Other former governors are being investigated – Source
According to information obtained by The PUNCH, Kayode Fayemi, a former governor of Ekiti State, is now being questioned at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s zonal command office in Ilorin, Kwara State, regarding an alleged N4 billion money laundering scheme.
Reliable sources with knowledge of the development revealed that Fayemi came at the EFCC premises on Thursday at around 9:40 am.
The PUNCH had previously reported how Fayemi, through his attorney Adeola Omotunde, SAN, begged the EFCC to let him give a book in honor of the late President Muhammadu Buhari on May 19 rather than honor the agency’s request for questioning regarding charges of money laundering.
On Thursday, a source confirmed the development, saying, “Fayemi came in our Kwara command headquarters at about 9:40 am today. He is currently being questioned by our agents for alleged N4 billion misappropriation.
“I’m uncertain as to whether he would be held today or released. He is not the only former governor under investigation by the committee, a different source said.
Wilson Uwujaren, the anti-graft agency’s spokesman, declined to comment on the development when reached.
Please understand that I’m unable to comment on that, Uwujaren stated.
According to The PUNCH, the EFCC requested the former governor of Ekiti appear before the head of its zonal command office in Kwara, Nigeria’s North-Central, to answer questions on money laundering activities, according to a letter dated May 12 that was obtained by The PUNCH.
The EFCC demanded that Mr. Fayemi appear before it on May 18 in a letter sent by its zone commander, Micheal Nzekwe.
According to the letter, “The commission is investigating a case of money laundering and has become urgently necessary to seek specific answers from you.
As a result, you are respectfully invited to attend an interview with the undersigned through the head of the section on economic governance. May 18, 2023, a Thursday. Off Station Road, GRA, No. 10 Oko Close, Ilorin, Kwara State. Time is 10:00 a.m.
However, Fayemi claimed in a follow-up letter via his attorney, Adeola Omotunde, SAN, dated May 15, which was seen by a reporter for The PUNCH, that he was one of the organizers and a reviewer of one of the books issued in honor of Buhari.
Mr. Fayemi’s attorney stated, “Our client is in receipt of your letter of invitation dated May 12, 2023 for an appointment on May 18, 2023.”
“Our client is engaged on the 18th day of May 2023 as he is preparing for a public presentation and launching of two new books in honor of President Muhammadu Buhari, titled: ‘State of Repair: How President Muhammadu Buhari Tried to Change Nigeria For Good’ by Anthony Goldman and ‘The Legacy of Muhammadu Buhari’ by Abu Ibrahim, scheduled for May 19th at the Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja by 10:00 a.m.
“Our customer will review one of the books and is one of the program’s organizers. Before he received your offer, our customer committed himself to other programs that would run from May 19, 2023, through May 24, 2023. In light of the aforementioned considerations, we regret to notify you that our client will be unable to accept your invitation on May 18, 2023.
The PUNCH was unable to contact Fayemi’s attorney on Thursday because the phone number we received from his letter was inactive.
In addition to Fáym, the EFCC has stated that it is also looking into Bello Matawalle, the former governor of Zamfara State, on charges of corruption, awarding fictitious contracts, and diverting more than N70 billion.
Following the recent attempt by the departing governor to throw doubt on the integrity of the agency’s fight against corruption, the EFCC claimed it was forced to make the development public.
Speaking on behalf of the agency’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, the EFCC’s Director of Media and Public Affairs, Osita Nwajah, made this announcement in May to journalists at the commission’s headquarters in Jabi, Abuja.
It is curious that Matawalle would seek to assume the position of a supervisor, instructing the EFCC who to look into, Nwajah remarked. Is this an instance of a ‘thief’ demanding that he not be touched until other ‘thieves’ are apprehended?
“The true problem with Matawalle is that the EFCC is looking into him on charges of massive corruption, awarding fictitious contracts, and diverting over N70 billion.
“The money was allegedly siphoned by the governor through proxies and contractors who received payment for contracts that were not carried out. The money was sourced as a loan from an old generation bank purportedly for the execution of projects across the local government areas of the state.
“According to the commission’s findings to date, more than 100 businesses received payments from the funds despite their being no proof that they provided any services to the state. Startling discoveries about how they were reportedly forced by the governor to return the monies acquired from the state coffers back to him through his aides after converting them to US dollars were made by some of the contractors who were invited and questioned by the commission.
They acknowledged that they provided no services to the Zamafara State but claimed to have been given instructions to exchange the money paid to them for US dollars and return it to the governor of the state via some of his commissioners, particularly the commissioners in charge of Finance and Local Government Affairs.
Nwajah claims that one of the contractors, a well-known Abuja real estate developer, took N6 billion on a N10 billion contract without providing any service to Zamfara State.
He pointed out that although another contractor had received almost N3 billion for a contract to supply medical equipment, the commission had tracked N400 million from his account to a Bureau de Change operator.
The contractor acknowledged that the money was paid to buy the equivalent in dollars for the state governor.
The commission has “recovered a sum of N300m from a company, Fezel Nigeria Limited, as part of the broad examination into contracts issued by the Matawalle administration, mainly for phantom projects in the local government areas. The Zamafara Investment Company was where the money was found.
“The EFCC investigation is causing worry in Government House, Gusau, with the governor living in fear of what would happen to him after he leaves office on May 29.
“In Nigeria, state governors and their deputies enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution while in office, a reason why the EFCC has yet to arrest Governor Matawalle,” he continued.
Yahaya Bello, a former governor of Kogi State, is also being investigated by the EFCC for suspected corruption involving 14 properties, including ones in Nigeria and overseas, and N400 million, among other things.
“The properties, including Hotel Apartment Community, Burj Khalifa lying, being and situate at, Plot 160 Municipality NO 345-7562, Sky View Building No 1, Property No 401, Floor 4, Dubai U.A.E., were reasonably suspected to have been derived from unlawful activity,” the anti-graft agency stated in a statement our correspondent obtained in May.