A N2.1 Billion fraud is rocking the Borno State Micro Finance Bank, with Governor Kashim Shettima and the bank’s MD, Zainab Kolo a crony of Shettima, in the middle of the mess.
The bank established by the Borno State Government with a N2.1Billion Loan from the Central Bank Of Nigeria, CBN, meant for disbursement to several benefeciaries, went belly up due to alleged diversion of the funds by the duo.
Pointblanknews.com gathered that Kolo is already being quizzed by the EFCC over the diversion.
According to sources, Kolo, on the instruction of the Governor put together a bogus list of beneficiaries who got between N50,000 and N500, 000, but in reality, the jobless youths got N10,000 each without collateral nor guarantors.
Shettima who frettered away N65 Billion left in the coffers of the state by his predecessor Alli Modu-Sherriff, became desperate.
Pointblanknews.com also gathered that Shettima and Kolo pulled a fast one on the state on this issue of N2 Billion from CBN. Shortly after the loan came from CBN, the governor allegedly stashed N1Billion in a third generation bank, and directed Kolo to disbursed N10,000 to few youths.
Later another N2 Billion came from Business mogul Aliko Dangote as part his empowerment drive in the state. Kashim and Kolo allegedly diverted the Dangote cash as well.
In a telephone chat with Pointblanknews.com, embattled Kolo said she did nothing wrong, and that as an employee of the state she barely followed orders.
According to her, “it is not the whole N2 billion that was blown up, as there is N1 billion still stashed away in fixed deposit accounts operated by the Governor, while the remaining N1 Billion was disbursed based on directives from the Governor to various banks, organizations and individuals.
While admitting that the loans were disbursed without any form of collateral nor guarantors, Kolo said ” all i did was follow instructions, what ever documents you have tells my story. I have given them to EFCC as well, i have nothing else to add. You can call any of the beneficiaries listed, and find out how much they got”
She denied that the Micro Finance Bank is being used Governor Shettima as a conduit pipe to siphon money, adding that the State House of Assembly has equally invited her for same purpose and that in keeping with her unflinching career, she was ready to put the records straight anytime it became necessary.
The embattled Bank MD accused some politicians and mischief makers in the state as trying to dent her image using trump up issues, for which she knows nothing about, saying “I only pay what has been approved, I am not a member of the Committee or part of the screening body meant for the loans
In an apparent move to stave off investigations by the Economic and financial Crimes commission EFCC in the N2.1Billion Central Bank loan obtained to float the micro finance bank by the Borno state Government, members of the State Assembly may have commenced probe into the scandal.
Checks reveal that, the Managing Director had been initially grilled by the EFCC and the Police force CID over the matter, following which the house of Assembly got interested and ordered its own investigations. She is billed to face the lawmakers this week to clarify her roles in the matter.
Investigations further reveal that, the Assembly approved Governor Kashim Shettima’s request to obtained the N2.1Billion loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria to facilitate the establishment of a micro Finance Bank in Maiduguri the state Capital , but systematically depleted the bank funds for political activities.Checks reveal also that, the public has been deliberately kept in the dark over the loan and how it was being managed through the micro finance bank, as its operations were shrouded in secrecy, rather it was made to serve as a conduit bank for drawing public funds for patronage of friends, associates, charlatans and political hooligans.
The House of Assembly which passed the law establishing the bank and subsequently approved the N2.1 Billion loan has been in the eyes of the storm immediately the attention of the EFCC was drawn to the scandal rocking the bank: a development which may have caused the reported panic in the House when they beheld the presence of EFCC operatives in the state.
Ostensibly trying to extricate themselves from blames, the lawmakers; findings reveal have been mounting pressures on the Managing Director of the Bank to explain the whereabouts of the banks funds, only for them to discover strange lodgments of N2.5 million each in their various accounts, according to sources.
A member of the Assembly confided in our correspondent that, they will not refund the money lodged into their accounts as they did not solicit for it, and besides, the State Government is still owes them a lot of payments, neither are they ready to call off the probe of the activities of the micro finance bank, and its attendant collapse.
The lodgments, apparently from the Banks management or from Governor’s aides, seem to have generated further curiosity amongst members who insisted that the Managing Director, Hajiya Zainab Kolo must face the Assembly to make explanations on certain unwholesome developments about the bank.
Some of them have threatened to commence impeachment moves against Governor Kashim Shettima if they fail to get satisfactory explanations on how the micro finance back was run aground due to mismanagement, and other unwholesome transactions in the state, for which they are being haunted for giving approvals to such transactions.
“We are ready to prove that we have not been pocketed. The EFCC is looking for the wrong people if they call us over this matter because, we ourselves, we are not happy with what is happening with that. We know it is a loan and we will not allow it to spoil our name”, one of them stressed.
A visit to the bank premises last week revealed that the managing Director has since fled to Abuja to brief Governor Kashim Shettima following the impending scandal occasioned by the inquiries from the House of Assembly, even as the office looks deserted as no activity seems to be going on any longer.
In its hey days, before it went comatose, the presence of hundreds of political acolytes, thugs and party hangers on, in the bank’s premises was common scene, and the officials of the bank were visible. Today , the compound along Damboa Road is not only deserted, but bereft of activities, our correspondent reports.
Inquiries from the few staff on what was going on and where the managing Director went to did not yield positive answers, but a follow up findings in Abuja revealed that, she is hibernating in Abuja, where she has run to, to meet the Governor, to take refuge.
This is even as attempts to speak with the Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Kauji, who heads the supervising Ministry were not successful, as his phone was not going through, but a senior official of the ministry of Finance pleaded with our correspondent to discard the story as the matter is an old issue being recycled. He promised to link up with our correspondent when he establishes contact with the commissioner, but never did until the time of going to press.