Despite Boko Haram, Borno officials still defraud state of millions

kashim_Shettima
Borno Governor, Kashim Shettima

The Borno State Government would not comment until a court a decision.

Ola’ Audu

Despite the Boko Haram insurgency that has led to the death of hundreds of people in Borno State and made the state capital virtually barren of formerly existing businesses, officials of the state government still engage in deals that allegedly defraud the state government of millions of naira.

An auction of nearly 1000 ‘unserviceable’ vehicles by a committee set up by the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, typifies the kind of fraud going on in the state.

Apart from allegation that about 159 of the vehicles were donated to Governor Shettima’s political cronies, at least one of those appointed by the governor to carry out the sales also cheated the government of millions of naira.

An angry bidder, Ali Shuwa, who has helped the Borno State Government sell depreciated vehicles in the past, recently sued a member of the Borno auction committee, Usman Mari, accusing the latter of defrauding him of N5 million.

The purchase

The bidder offered to buy ten ‘unserviceable’ fire fighting trucks belonging to the Borno State Government through the auction committee. The committee demanded he pays N750, 000 for each.

Mr. Shuwa was to pay a total of N7.5 million to the committee for the fire fighting vehicles. But instead of allowing him to make payment of the entire amount into a Borno Government account, he was allegedly asked by Mr. Mari, an engineer and the committee’s scribe, to pay only N250, 000 for each of the trucks into government account.

The remaining balance of N500, 000 on each of the ten trucks, totalling N5 million, should be paid into Mr. Mari’s private account.

The deal was sealed, the ten ‘unserviceable’ trucks were undervalued and Borno was defrauded of N5 million – which many people say is small, compared to the sharp practices that characterised the vehicle auctions in the state.

The bidder did as he was told.

Mr. Shuwa told PREMIUM TIMES on phone that he has documents proving that Mr. Mari collected the sum of N3 million cash from him and then a bank teller that also proves that a balance of N2 million was paid into Mr. Mari’s Unity Bank account all in November 2011.

I am not alone

Trouble started when Mr. Mari, who allegedly claimed to have collected the N5 million on behalf of the other members of the auction committee, could not deliver all the 10 trucks to Mr. Shuwa.

Only six trucks were delivered.

Since November 2011 that the deal was struck, the remaining four trucks are yet to be delivered to Mr. Shuwa.

The bidder after waiting for over a year could not wait any longer. It was clear he would not get the remaining four trucks.

Hence, he demanded a refund of the illegally collected N5 million since he could not get back the N2.5 million he paid into the government’s account.

However, Mr. Mari and other alleged beneficiaries could not return the money.

The buyer went to court.

“I have waited for getting to two years now, and nobody is giving me my money back, neither have I been given the four trucks I paid for. We are in court now, and even Mari could not deny my claims. At a point they wanted me to withdraw the case so that we can settle outside court, but I refused because I know they won’t pay me my money in full,” said Mr. Shuwa.

A history of fraud

Mr. Shuwa stated that he could no longer trust Mr. Mari, an engineer with the Borno State Ministry of Works.

He hinged his distrust for the engineer on an experience he had during the process of auctioning the vehicles. He said he was handed a list of 159 vehicles, trucks and earth moving equipment, labelled “Unserviceable’. The vehicles were to be allegedly given as gifts to top political office holders, senior government officials, and traditional chiefs in the state.

“We were asked to issue our receipts as auctioneer (bidders) for each of the heavily undervalued 159 vehicles, even without being auctioned to cover; up government’s hypocrisy.

“And by law for every receipt we issued at the end of an auction sales, we get a five per cent of the cost as our commission. But in this case, the cars were not sold but dashed out as gifts; hence Mari and his team refused to give us our commission as they earlier agreed. So that explains why I can’t trust them or Mari for an out of court settlement,” Mr. Shuwa said.

The buyer said unless his N5 million was returned, he would continue to expose the shady deals that characterised the auction process.

“We are in court with those that are trying to defraud me of my money, and as long as the trial lasts more revelations will surely be made on the criminality of government during the public auction of vehicles,” Mr. Shuwa vowed.

Mari, officials decline comment

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr. Mari, he declined to respond to all our enquiry saying the matter was in court and it would amount to subjudice for him to comment.

At the state Ministry of Works where the engineer works, officials spoke in hush tones about the scandal. No one would talk on record.

The ones that spoke said the auction committee was not set up by the ministry but by the state government who appointed the engineer.

The Borno State Commissioner for Information, Inuwa Bwala, also declined to comment on the fraud allegations.

Mr. Bwala said since the matter was before the courts, he would not want to pre-empt the court with any statement.

He however said he did not receive any of the vehicles and is not aware any of them was given to a government official.

“As an official, I did not receive any car. It I not true that the cars were given to government functionaries,” he said in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

At the Maiduguri High Court, the presiding judge, Haruna Shelia, said he is bent on disposing off the case with suit no. BOHC/MBA/CV/002/2013 between Mr. Shuwa (complainant) and Mr. Mari (defendant).

