BREAKING: We ‘ll Revisit Alleged N70bn Fraud Case Against Tinubu’s Minister — EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has vowed to revisit the case of alleged N70billion fraud against the Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, while he was the governor of Zamfara State from 2019 to 2023.

The EFCC’s acting Director of Public Affairs, Wilson Uwajuren, stated this while addressing protesters under the ageis of Zamfara Alternative Forum (ZAF), who stormed the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Friday, demanding the continuation of the investigation of the fraud allegations against Matawalle.

Uwajuren said the EFCC chairman had since assumption of office reviewed all high-profile cases he inherited and assured that the one involving the former Zamfara State governor would not be an exception.

He said: “I want to thank the Zamfara people for doing this peacefully, we like that kind of peaceful initiative by young Nigerians, I want to assure you that as far as the commission is concerned, nobody is above the law.

“What the EFCC Chairman has done since he assumed office is that he has reviewed all high-profile cases he inherited. And he asked me to assure you that this case would not be an exception like others, that it will be reviewed, and he is assuring you that something will be done under the law and no one is above the law and no case shall be swept under the carpet.

“Be rest assured that this case will be revisited because EFCC believes that no case should be swept under the law. If you have done something wrong and our investigation is able to establish that you have a case, we will proceed with the matter.”

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While presenting the protest letter to the EFCC official, the spokesperson of ZAF, Mahmud Abubakar, called on the anti-graft agency to continue investigating the alleged mismanagement of public funds by Matawalle during his tenure as the governor of Zamfara State.

Abubakar said this will serve as a deterrence to others contemplating engaging in corrupt practices in public office given to what happened to the suspended Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Dr Betta Edu.

He insisted that mismanagement of public funds has far-reaching effects on the people and Zamfara State, leading the pack of under-development index in the country, loss of revenue, and a decrease in the quality of life for the people.

He commended President Bola Tinubu for taking bold decisions against corruption.

“The Zamfara Alternative Forum is calling on the EFCC to investigate the State Minister for Defence, Bello Mohammed Matawalle, for alleged misappropriation of public funds.
During his tenure (as governor) there were allegations of mismanagement of public funds and resources.

“Recall that on the 18th May 2023, EFCC through its then Director, Media and Public Affairs, Osita Nwajah Nwajah, said the EFCC is investigating Matawalle over allegations of monumental corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70 billion.

“According to the EFCC, the money, which was sourced as a loan from an old-generation bank, purportedly for the execution of projects across the local government areas of the state, was allegedly diverted by the governor through proxies and contractors who received payment for contracts that were not executed.

“The Commission’s investigations revealed that over 100 companies had received payments from the funds, with no evidence of service rendered to the state. Some of the contractors who had been invited and quizzed by the Commission made startling revelations on how the governor allegedly compelled them to return the funds received from the state coffers back to him through his aides after converting the same to United States Dollars (hard currency).

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“The companies confirmed that they did not render any service to Zamfara State but were allegedly directed to convert the monies paid to them into United States Dollars (hard currency) and return them to the state governor through some of his commissioners, notably the commissioners in charge of Finance and Local Government Affairs.

“…We urge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to revisit the corruption case of Bello Matawalle, who is accused of embezzling 70 billion Naira,” the protest letter read.

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