How ex-gov Yari looted N22.5bn, triggered insecurity

Former Zamfara governor Abdulaziz Yari
Former Zamfara governor Abdulaziz Yari
The Coalition of Civil society organisations on Sunday, has linked the monumental fraud perpetrated by former governor of Zamfara state, Abdulaziz Yari; to the high level of insecurity in the state. The group also demanded for the immediate arrest of the ex-governor.

In a press conference by the organization, the Executive director of the Centre for Public Accountability, Comrade Olufemi Lawson gave an explicit revelation of the group’s findings about how the former governor illegally diverted funds to the tune of N22.5 bn, meant for projects and development of the state.

He said: “Our coalition, a conglomerate of 16 frontline Civil society organizations, is aghast by the monumental fraud allegedly perpetrated by the former governor of Zamfara state, between 2011-2019.”

“Going by the series of revelations from our interactions with citizens and stakeholders in the state, supported by series of documents in our possession which states how money meant for project and developments of Zamfara state was illegally diverted.”

“We want to call the attention of the Nigerian government and the international community; to the level of fraud that these individuals have used their offices to perpetrate at the detriment of the ordinary people and the development of the state”

“It was done so brazenly that the available evidence speaks for itself, just like our learned colleagues would say, ‘Res Iqua Loquitor’ the fact speaks for itself.”

“As we gather here today, we are all aware of the heightened threat of insecurity, occasioned by the activities of armed bandits particularly in the northwest of our country, the recent being Thursday’s abduction of about 317 school girls (the girls had been released during press time). We are sad that the issue of insecurity is becoming a threat to everyone and we must not fold our arms while some elected public officials elected to serve us continue to deprive us of the basic needs because of their irresponsibility.”

Why Zamfara?

“Our focus is on Zamfara state because of the level of banditry in the state. Our findings, which were corroborated by Zamfara citizens indicated that the issue of banditry arose because of lackluster performance of the successive administrations in the state and became worse during the regime of the former Governor Abdulaziz Yari that he had to relocate from the state, to Abuja, thereby abandoning Zamfara citizens to their fate.”

“You will also recall, that it was widely reported recently that Mr Yari was invited and grilled by the EFCC for several hours over alleged criminal diversion of the state funds while in office. Our findings based on another document have shown how another N22.5bn was diverted from the coffers of the state which is now in public domain.”

“It’s pertinent to note that the N22.5bn in question was part of the refund from federal government being money expended on federal roads in Zamfara state. If this humongous amount had been plowed back into the state, it is capable of boosting the economy and creating opportunities to the teeming masses of our people in Zamfara state who have been at the receiving end of bad governance over the years and now the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the already bad situation.”

“There’s a general feeling in Gusau that the probe of Yari and the recent discovery of humongous amount diverted at the twilight of his administration is responsible for the onslaught in the media against the current governor.”

“Incidentally, the new EFCC chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, was in charge in Lagos when Yari was allegedly grilled for hours. This is setting an agenda for the new EFCC helmsman to tackle the corruption bedeviling the country frontally.”

“We want the members of the fourth estate of the realms (the media) to beam their searchlight on this ugly trend in order for the anti-graft agency(s) to take action to serve as a deterrent. Though, the NUJ (National Union of journalists) has responded to Sheik Gumi’s snide remarks about the role of journalists in the whole crisis, this is a wake up call for the members of the fourth estate of the realm to do more for posterity.”

“It’s saddening that corruption is becoming endemic in our country and has retarded our progress for long.”

“We have discovered that if we are to make progress, there’s a need to re-evaluate our leadership recruitment process with the view to set an irreducible minimum standard.”

“Going by Sheik Gumi’s recent assertion, the bandits are asking for blanket amnesty. What has the state denied them? You may want to ask that we should now grant them blanket amnesty for terrorism in the country. This only points to one direction- Failure of leadership.”

“The reason why kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry have continued to fester is because of this wanton looting of the state by some of the governors who cared less about the security and the welfare of our people as enshrined in the constitution.”

“We therefore want the EFCC, ICPC and other relevant agencies to conclude its probe of the former Governor Yari as soon as possible so that he will have his days in court. This is the only way to restore our dignity that ‘hard work pays’ as opposed to the level of corruption which we are witnessing now. It will also serve as a deterrent to those who may want to toe such ignoble paths now or in the nearest future.”