He gave both sides the 2nd and 9th of April to address and close their cases respectively after which he would pass his judgment on May 20.


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  • You mean the fear of boko haram is the beginning of wisdom in the Fualkni North or what? Are u people not aware that the Maharajahs don’t go to prison in Nigeria? Its those governors from the south south that are sent to jail not the ones under the protection of BH-buhari and tinubu

  • You mean the fear of boko haram is the beginning of wisdom in the Fulani North or what? Are u people not aware that the Maharajahs don’t go to prison in Nigeria? Its those governors from the south south that are sent to jail not the ones under the protection of BH-buhari and tinubu

    • otitokoro

      Deri Orbuka, Just wondering if Ibori was jailed in Nigeria. The last I heard about all these, I read that Nigerian courts under former President Yar adua A NORTHERNER (I GUESS YOU WILL NOT LIKE ME TO THROW THAT IN YOUR FACE BECAUSE IT SHREDS THE ETHNIC TANTRUMS YOU ARE THROWING AROUND FALSELY), cold not jail Ibori a south-southerner!!! This is it Deri, President Yar adua A NORTHERNER, could not jail Ibori A SOUTH-SOUTHERNER. So what does this mean? You and Prof Sagay you dubiuosly and immorally relied on on another post CONVENIENTLY FORGOT THAT A NORTHERNER COULD NOT JAIL A SOUTH-SOUTHERNER BECAUSE BOTH ARE IN BED LOOTING OUR TREASURY. So when Nigeria courts could not jail Ibori, what happened in Britain? The British court jailed him. Question is: Was Ibori jailed by buhari and Tinubu? I know you know, and I am just humoring you and your Professor. Now this is the second one-Mr Babalakin a Yoruba is in cahoot laundering money with Ibori-a south-southerner.!!! Can you see how your ethnic argument has collapsed? What is not good is NOT good. If President Jonathan IMMORALLY pardoned a Alamieyeseigha and we all SEE that it is not good, please say so. But you cannot say so because unfortunately President Jonathan NO LONGER sees himself as President of Nigerian citizens, he sees himself as President of a section of the country. And that is FINE. We will wait baby deri alias mpitkwelu_na_ afam.

  • Amos

    Did
    you say in spite of Boko Haram? Are you unaware of the fact that these people are cold blooded killers, armed robbers and criminals? Just because they have cloaked their activities under the veil of religion, should not deceive anyone about their rue nature. For all we know, they could be up to their necks in this fraud, afterall they are the alternativenew establishment there.

  • akpos1

    …lets be frank, at the end of the day, it is my oil & gas money- the money of the United Republic of the SS&SE. This waste of our resources is the same from Lagos to Sokoto to Katsina & to Bornu.

    …This is the reason the SS&SE must secede. There is no going back. The stupidity of Lord Luggard & The British Monarch in their grand error of 1914 shoud not be allowed to haunt us 4ever. Time for SS&SE spring is NOW.

    Have a bad day!

    • Abubakar Sokoto

      We know now mpitikwelu_na_Awusa_na_afam_Sagay_AyoYussuff_deri_akpos,
      Na “una oil”. Now let us begin to become more brutal and throw it in your face. You MUST sececede. YOU KNOW CRUDE OIL IS CRUDE, IT IS NOT REFINED. YOU DO NOT DRILL OUT CRUDE OIL WITHOUT A CAPITAL INVESTMENT. So since you also went to school, I am telling you that Nigeria lived on some form of resources before the crudity of oil came in. And it is the MONEY form those resources that went into oil. SO BEFORE you secede please pay back the CAPITAL(GOT FROM COCOA, GROUND NUT, RUBBER, HEP FROM KAIJI DAM ETC THAT WAS USED TO INVEST IN THE CRUDITY OF OIL BEFORE IT STARTED GUSHING OUT FOR YOU TO DRINK. Since you will not rest and reflect, I need to THROW that in your face. So come along PAY BACK before you swim in YOUR CRUDE OIL.

      • Amos

        Pay back? You are completely an utterly unbelievable! In this equation, you conveniently forgot to mention palm oil and palm kernel, which was a huge earner for the first republic. Heck, we were the largest producers in the world. And where did you think that the rubber came from? From the Sahara desert? What money do you think Nigeria used to build and extend the Dam? These aside, the Northern Generals share the ownership of the oil blocks amongst themselves. If they do not own so much now, it is because they sold it to the highest bidders. Where are the Northern billionaire soldiers? They have a lot to answer for.

    • Datti

      akpos 1 is an Igbo man, the original kidnappers’ ethnic group. He’s trying to lump the SE with the SS; it wont work bros. The SS knows your atrocities and that was why the so called biafra imploded. And if SE makes the same mistake, the original Awo’s medicine is still available.