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Exposed: How ex-Gov. Yari colluded with Accountant-General Idris in alleged N84 billion fraud

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PREMIUM TIMES has obtained fresh details of how a former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, allegedly conspired with embattled Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, in an alleged N84 billion fraud currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Investigators looking into the case are also scrutinising disclosures that Mr Yari spent at least $700,000 of the N20billion he received from the problematic deal on a recent trip to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj.

Messrs Idris and Yari are being investigated for allegedly diverting N84 billion in public funds between February 2021 and November 2021. The former accountant-general was released on bail on Wednesday night while Mr Yari remains in detention as his interrogation continues.

Those familiar with the matter have now told PREMIUM TIMES that the diverted funds were part of the 13% derivation funds meant for payment to eight oil-producing states.

But rather than use officials at his office to compute payments due to each of the nine states, Mr Idris allegedly awarded an N84 billion consultancy to a certain Gbenga Akindele, said to be the managing director of Westgate Projects Limited.

In executing what anti-graft officials described as “high-wired fraud”, Mr Idris colluded with Mr Yari, some officials of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and some officials of the affected states who combined to share the corrupt proceeds of the bogus consultancy.

Our sources said after Mr Akindele was paid N84 billion for the suspicious consultancy, he proceeded to distribute it to his backers.

PREMIUM TIMES cannot immediately reach Mr Akindele for comment as his company does not appear to have an official website.

Also, an Internet search for the firm’s social media accounts or those of its workers was unsuccessful as the company has nearly zero digital footprints.

But findings showed that the firm is not a stranger to Nigeria’s contracting system.

In fact, Mr Akindele’s Westgate Project Limited was one of those invited in 2016 by the House of Representatives during investigations into some failed railway contracts.

Sharing of the Money: Yari and Co.

According to sources, Mr Akindele kept one per cent of the money to himself while passing N22 billion to the accountant-general.

Mr Yari reportedly got N20 billion while some officials of RMAFC received N16billion. A yet-unknown amount of money was passed to some officials of the affected states.

Our sources said investigators are trying to determine that some top former and current officials of government also benefited from the loot.

Mr Yari received his own share of the money through one Anthony Yaro, said to be affiliated with an Abuja-based company, Finex Professionals Services. Officials of the EFCC believe Mr Yaro fronted for the ex-governor.

Meanwhile, investigators said Mr Yari spent $700,000, which amounts to N290 million of his own loot, on flights, hotels and other miscellaneous costs for this year’s lesser hajj to Saudi Arabia.

The former Zamfara Governor reportedly travelled to Middle Eastern country with tens of aides and cronies for the religious event, EFCC sources familiar with the investigation said.

However, the spokesperson for Mr Yari, Mayowa Oluwabiyi, declined to comment for this story when contacted on Thursday by our reporter.

“Since the EFCC is still investigating the matter, I would not speak further,” Mr Mayowa said.

This newspaper reported how EFCC agents arrested Mr Yari, a former chairperson of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, on Sunday at his residence in Abuja.

The former governor was nabbed a few days after he won APC’s ticket for Zamfara West senatorial election scheduled to hold next year.

Mr Yari: A regular EFCC customer

Mr Yari came under EFCC lenses again about a year after he was repeatedly held and questioned by the anti-graft agency over allegations he diverted billions in Zamfara funds kept in a bank.

Mr Yari was governor of Zamfara State, an impoverished Nigeria’s northwestern state, between 2007 and 2019. Under his reign, terrorist outlaws, commonly called bandits, started ravaging communities.

Mr Yari’s arrest on Sunday comes barely two months after he faced several hours of questioning by the agency’s operatives over corruption allegations in February.

PREMIUM TIMES reported in February that Mr Yari faced a long interrogation session with detectives at the Lagos office of the EFCC over an alleged attempt to illegally move N300 billion from a corporate account in a new generation bank.

13 per cent derivation fund
Since Nigeria’s Fourth Republic began in 1999, the eight oil and gas producing states have received over N9 trillion under the derivation principle sanctioned by the nation’s constitution.

The Nigerian constitution stipulates the payment of 13 per cent of oil revenue from the Federation Account to the states as a derivation fund.

In the last three years (2018-2020), in total, the oil-producing states have received N1.5 trillion from the Federation Account under the derivation principle, a PREMIUM TIMES analysis of data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed.

The analysis, however, reveals that intervention activities and physical developments in the oil-producing communities do not reflect the derivation fund received by their states due to mismanagement of funds.

Society

Perm Sec Denies Sexually Harassing Female Subordinate, Says, She Accused Me Because I Refused To Pay Her Bills.

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The permanent secretary of the federal ministry of foreign affairs, Ibrahim Lamuwa, says he is being accused of sexual harassment by Simisola Fajemirokun-Ajayi, an official of the ministry, because he refused her demands.

 

Recall that the minister of foreign affairs, Yusuf Tugga, had notified Folasade Yemi-Esan, the head of service of the federation (HoS), of the allegation.

 

In a letter to Yemi-Esan, the minister said it was necessary to communicate the development to her following the “gravity of the matter” after Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, wrote a petition to him.

