lawal, who handed over the vehicles, said that the recovery “is the result of a painstaking and diligent investigation”.

According to him, “the commission is carrying out a clinical investigation into the activities of the last administration” and assured the people of the state that no stone would be left unturned to bring culprits to book.

Meanwhile, the EFCC, Gombe Zonal office, has arraigned four directors of the Gombe State Internal Revenue Service before Justice Nehizena Afolabi of the Federal High Court, Gombe, on a 25-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining by false pretense and money laundering.

The include Aishatu Yakubu (Executive Director, Administration, and Finance), Mohammed Musa Mohammed (Executive Director, Tax Operation), Wesley Audu (Executive Director, Tax and Audit) and Mijinyawa Labaran (Executive Director, Non-tax Operations).

The defendants allegedly conspired to pay themselves several allowances and benefits, which amounted to N47 million without approval. They also awarded fictitious contracts for which payments were released and diverted for their personal use.

The payments were made from the national number plate account of the board, meant for remittance into the state internally-generated revenue (IGR) account.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and the prosecution counsel applied to the court for a date to commence the trial.

But the defence counsel, Habu Abdu, sought the leave of the Court to move the bail application of his clients, which was granted by the Judge.

Justice Afolabi granted the defendants bail in the sum of N15 million each and two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties must be a blood relative of the defendant and the other a civil servant of level 14 or above. The sureties must also be resident within Gombe Metropolitan City and have landed properties with Certificate of Occupancy.

The case was adjourned till February 4, 2020 for trial.