EFCC Probes Zamfara Gov, Matawalle Over N70bn Fraud
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says the outgoing Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, is being investigated over allegations of monumental corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70 billion.
The Director, Public Affairs of the Commission, Osita Nwajah, made this known on Thursday after the outgoing Governor criticized EFCC’s investigation of State Governors and alleged corruption in the Agency’s handling of assets disposal and plea bargain processes.
According to him, a reason why the Commission has not arrested Governor Matawalle is that he enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution while in office.
Governor Matawalle had questioned the motive of the EFCC for investigating outgoing governors, demanding that similar invitations be extended to Officers of the Presidency and members of the Federal Executive Council, which is the highest tier of Government in the country. He further accused EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, of corruption, breach of public trust and abuse of office, saying he has evidence against him.
Alleged N70 Billion Diversion By Governor Matawalle
“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.
“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 Dollars 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 N6billion on a N10billion 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 N300million 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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