 

However, in response to the allegation, Lamuwa said his failure to pay Ajayi’s bills on an official trip to Davos and refusal to grant her access to policy files and financial records of the ministry were the reasons why she accused him of sexual harassment.

 

The permanent secretary said he has never sexually harassed her but has maintained a professional relationship with all his subordinates.

 

“I have served for nine years cumulatively in the State House, in the Office of the Vice President, Chief of Staff to the President, and the exalted Office of the President at various times under Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, Mr. David Edevbie, Amb. Abdullahi Gwary, and lastly, Amb. Lawal Kazaure,” Lamuwa said.

 

“I received three letters of commendation at various times from the State House for meritorious service.

 

“On allegations of female directors being harassed, I have never had any incident with any female director in any hotel room, nor have I ever removed any female officers’ names from trips or postings because they refused to comply with any sexual demands.

 

“No four women or any number could have shared any alleged ordeal with me with her, as no such incidents have happened in the past, and it is untrue that any such common knowledge exists in the Ministry, as there is no basis for it.

 

“From the foregoing, I believe Mrs. Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi’s action might not be unconnected with my failure to pay her Davos bills or give her access to the Ministry’s policy files and financial records.

 

“For example, on 12th January, 2023, while in Davos, on a WhatsApp chat, she tried to know what I and the DFA were doing about the payment of the outstanding Nigerian Mission’s 1st Semester Allocation of about N12,957,103,477, claiming to know the Minister has spoken to the CBN Governor on the issue.

 

“In my response, I told her that Missions’ funding should not concern her, as it was being handled at the highest level. Her response was ‘Noted Sir. As directed by the Hon. Minister sir, does it concern Me?’. I wrote back to say, ‘I sorted that out with the HMFA yesterday’. And she said ‘thank you’. I knew she was angry with me about that.

 

“It is clear that there are two issues that have been worrying Mrs. Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi and were therefore waiting for any opportunity to get back at me.”

 

The permanent secretary added that they had exchanged jokes on many occasions in

the presence of other people.

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Society

Foreign Affairs Ministry Perm Sec, Lamuwa, Suspended Over Sexual Harassment Scandal

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The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Lamuwa has been suspended over allegation of sexually harassing a married female staff of the Ministry.

 

Recall that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, wrote to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan, over allegation of sexual harassment levelled against the Permanent Secretary.

 

One of the Minister’s aides, Mrs. Simisola Fajemirokun Ajayi, stated that Lamuwa sexually harrased her.

 

Lamuwa had served as Nigeria’s ambassador to the Republic of Senegal with concurrent accreditation to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania before his appointment as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

He joined the foreign service in 1993, was born in 1967, and hails from Funakaye Local Government Area of Gombe State.

 

In a letter dated May 27, Tuggar said he was compelled to write to inform the Head of Service of a formal complaint against Lamuwa on allegations of sexual harassment.

 

“Bearing in mind the gravity of the matter, I feel it necessary to draw your attention to it and ask that you handle it accordingly.

 

“Please find attached a copy of the complaint I received via email. May I also assure you that I remain available to provide you with any assistance required in discharging your responsibilities,” Tuggar wrote.

 

Source squealed that Lamuwa had been asked to step aside by the Office of the Head of Service.

 

He was given till Friday last week to vacate office and the immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to Cuba, Benaoyagha Okoyen, assumed office on Monda

y in acting capacity.

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Globacom commits to Ojude Oba 2024

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Digital solutions provider, Globacom, has declared its sponsorship of the Ojude Oba Festival for this year. The event holds in Ijebu Ode on Tuesday, June 18, 2024.

 

At the pre-event press conference held on the grounds of the Awujale’s Palace in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Globacom’s representative, Mr. Kazeem Kaka, stated that the company was dedicated to promoting Nigeria’s rich cultural legacy at all times.

 

He disclosed at the event that Globacom’s “sponsorship of festivals is aimed at identifying with the cultures and traditions of the Nigerian people, being an indigenous company. By sponsoring Ojude Oba and other Nigerian festivals with huge tourism potentials, such as Ofala of Onitsha Kingdom, Globacom is helping to promote the cause of tourism in the country”.

 

“Globacom’s collaboration with the custodians of this festival is in order to showcase the company’s interest in the cultural activities, traditions and events that bind the Nigerian people together as one geographic entity,” he stated, adding that Globacom is also showcasing other festivals with the vision of promoting the tourism potentials of Nigeria in that sector.

 

He stated that the company’s commitment to the nation’s unity is also expressed via the promotion of the customs and cultures of the people.

 

During the pre-festival press conference yesterday, Chief Olu Okuboyejo, the Chairman of the Ojude Oba Planning Committee, praised Globacom for its constant support of the historic celebration.

 

The event is mostly sponsored by Globacom, and this year’s edition, with the theme “Unity and Harmony in Ijebuland…The gift of Ojude Oba,” is the 18th. Glo is known for being the largest corporate supporter of traditional and cultural events in the nation.

 

Ojude Oba, which is celebrated yearly two days after the Islamic Eid El-Kabr celebration, is a social event that serves as a foundation for the promotion of the social, political, and economic growth of the Ijebu area.

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