The Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Mustapha Muhammad Inuwa, the Commissioner of Local Government Affairs, and other government functionaries have allegedly misappropriated the sum of 52, 686, 869, 248.00 (Fifty two billion, six hundred and eighty six million, eight hundred and sixty thousand, two hundred and fourth eight naira) from the state’s security votes.
According to a document submitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the monies which accrued between June 2015 and April 2020 totaling N52 billion, were domiciled in Escrow Security Accounts at United Bank For Africa (UBA) PLC – Account number KTSG1019265062 and Fidelity Bank PLc Katsina Account No – KTSG-5030113060.
Chairman Dialogue Group, Alhaji Muhammad Mahdi Shehu, who made available the documents indicting Governor Masari and men to Journalists in Kaduna, revealed that rather than use the monies judiciously, Masari and his cronies embarked on frivolous withdrawals and also went on extravagant spending spree.
According to Shehu, Governor Masari and some of his aides, especially the commissioner for Local Government Affairs, under the pretext of attending the All Progressives Congress, APC national convention in June this year in Abuja, withdrew the sum of N500 million from the security votes, pointing out that three hundred and forty- five million naira was withdrawn from the security account domiciled at Fidelity Bank PLC, Katsina on the 29 of April 2020. The purpose of withdrawal of the cash, according to the state, was to renovate the Air Force Quarters in Katsina. However, according to the petitioner no such thing was done.
And in another damming allegation, Shehu stated that the SSG withdrew in late April of this year, the sum of ten million, eight hundred and forty one thousand naira as the monthly allowance for ten mobile policemen who are normally on duty at Lambar Rimi.
The activist stated that between June 2015 and April 2020, a total sum of Eight Hundred and forty nine million, six hundred and fifty six thousand, six hundred naira was withdrawn from the Katsina State Escrow accounts in UBA PLC and Fidelity Bank for the purpose of paying the fictitious 10 Mobil police men.
“Award of N2.8bn contract in June 2015 for procurement of fertilizer without budgetary provision, tenders board or executive council approval is clearly over and above governor’s limit. Unauthorized and unlawful release and diversion of non-appropriated sum of N589m, which was withdrawn in cash by one Kabir Faskari (Kebram), under the guise of Ramadan feeding is another sleaze. There is also the unlawful and illegal withdrawal of N150m and diversion of same from local government accounts at N15m per local government in June 2015. Similarly, there is the unlawful cash withdrawal of over N3bn from Sure P accounts with Access Bank and other banks and the unlawful cash withdrawal, payments, and direct breach of public trust by Governor Aminu Bello Masari from the state board of Internal Revenue Service”, Shehu revealed.
Other financial misappropriations leveled against the governor and his cabinet members include renting of Army of Karama House for N750m per annum and renovation of same at N250m and the looting and outright stealing of N3.6bn cash in 2016 by Governor Masari, Inuwa and officials of the Ministry of Finance from the security escrow account.
Shehu, who decried the unimaginable rate at which people’s lives are being wasted with reckless abandon by bandits in Katsina State whilst the government continues to pillage the meagre resources of the state in the name of fighting insecurity, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to do thorough investigation of the security spending of the state.
Shehu called on the governor to resign to allow for a proper investigation. He also called on the elders of Katsina State to wake up and salvage unpleasant situations in Katsina State before it gets out of hand because the governor is not in charge, while the SSG has taken over as defactor governor.
Meanwhile, one of the religious groups fingered by Shehu as one the beneficiaries of this monumental corruption, Islamic sect Jama’atul Izalatul Bidi’a wa Iqamatussuna, JIBWIS, Katsina State Chapter, has distanced itself from the allegations that it benefited from the acts. The Dialogue Group boss alleged that over N400m was withdrawn from one of the Katsina State’s security accounts and given to Imams (including that of Izala sect) as clothes allowances. However, in their reply, JIBWIS in Katsina State under the leadership of Sheikh Yakubu Musa denied the allegations, saying that neither the sect nor himself knew anything about the money.
In his reaction, the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Muhammad Inuwa denied Shehu’s allegations, stating that just a little above Eight Hundred Thousand naira was paid to the security guards at Lambar Rimi Windmill Project since its commencement few years back, adding that the contractors have returned to site and work has commenced.
Mahdi also alleged that Katsina State government has budgeted between N1.8bn and N4bn of the rehabilitation of Ajiwa Dam in 2016 and 2019 budgets respectively, and without following due process.
However, the commissioner for Water Resources, Musa Adamu Funtua, has described Shehu’s claim as baseless and without any iota of truth, explaining that the total amount budgeted for the rehabilitation of the Dam is N1.9bn. He noted that since 40% of the amount was paid to the contractors in 2016.
Despite the raging controversy thrown up by Shehu’s revelation, Governor Masari has not commented on the issue and even so, President Muhammad Buhari, who is also from Katsina and a close ally of Masari has so far remained mum.
Desert Herald will continue to follow the development and get you informed as the story continues to unfold.