Two former governors who last year decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are among a host of suspects to be tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A former governor of Zamfara State, Mahmud Shinkafi, and that of Kebbi State, Sa’idu Dakingari, will be docked by the anti-corruption agency for breaching the country’s anti money laundering law.
Already, charges have been prepared and filed at federal high courts in the respective states, against the two former governors and their alleged accomplices.
Critics of the federal agency often accuse it of allegedly going after opposition politicians only.
However Messrs Shinkafi and Dakingari decamped to the APC last year, without citing any reasons for their action, in a wave of defections across the country.
Critics described such defections as a means of escaping corruption charges.
In March, the two former governors attended a meeting of the ruling party’s caucus, presided by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa.
PREMIUM TIMES reported Mr Shinkafi’s decamping to the APC, in November 2017, where he was received by the deputy governor of the state, Ibrahim Wakkala.
The former governor, after picking his membership card, promised to work for the development of the party not only at the state level but the country as a whole.
“My coming to APC is home coming for me, because I left it before and now I am back home to my brothers and sisters. Together we are going to work for the party to become stronger and the party to beat in the state,” he said.
On the eve of 2017, Mr Dakingari led some high profile PDP members in his state of Kebbi into the APC.
The defectors were received by the state governor, Abubakar Bagudu, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that Mr Shinkafi will be docked before federal high court in Gusau, Zamfara state capital, on May 28, while the arraignment of Mr Dakingari is slated for June 20.
The Diezani ‘Poisoned Chalice’
Some top PDP politicians are being investigated following discovery by anti-graft officials of how Nigeria’s former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly funnelled $115 million to fund the party’s campaign.
The money, stashed with Fidelity Bank, was shared to PDP campaign coordinators and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to ensure success of the PDP in the 2015 polls.
Some INEC staff were also convicted for taking cuts in the N23 billion election bazaar.
On Tuesday, former Minister of Water Resources, Mukhtari Shagari, was arraigned along with four others for allegedly indulging in the funds.
Others charged along with Mr Shagari are Abdullahi Wali, Ibrahim Gidado, Nasiru Bafarawa and Ibrahim Milgoma.
They are accused of receiving N500 million from Mrs Alison-Madueke’s slush funds “without transacting through a financial institution and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act”.
An insider at the EFCC told PREMIUM TIMES that the commission’s leadership had decided to prepare charges against all those involved.
However, careful not to lose the cases on account of lack of adequate evidence to convict the suspects, the EFCC has decided to go after what the official called “low hanging fruits”.
Instead of charging the suspects with stealing public funds or conspiracy to commit act of corruption, the commission has decided to go after the “more obvious” money laundering offences.
The suspects are therefore mainly charged with breach of anti-money laundering regulations of wiring large amounts of cash through financial institutions.
Others slated for trial in this wave of prosecution, are former Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, and another former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali, both from Kano state.
While Mr Wali is said to have confessed to collecting money from the slush funds, Mr Shekarau is said to have denied involvement. An aide who was also initially identified as the one who collected Mr Shekarau’s share has reportedly recanted.
Already, Mr Shekarau has alleged witch-hunt. In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by his spokesperson, Sule Sule, he said the EFCC was trying to prosecute him despite having no evidence.
Mr Shekarau served as education minister under the Goodluck Jonathan presidency and has indicated interest to run for president in 2019 under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Since 2016, when the issue of election fund came up, Shekarau was invited by the EFCC to explain the amount given to him along with other stakeholders of the (PDP) party in Kano, but he denied ever receiving such amount and challenged EFCC to produce any one who has given him the money or any evidence to prove that he actually collected the money,” Mr Sule said in the statement.
In Jigawa, former junior minister of foreign affairs, Nurudeen Mohammed, and the governorship candidate of PDP in the state, Aminu Ringim, are also being prepared for arraignment.
As Jigawa state’s most senior representatives in the then government, Mr Mohammed reportedly collected the cash ‘contribution’ for the PDP campaign in the state, and handed the money over to Mr Ringim, who was the party’s candidate and close aide of then governor Sule Lamido.