Crack detectives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday and Wednesday interrogated Kabir Tafida, the Sarkin Fada of Sokoto, who also acts as the chief of staff to Sultan Abubakar Sa’ad.
Mr. Tafida was questioned over a suspicious transfer of N700 million into his account from the Sokoto State government account, people familiar with the matter told PREMIUM TIMES.
He was released on administrative bail Wednesday evening following what a source described as “unceasing pressure on the EFCC by the Sultan and the Sokoto State government”.
Mr. Tafida was first invited to the EFCC office in Abuja on Tuesday where he was interrogated by a team of investigators.
He was then asked to return on Wednesday for more questioning.
One source said the money in question was taken from the Sokoto State’s share of the Paris club refund recently made to Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, but PREMIUM TIMES is unable to independently verify that claim.
But we were able to clearly determine that at least N700million was recently transferred from the Sokoto State government account to Mr. Tafida.
The kingmaker is not known to have offered any service to the goverment, investigators said, adding, “the suspect has also been receiving huge funds from the government of Sokoto on behalf of the Sultan.”
Mr. Tafida was reportedly allowed to go home on Tuesday on self recognizance following pressure from the Sultan and the Sokoto governor, another source said.
When contacted Wednesday evening, Imam Imam, the spokesperson to Governor Aminu Tambuwal, simply said he had just learnt of the development and that the Sokoto State government would issue a statement shortly.
No such statement has been sent to PREMIUM TIMES as at 7 a.m. Thursday.
However, a top official of the state government said the N700 million traced to the Sarkin Fada “is from the government of Sokoto State and is meant for the purchase of a House for the Sultan in Abuja”.
He said the monarch lacked official residence in the nation’s capital, adding, “the matter was discussed extensively at the meeting of the state executive council and due approval granted.
“In fact, the money is captured in the state’s 2017 budget and was officially released,” he said.
But investigators said the state has to explain why the funds was transferred to Mr. Tafida’s personal account rather than that of the Sultanate.
“Also why was the money not paid to an estate agent or a contractor buying or building a house for the Sultan,” one investigator said. “As far as we are concerned, there is something suspicious about this transaction.”
The spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached to comment for this story as his known mobile telephone lines failed to connect Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated to correct the amount involved in the transaction in question. It is N700million, and not N500million as earlier indicated.