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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

Despite his “expulsion”, ADC presidential candidate, Kachikwu, makes INEC list

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Mr Kachikwu was expelled from the party last Friday by the Ralph Nwosu-led NWC.

The embattled presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dumebi Kachikwu, has been named among candidates validly nominated by political parties for the 2023 presidential election despite his “expulsion” from the party.

Mr Kachikwu was among the 18 presidential candidates approved by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday.

The Ralph Nwosu-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party announced the expulsion of Mr Kachikwu from the party last Friday for alleged anti-party activities.

He was expelled along with seven other key party leaders following the recommendation of a seven-member disciplinary committee earlier set up by the ADC NWC. The NWC had earlier on 2 September placed the presidential candidate on suspension.

Mr Nwosu, in a statement issued late Friday, said the disciplinary committee found Mr Kachikwu guilty of allegations of gross misconduct, and gross violations of its constitution, among others.

But in its reaction the following day, the interim leadership of the ADC dismissed Mr Kachikwu’s purported expulsion.

The interim National Chairman of the Party, Patricia Akwashiki, in a statement, described the action of the erstwhile chairman, Mr Nwosu, as the antics of a sinking man clutching at straws.

The crisis rocking the ADC has its genesis in the call for the resignation of the national chairman by 27 state chairmen of the party, having spent 17 years in the office.

At the time of filing this report, we could not confirm if the party’s leadership had made formal or legal requests to the commission to remove the candidate from the list.

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Stella Obasanjo’s brother, John Abebe, arraigned for fraud

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Dr. John Abebe, the younger brother of a former First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, was on Monday arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday before the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja over allegations of fraud.

Abebe was arraigned alongside a former Head of Firstbank Plc, United Kingdom Correspondent Office, Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, before Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe on six charges of conspiracy, stealing, and obtaining money under pretence.

Part of the counts against the defendants read: “That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; stealing the sum of N120 million worth of property of Arsenal Technologies Limited.”

“That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; obtaining by false pretence the sum of N120 million property of Arsenal Technologies Limited under the pretence that your property lying being and situate at 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos State, which you pledged as the security to the Arsenal Technologies Limited was unencumbered, which representation you knew to be false.”

“That you Dr. John Abebe and Inducon Nigeria Limited, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and to gain for yourself the sum of $1,000,000.00 or its Naira equivalent from Arsenal Technologies Limited by false pretence to procure the execution of valuable security to wit; a deed of assignment between Inducon Nigeria Limited and Arsenal Technologies Limited, wherein you falsely claimed that the property lying being and situate at No. 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos was unencumbered and that you have full powers to assign and transfer the said property to the assignor; Arsenal Technologies Limited.

According to EFCC, the offences committed are contrary to Sections 280(1), (12), 8 (7), 285(1) and 278(1)(b) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following their plea, the prosecutor, Sulaimon urged the court to fix a trial date and to remand the defendants in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services until the hearing and determination of the charge.

However, the defense counsel, Anthony Popo and Sam Etaifo urged the court to grant their clients bail in the most liberal terms.

While moving the bail application on behalf of Abebe, Popo told the judge that the matter before her is a commercial transaction between the first defendant and the nominal complainant, which he is ready to settle out of court.

He also claimed that Abebe had paid back the sums of $100,000 and N30 million to the complainant and had also deposited the title document of 26 acres of land and the documents of a property in London to show his seriousness to resolve the matter.

The lawyer further submitted that the defendant would not jump bail since he never violated the terms of the administrative bail granted to him by the EFCC.

The prosecutor did not oppose the application but urged the court to impose stringent terms that will ensure the defendant’s appearance in court for their trial.

In her ruling, Justice Abike-Fadipe granted the first defendant bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum.

She directed that the surety must be a resident of Lagos and must deposit the title document of a land property whose value must not be less than N20m

The judge also admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum, who must be a resident of the state.

Justice Abike-Fadipe further ordered that the defendant shall continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted to them by the EFCC but if they failed after seven days to perfect the terms of the bail she granted them, they shall be arrested and remanded in prison.

She adjourned the case to December 6 for commencement of trial.

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HIGHGARDEN CELEBRATES WORLD CLEANUP DAY

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The Eleko Beach stretching over 5km was cleaned on the 17th of September 2022 by Volunteers from HighGarden Private Beach Club to celebrate the world Cleanup day.

World Cleanup Day is an annual global social action program aimed at combating the global solid waste problem, including the problem of marine debris. It is coordinated by the global organization Let’s Do It! World.

 

According to the MD of Highgarden Mr Wale Ewedemi “Environmental cleanliness and awareness is key to our values as a lifestyle brand, so we use the world Cleanup day to indoctrinate our customers and friends into one of our core lifestyle values”

 

The event that started at 9am rounded up about noon. Plastics and debri Collected were separated and marked for pickup.

 

The HighGarden Private Beach Club in Eleko boast of the first Glamping site in Nigeria.

@highgardenprivatebeach

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