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We’re investigating Governor Matawalle for N70 billion fraud – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has revealed that Governor of Zamfara state, Bello Matawalle is under investigation over the theft of over N70 billion from the state.

EFCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Osita Nwajah made the disclosure while addressing pressmen at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Thursday.

This comes days after Matawalle publicly accused the anti-graft agency of bias and corrupt practices.

He had asked the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to step down and allow the commission to beam its searchlight on officials in President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and outgoing ministers.

The EFCC official, however, rejected allegations of bias in its prosecution of corruption cases.

The Commission, therefore, highlighted some findings regarding Matawalle’s involvement in what it describes as “monumental” corruption.

The EFCC stated that it tracked down more than 100 companies that received payments from the claimed funds but provided no evidence of service to the state.

Nwajah said; “The Commission would like to put the nation on notice to expect more of the kind of wild allegations made by Matawalle as those at the receiving end of EFCC’s investigations, fight viciously back.

“But the real issue with Matawalle is that he is being investigated by the EFCC, over allegations of monumental corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70 Billion.

“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 N6 billion on a N10 billion 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 had in the past had run-ins with state governors over allegations of theft of state monies. However, because the Nigerian constitution confers immunity on state governors from prosecution and punishment while in office, the anti-corruption agency will have to wait until such a state executive leaves office before taking action”.