SOKOTO — The Soko-to State government is set to prosecute the immediate past governor of the State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, his Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi and four others for alleged misappropriation of N2.919 billion.
The said amount was part of alleged illegal withdrawals by the then governor and his officers from the state/local government joint account and the state Education Resuscitation Committee’s account while in power.
In his reaction, yesterday, Alhaji Bafarawa said: “The present Governor Aliyu Wamakko was the Commissioner in charge of Local Governments for four years. Also, he was my deputy whom the House nearly removed for corrupt tendencies.
“If there were such illegal deductions and withdrawals, he should be in a better position to answer for them.
“He took the matter to EFCC but when he discovered that I might not be indicted that way, he quickly set up the committee of inquiry just to damage my reputation.
“In fact, for thorough investigation, he should have been invited. If there is anything I am to answer for, he too should answer with me,” he said.
The Sokoto State Commissioner of Justice, Inuwa Abdulkadir, told newsmen on Wednesday that the decision followed the acceptance of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry set up in September, last year by the present administration of Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko.
That commission was chaired by Alhaji Muhammad Aminu Ahmad with two commissioners— Alhaji Bello Mu’Azu and Alhaji Abubakar Gidado Abbas — while Alhaji Dahiru Balarabe Abbas served as Secretary.
Other alleged accomplices of the scam, according to the commission which looked into the books of the joint account of Sokoto State Pilgrim Welfare Agency and Ministry of Water Resources were — Alhaji Sambo Bello Danchadi (a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government), Alhaji Adamu Gurori (Director of Finance in the Office of the SSG), who were signatories to the joint account, the former Commissioner for Local Government, Alhaji Habibu Modachi, and a former Special Adviser, Alhaji Tukur Alkali.
The Minister of Justice said even though an earlier audit report had indicted the former chairman of the state Pilgrim Welfare Agency, Alhaji Usman Kwabo, the commission of inquiry could not do much on his case as he was said to have obtained an interim injunction from an Abuja High Court restraining the commission from summoning him.
“In the course of taking evidence on Pilgrim Welfare Agency, the commission was served with an order of interim injunction restraining the commission from compelling the former chairman, Pilgrim Welfare Agency, Alhaji Usman Kwabo to terstify before the commission pending the final determination of the suit he filed before that court against the commission,” he said.
“In view of this and for the fact that Alhaji Umaru Kwabo is a vital witness whose evidence is important in relation to the agency, the commission suspended further deliberations on Pilgrims Welfare Agency until the suit determined,” Abdulkadir said.
The government white paper on the commission of Inquiry showed that the joint account between the state government and the local governments was grossly abused.
Funds were allegedly repeatedly withdrawn from that account by fiat of the former governor to fund the Pilgrim Welfare Agency and other projects without due authorization of the local governments.
According to the Sate Joint Account Law of 2002 established a Joint Account Distribution Committee with the State Commissioner of Finance as Chairman, with all Local Government Chairmen as members.
Other members were the Auditor-General for Local Government and the Accountant-General of the State, while the Commissioner National Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (Representing the State) serves as an observer but, Abdulkadir Esq said the committee had met to perform its functions under the former governor.
That Committee should “ensure that allocation made to the local government councils in the state from the Federation Account and from the internally generated revenue of the state are promptly paid into the various local government council accounts” which was never the case.
The sultanate council was also said to have suffered deprivation under the for governor as the administration failed to remit the 3 per cent of funds accruing to the Joint Account to it in accordance to the sharing formula approved by the State House of Assembly.
A whooping N 904. 165 million was said to have been the shortfall which the former governor and others involved have been directed to refund to the council.
On specific withdrawals from the Joint Account, the commissioner of Justice said Alh Alkali withdrew N 343.715 million which he has been directed to refund to the account or be prosecuted before the Public Funds and Property (Recovery) panel.
Further, a company, Multi-Trade Global Concept was paid N937.500 million for the supply of Ultrasound Machines to the 23 local governments which was said to be outrageous and that even with 25 per cent profit margin, the total cost should have been N21.551 million.
The company was therefore directed to refund N84 .319 million.
According to Abdulkadir, the same was awarded another contract for the supply of Electrical Cooling System V120 KE to the 23 local governments but that it supplied “tokumbo fridges which coundn’t have cost more than N50,000 each”.
The government therefore directed it to refund a total of N253 million or face prosecution.