The Sokoto State government has denied wrongdoing after federal anti-graft agents questioned a member of the Sokoto traditional council, the Sultanate, over a suspicious N700 million transferred to his account by the state government.
Kabiru Tafida, the Sarkin Fada of Sokoto, who also acts as the chief of staff to Sultan Abubakar Sa’ad, was grilled by detectives from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday and Wednesday over the transfer.
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 N700 million was recently transferred from the Sokoto State government account to Mr. Tafida.
The kingmaker is not known to have offered any service to the government, investigators said, adding, “the suspect has also been receiving huge funds from the government of Sokoto on behalf of the Sultan.”
The spokesperson to Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Imam Imam, said in a statement Thursday that the funds were approved for the purchase of a “befitting” office and guest house for the Sultanate council in Abuja.
Mr. Imam said all laid down procedures were followed in the process of the acquisitions. He said the amount was passed by the state House of Assembly.
“Furthermore, the Sokoto State Executive Council, the highest decision-making body in the state, via a resolution of the EXCO with number CC (2016) 5R of Wednesday, December 28, 2016, approved the purchase of the office and residential accommodation in Abuja,” he said.
Mr. Imam said following the approval, the office of the Secretary of State Government received three offers from different Estate Developers “which were vetted and assessed by the Ministry of Works and the State Due Process Office”.
“Following adherence to laid down procedure, the process of acquiring the property was set in motion upon which some elements are now trying to make political capital out of it,” he said.
Documents attached to Mr. Imam’s statement show that three firms, Fawad Nigeria Ltd, Efab Properties, Ltd and Korpic Limited were made available to the government Houses in highbrow Maitama area of Abuja.
The document shows that the House provided by Fawad Nig. Ltd. Located at No. 16, Ontario Crescent off Mississippi Street, Maitama, was selected following a certificate of no objection granted by the Due Process Office on December 23, 2016.
Approval was then given for the purchase of the House at N659 million.
The document also said the office of SSG as well as Justice and Finance Ministries were directed “to take action”.
However, the documents did not indicate whether the firm in question was owned by the Mr. Tafida which may have raised the suspicion by investigators as to why the money was transferred to his personal account and not that of Fawad Nig. Ltd.